I wanted to relay a experience I recently had at Brunoise in Montreal to see if anyone had any thoughts. I am not making any judgements, but I was a little perplexed that I was turned away.
Here's what happened: I was in town from New England and dining alone on a Saturday night. I arrived at the restaurant a few minutes after it opened for the evening - just after 5:30 p.m. There was only one couple in there at the time - sitting at a table. No one was at the bar.
I asked for a table for one. The host said they were booked for the entire night. I said that was not a problem - I could sit at the bar. The host said the bar was fully booked for the entire night too.
I politely asked him to check to see if there was anything he could do. He walked to the back and checked with someone, I assume, and said I could not be accommodated.
I was a little amazed because there were only two other customers in the restaurant at the time. Was everyone else simply late for their reservations? And every seat at the bar booked too? OK, I know it's a popular restaurant, but what was the deal do you think?
No, no private party. And believe me, it's not like I look like a lady of the night or anything. More like an English teacher.
Saying all the tables were booked probably just meant that each one was reserved for sometime between 5:30 and 7. I guess the same could be true of the bar, but I've never heard of reserving seats at the bar. That's a new one for me, too.
Back in the early '70s when we feminists were attacking the barriers, some of the toniest restaurants had a policy of refusing to serve unescorted women. Their stated (and probably real) reason was to keep out the hookers. A group of us targeted the best-known fancy place and staged an invasion of their cocktail lounge and dropped hints of lawsuits. After this event they quietly changed their policy.
Seems to me that your woman-alone status turned them off and they were giving you the bum's rush.
Us Montrealers really enjoy sitting at the bar. So sometimes we do reserve for seats specifically at the bar. That might explain why you could not get a seat there.