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Sagra Service

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Okay, I have to share my experience with the new neighborhood place. Went in early last night sans reservation -- the first night out for dinner after birthing twins 8 weeks ago, compliments of grammy taking the babies for their first overnight. At around 6pm the dining room was empty and only a few parties at the bar. We said we were flexible about having a table or sitting at the bar. No mention of reservations. The hostess (?) said we could do either, and suggested a table in the bar as a happy medium. Cool. Food was nice, especially the duck ragu gnocchi. However I waited through the 2nd half of my entree to be offered a second glass of wine. It arrived just prior to my entree being cleared. Our server asked about dessert and I told her I would think about it while enjoying the wine. Moments later the check was dropped. I was surprised -- we were thinking about dessert and had almost full drinks. Maybe 30 seconds later, the server tried to pick up the check, apologizing but telling us that the table was needed. It was 7:30. Then while she was getting change, the hostess came over to tell us that another party had been waiting for the table for 30 minutes, and suggested we take our drinks to the bar if we wanted to finish them. Am I wrong for feeling outraged over this? I was a fine dining server in a former life, and I'd never ask a party to vacate their table -- plus why put us at a table that would be needed in an hour?

I'd like this place to succeed, yet the next time I have a night off mommy duty...I'll go to Gargoyles where I always experience exceptional service.

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  1. You have every right to be outraged. Once again, Sagra ruined what could have been a good dining experience with front of the house ineptitude.

    We were also there last night (our second visit). When we first walked in, the hostess was on the phone taking a reservation and another person (a server, I think) rather snippily inquired as to whether we had a reservation. (We didn't). At that point, the hostess stepped in and asked if we would mind being seated at the "dinner bar," on the left side of the upper level. Fine with us. The person behind said bar is really just a server for that section--no bartending required, although she did open and pour wine (and at one point, poured the dregs of one bottle into another partially full bottle). We ordered the fried olives for an appetizer (very yummy) and shared a pizza (salami, not my first choice, but the crust was excellent). Because our server had only to deal with a limited number of diners, all in a contained area, service was attentive enough, but sadly lacking in professionalism. The server kept talking to her friend who was sitting at the bar, sometimes missing cues from kitchen staff who were bringing plates out. I suppose she thought she was being friendly, but she kept trying to bring us into their conversation, which we had no desire to do. Turning our attention to the far end of the bar nearest the kitchen, it was rather comical to watch other wait staff coming by to look at the plates that were waiting to be picked up--they seemed not to have a clue as to what the food was actually supposed to look like, and from our vantage point, the entire operation had a real Keystone Kops quality. I'd like to give the place another chance - I think Sagra's food is good and prices are reasonable - but the service needs serious improvement before I'd recommend this place to others.

    1. There are a number of other threads that relate similar experiences-- nice food, odd and poor service. Has anybody been in the last two weeks and seen smooth-outs in the service kinks? I think patience will run out very soon if the service doesn't match the food soon...

      1 Reply
      1. re: newhound

        Yes!! The first time was well meaning but so bad, and that was on a slow, stormy Valentines evening.

        Went again last minute this Saturday around 7pm w/ no reservation. Said we'd sit at any bar area, a minute later we were seated at a 2-top in the main dining area. Our waitress was really good and knew what she was talking about!! I had a question about the wine and she was helpful and knowledgeable, same goes for her recommendation with the meal. We split a pasta to start (yum) and then had pizza. Everything went really well except that I could see that some other servers were a little keystone cop-ish. Hiring this experienced gal that we had is a good sign!

      2. This is really awful. Sounds like Sagra just has not gotten its act together with respect to service. In my opinion they need to fire the entire front of house staff and start over there- keeping the kitchen staff of course!

        1. they don't have a front of house manager, just a very talented chef. this will bite them badly if they want to be a successful neighborhood restaurant.

          1. Just saw their ads on craigslist and they are looking, it seems, to replace their entire front of the house.

            1 Reply
            1. re: zenright

              That is great news. Hopefully they'll get it right this time.

            2. I was there last night and echo the service complaints. Least attentive waitstaff I've experienced in a long time. They were friendly enough, just totally incompetent. One disheveled busboy came over and asked if we wanted anything cleared. We were done with all of our apps and some drinks. He picked up one plate and left---picking his wedgie on his way back to the kitchen. We gave each other the WTF look. They could turn over tables much more quickly if they gave half a shit.

              Food was, on the whole, decent but not extraordinary. I won't be rushing back, although I may stop in for a glass of wine and an app now and again. Others liked the chicken parm, fried app offerings, and the mezzaluna potatoes. Lasagna was a bit of a bust, as was the pork two ways (riblets and sausage---dry and flavorless), and shortrib didn't fare too much better. I think it's still a reasonable food value given the prices, though.

              What's with the second bar in the back of the dining room? Seems like totally wasted dining space to me.

              I'm with the OP, I'd rather just spend a bit more and go to Gargoyles.

              1. i have to confess, i am a fan of the food at sagra. i've been weekly since opening and i will return. i have had my own experiences with the shoddy service, check my posting history. that aspect does not please me, but the food consistently has pleased me and that makes up for it. at least for now it does. actually, i have noticed improvements in the service in the past 3 weeks alone, but they need more. i hope they keep improving. i enjoy the place, would love for sagra to be very succesful, and i feel that it has the potential to be much MORE than a neighborhood place, and being vested in another business in the area, i want that space attracting more people and money to the square. unfortunately that is not going to happen until sagra gets that house in order, as i said in an earlier posting.

                to doubleman i say, i've had both the pork 2 ways, and the riblet/risotto dish. i found them both to be nothing short of amazing! i would ask you and other posters to resist the urge to let the service sour your enjoyment of the food. but, much easier said than done, huh.

                to the owners i say, there you have it. your food is terrific, your service is still weak, inspite of your improvements. but build on those improvements, and your terrific kitchen.
                hopefully that is the silver lining to these complaints. you have to act, and you have every reason, more good than bad, to do so, to provide service worthy of that food.
                so then do it already.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mmmangia

                  I went last night around 8:30 and the service was OK. Yes, the waitress didn't really know the menu. And it took a while to determine that they were out of the wine we ordered. The owners do understand and they have hired someone to manage the front of the house.

                  But to be quite honest, I can tolerate mediocre service if the food is worth it. For appetizers we had the bresola (again) and the fried olives. The bresola is tender and delicate like a carpaccio and has a delicately cured flavor. The olives were out of this world. Fried to perfection and the meat stuffing was wonderfully flavorful. I had the lasagna, which was outstanding. True home-made, paper-thin lasagna that melts in your mouth and the sauce was rich and at the same time, light and fresh (no gobs of tomato paste). My DC had the pork two ways, and it was delicious (I had a taste of the sausage).

                  This is real home-style central Italian cooking with fresh ingredients. And very reasonable prices (including the wine list, which has a nice selection of wines in the $20s).