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Oct 21, 2007 01:00 PM

Foibles at Daniel [Moved from Manhattan board]

Friday night my fiance took me to Daniel for a birthday dinner. We took the tasting menu with wine pairing. The basics on the food: blown away by the short ribs, two excellent seafood courses (tuna and halibut), and surprisingly mediocre desserts.

All told, we had a fabulous night and laughed at the following. The originally very warm and friendly waitstaff screwed up a couple of issues. First, my fiance indicated that it was my birthday when making the reservation -- the hostess asked for the spelling of my name presumably to make some sort of birthday dessert. However, my candle never showed. (You're probably thinking - who is this girl? poor thing didnt get her stupid candle. But we werent upset by it at all. Just realized after we left that they totally forgot to bring it and had done so with several other tables throughout the night).

Foible 2 - the waiter overcharged us $140. Apparently several drink orders were added to our bill that did not belong there. This is the best part though -- when we pointed it out politely, the waiter replied "Okay," did not even flinch, took the bill, brought it back and NEVER ONCE said sorry or explained. Not a word. In fact, after he dropped off the corrected bill, we never saw him again. We werent all that bothered by the intitial mistake (thanks to the wine pairing) but its kind of fishy that the waiter wasnt even't remotely surprised or confused that we could have paid for a whole nother couples' dinner (at another restaurant, of course) for what they "mistakenly" overcharged us.

So I raise these points to share and ask - would you send a letter? I know it might sound ridiculous, and the tone would certainly not be one of outrage BUT we did pay a little under half a grand for a special night. I kind of just want to experiment and see what sort of response I get.

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  1. You betcher bippy I'd send a letter. That's probably better than a phone call because it's in writing.
    I am sorry for your negative happening.
    I am determined to hit all the big places in the big A sooner or later and so far, I am finding that the hype is greater than the actual experience in many cases.

    1 Reply
    1. re: idia

      Yeah, I'd write, because your tone is just right. The waiter absolutely should have apologized (actually the maitre should have come over), and in a classy place like that they should have given you an extra take home or comped something.

      I was pleasantly surprised then they comped my wine at Perry St after a disasterous service day. Ditto at Telepan when they comped all the mineral water for my large party after I had to get up from the table, flag down the maitre, and say, we asked for regular water, and they keep bringing the mineral, what is UP with that! Maybe ONE person asked for sparkling and they did the entire flat or sparking number to my table, which I detest.

      Anyway, I digress. Write, and REPORT BACK TO US please~!

    2. I'd definitely send a letter. I don't know how much I'd worry about the missing birthday thing (like you, I'd have laughed it off and moved on) but the overcharge with no explanation, no apology...that's fairly fishy and is the sort of thing that would make me wonder about going back to a restaurant. I know mistakes happen and I'm completely willing to forgive them...but it's hard not to have something in the back of your mind that says "was he just trying to pull something here?" The answer is almost surely "no, he wasn't" but just a sentence of explanation from the waiter would have solved it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ccbweb

        Thanks everyone for the supportive posts! I'm going to write and will definitely reports back. (I didnt realize I posted this in "Not about Food" -- I should have posted it on the Manhattan board for better nyc distribution.

      2. We also had an odd experience there a couple of years ago with the tasting menu and wine paring

        We were sitting next to a couple who also ordered the exact something. About a minute later we place our order and so the evening went. Their wine would be poured then ours. Their dish would come out and like clockwork a minute later ours would appear. After the second to last dish wine was poured at both tables. Then their meat dish would came out. Ours did not. They finished and dishes were cleared away. We were still waiting. Staff was notably absent during this time frame. Their desert and wine arrived they were just about finished with that when a waiter came up and said there was a mix up in the kitchen and our missing dish would be out shortly. Our dish arrived when the other couple was enjoying their coffee. We never got so much as an apology for the thirty minute or so delay or even a refill of the wine which was supposed to have been for the missing course. We joked that were were going to get an extra desert of of it we didn't.

        I know things happened. But at a place like Daniel that one of the reason you pay the high prices is because they are they are working that much harder. I didn't say anything at the time because for the most part we were having a good evening and didn't want to bring down the mood.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Withnail42

          The more I consider it the more it irritates me because I can't remember the last time any of that sort of thing happened (the forgetting things, overcharging, or the lack of an apology) at a "regular" restaurant. The attitude is -- We're DANIEL we dont have to apologize -- but would it have been so hard? ccbweb is right that even the smallest mention of an explanation or "sorry" would have ended it.

          1. re: bobjunior

            Is this the same Daniel as in Bouley's Daniel? A bigger laughable pretense as I've ever seen. A 'pre-appetizer'. Right.

            Did you lower the tip to a point where Mr. imperious server would notice?

            Did you talk to the manager? If yes, did the manager care?

            >>but would it have been so hard?<<

            Of course not. But as someone somewhere here observed, we're all (well some of us) too easy to please.

            1. re: dolores

              We didnt take any action (lower tip, talk to manager) because it was about 1am and we were in a great mood. I think neither of us wanted to take up anything at that point. Nor did we got all that bothered by it until we left and realized how unmoved garcon was. I have to say, I hate to admit it but all the watiers (including ours) were extremely friendly up until the shake down. ; )

              1. re: bobjunior

                I think your first reaction, not taking action because you were in a good mood, was your best reaction. When it comes to service issues I take the attitude that, "you can be happy or you can be right and I choose to be happy". After the after-glow of the evening you have been thinking and stewing over the issue and it's soured the memory.

                1. re: bobjunior

                  I'm glad you posted it here. There are plenty of people out there who have been to Daniel but don't frequent the Manhattan board. So please, post the results of your letter writing here!

                  I think you were correct in not letting it affect the pleasure of your evening, but a letter never hurts. Management can't correct stuff they don't know about. Years ago I wrote a "complaint" letter to an airline, but in the format of a management letter (I'm an auditor). They sent me a nice flight voucher in response!

                  Three years ago I had late night dessert only at Daniel. A waiter brought a HUGE arrangement of roses to our table as a gift. Moments later, while we were still admiring them, someone came to take them the correct table. Daniel came out to the table to apologize, and our entire bill was comped. I never knew if they did it because of the faux pas, or because some apparent big shot we had been standing in line with earlier in the evening made the reservation for us, or just because we were there so late, maybe they were closing out the books prior to our departure. It was a shock, though.

                2. re: dolores

                  I'm sorry I don't understand: "A bigger laughable pretense as I've ever seen. A 'pre-appetizer'. "

                  What is funny about an amuse-bouche? It's not unique to Daniel.

                  1. re: chow_gal

                    This was the 1980s. I don't think 'amuse (as in amuse?) - bouches' were the vogue yet.

                    It was a microscopic something or other, and they actually had the gall to charge for it.

                    I found it funny then, and find it funnier still today. But hey, salsiccia his own.

                  2. re: dolores

                    It's probably a silly point, but... "Is this the same Daniel as in Bouley's Daniel?"

                    No - it's Daniel as in Daniel Boulud. Bouley's first name is David.

                    1. re: Deenso

                      Ah, thanks, Deenso. Then I apologize to Daniel's.

                      However, I still find pre-appetizers hilarious.