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Local 188 -Reservations

j
joss2 Dec 19, 2007 06:58 AM

Maybe I'm just pre-holiday stressing, but does anyone think it ok to be seated 40 minutes after a reservation time- only to have the waitperson take another 20 minutes to make a first appearance at the table? This happened to us last Saturday at 188. I glad we didn't have plans after!
Seems like a place that never took reservations, has a thing or two to learn about honoring them. I, for one, l have my reservations about making one there.

  1. the_MU Dec 19, 2007 08:14 AM

    I think that's very crummy. They shouldn't be booking reservations they can't honor. I hope they compensated you in some way for the inconvenience.

    While I'm happy that the business was successful enough to expand this much, I miss the old 188, which was way less pretentious, and if there was a delay, it was obvious why, because you could see the guys whirling around in the kitchen. The new space is slick and fancy, but also pretty impersonal, with none of the handmade feel of the previous one. Also, they've stopped serving unlimited decent bread -- you now get a small portion of spongy, limp, housemade focaccia, albeit with a nice spread to go with it. I no longer get the sense that anyone gives a darn, which is a shame.

    1. the_MU Dec 19, 2007 11:56 AM

      Jay, I've stuck up for you on more than one occasion. I think your kitchen rocks, and I think it admirable not to rush patrons, but favoring one patron over another who could have made their slightly later reservation _weeks_ earlier is plain lousy service, and is a major pet peeve of mine. If people are consistently waiting over 30 min past their reservation times, then the restaurant should be keeping track of when this happens and taking fewer reservations during those times -- to force long waits like this is extremely disrespectful of people's time. If you can't seat people, don't tell them that you can.

      Honestly, I loved your old place, and I'm kinda blah about the new one. The food is still good, but I must not be in the right demographic anymore. I understand that prices have to increase along with overhead, and the new space is lovely and much larger, but I miss the handmade menus inside bookcovers and sitting up next to the (sometimes challenging) art and the wine in jelly jars. It's just a different thing now. I'm far more drawn to passion than to polish.

      1. j
        joss2 Dec 19, 2007 12:16 PM

        mmmmmmmm.......there's a dozen places in town that I like eating at, that I know will have a table ready at my reservation time. There's a couple that don't take reservations but will tell me pretty accurately how long the wait is, and there's one that might hand me a menu an hour after my reservation time...... now where do I eat tonight?

        1. h
          HappyChow Dec 20, 2007 05:26 AM

          I wish I had read this before my birthday dinner last night. My hubby and I went there for a 7 p.m. reservation. We were told to sit in the bar area until the previous patrons were done with our table, and that they had already paid their bill so should be gone in 10 minutes.

          45 minutes later, we were led to our table with no apologies. We had already read the menu and so were ready to order immediately. We had to ASK our server to tell us the specials...and indeed she didn't tell us all the specials until we specifically asked. We ordered 3 tapas dishes and 2 main courses, and made sure the tapas would be ready soon.

          10 minutes later, we noticed that the other couples around us had bread on their tables. We couldn't spot our server so asked another server if we could have some bread. After ANOTHER 10 minutes, our server brought us some bread. It was now 8 p.m. and all we had was bread. At 8:20, a different server brought us our two main courses (seafood risotto
          and grilled scallops). We asked what had happened to our tapas order, and the server
          shrugged. We asked to cancel the tapas, as it would now be ridiculous to eat appetizers
          AFTER the main course. As soon as that happened, the tapas (only 2 of the three) appeared.
          We now had 4 dishes on the table (mussels in red sauce and garlic shrimp too).

          The server, to her credit, told us to enjoy the tapas and that she would take it off the bill. She
          told us that the kitchen was actually out of the meatballs, our 3rd tapas that hadn't shown up.
          And then, 10 minutes later, she showed up with the meatballs!!! What a comedy of errors
          this whole evening was.

          I'm not even sure about what to say about the food itself, because all the dishes we got
          were hot dishes that needed to be enjoyed at a hot temp, but because they were all on
          the table at the same time, inevitably they had cooled down too much by the time we
          actually ate them. This was especially true for the garlic shrimp--already too cold by
          the time they reached our table, and ice cold by the time it reached my mouth.

          The mussels were the first dish I tried, and they were delicious--piping hot, bathed in
          a delicious tomato and garlic sauce (not broth) with some lemongrass, and just cooked
          until tender.

          THe meatballs were delicious as well, though the sauce seemed similar to the sauce
          for the mussels, a little more sweet and sour.

          The space itself was gorgeous, and I would definitely go back and sit at the bar for
          a quick drink and tapas. I imagine the food is truly delicious and unique in Portland
          if it were actually served hot. I will never go back for a dinner at a table...At least the
          server had enough class to comp us the tapas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: HappyChow
            n
            negrazer Dec 20, 2007 05:53 AM

            I have heard two very different types of reviews for 188, not from this message board, but from friends in Portland.

            I've had two different sets of friends go there with expectations of having dinner and standard attentive service expected with a sit down meal. In both cases my friends reported the same problems with service as have been described here. Not being seated in an appropriate time, unattentive service, plates coming out at the wrong time etc. Both were extremely dissappointed

            The other two reviews I've gotten were from area chefs who just went to hang out and relax and have a bite to eat. They had no time frame set in mind and basically ordered their tapas and mains as they went. These reviews were extremely positive, but I attribute that to the expectation. All they cared was that their drink glasses weren't empty and the food was good and hot when it got to the table.

            I've been to 188 for drinks on a couple of occasions and absolutely love the space. I've drooled over the menu and do want to eat there. The chef is certainly inventive and the prices of the dishes appear to be some of the best value in Portland.

            This all said, if I do go to eat there, I know what to expect. I'll plan on going there to hang out and relax and eat, not to have 'dinner'. If I want to sit down and have 'dinner' with attentive service, great food in a similar casual, fun atmosphere, I'll go to David's.

            Apparently the concept at 188 works for them as most evenings I drive by, the place is packed. I do think they'd probably be more succesful in the cash register if they focused a bit more on turning tables in the dining area of the restaurant instead of just having it be one large lounge.

            that's my 72 cents

          2. j
            joss2 Jan 15, 2008 04:07 PM

            It's been a month since I posted my comment about reservation and service problems at 188, has the restaurant made any progress? I like the food and would hope to return at some point.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joss2
              m
              maina Jan 23, 2008 01:11 PM

              We recently had a great dinner there, and had no problem with service, which was prompt and courteous, but we did go very early (just before 6pm). I had the paella, and my husband had a fish special -- both were terrific. Desert was homemade ice cream - banana rum - which was a treat. The only complaint I have is that the salad was unimaginative and overpriced for the quality. They had a few empty tables when we arrived, but by the time we left there was a line. Based on our experience, we'll definitely be back. But reading these posts, we'll try to go before the dinner rush starts.

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