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Annoying phone call with BarFry employee

  • m

A month ago, I made a large reservation at BarFry for 9:00 this Saturday so that I could celebrate my birthday with 12-15 friends. The people with whom I initially spoke were very accomodating.

Now I just called to firm up the plan and the person was pretty rude. He told me that I'd better tell my friends that my party is called for 8:30pm because if we're not all there by 9pm, he's going to give my table away.

I mean, come on. There are nicer ways to ask a group to please be on time and I would never expect them to hold the table for us if we all strolled in at 9:45pm. But people are coming from all over Manhattan and this guy gave me the impression that they could not care less about my large group (and large bill) and would just do their best to fit us in somewhere among the masses, if and only if all 15 of us are there at 9:00 on the dot.

I know this place is popular and busy, but I made a reservation a month ago and my 15 person party is just as profitable to the place as 15 random people would be. I just expected a more welcoming phone call. He just really left a sour taste in my mouth.

It's so hard to book larger groups in NY, especially at newer, more popular places. Restaurants want no part of it. But I may look around for alternatives now. Any ideas? Sigh

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  1. I booked a birthday party for about 10 people at Extra Virgin over the summer with only about a week to go. You may consider looking into it.

    1. Crispo seems to treat large groups very nicely. It may be too late to get a res, though.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rrems

        What about Blue Fin?
        Or West End Cafe?
        Or Trattoria Trecolori?

      2. Popular & busy? They're cranky because they have a place serving fried food in a time when no one wants to eat fried food! 1/2 block down on Carmine is Toscana (once called Oreste). They have great food. I was there a week ago with 12 people. We ate like kings at a comfy table. Franco (the owner) made a fuss and we ate for two hours, with no sense of hurry. We went from antipasti, (fliet mignon in green sauce, calamari fritti) to pasta (wild boar ragu) to main ( I had the rabbit, my buddies went the gamut between veal chops and a branzino type whitefish). Then we knocked off some desserts. Three great courses paced over hours. When I walked by Barfry afterwards, it looked pretty dead. I think false bravado is in play when they act tough about rezzies.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sing me a bar

          bar fry has a plenty of non fried food that is great

        2. I walked by there at 9pm the other night and there were 2 patrons in the place and staff was picking their noses. It was Sunday night, but if it were "popular and busy," that woudn't even be a factor. Market Table, down the block, looked to be doing brisk business.

          3 Replies
          1. re: billyeats

            Market Table is a joy! Another great choice on what is becoming an embarassment of choices on Carmine. Even Yama beats Barfry as far as eating options. At least there you can have a little tempura, but not to the exclusion of any other type of food. At Barfry there are maybe three options that aren't fried. See the review in the NYT.

            1. re: sing me a bar

              Things seem to have changed since the NYT review in October ... http://www.chow.com/digest/4867

              You're right, the "no fry zone" section of the menu still has just three items. But when you count the non-fried starters and specials, there are a lot of options.

              50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

            2. re: billyeats

              "I walked by there at 9pm the other night and there were 2 patrons in the place and staff was picking their noses."


              mla19, i hope you find an alternative. i hate rudeness.

            3. Fugedabouttit.....just go and enjoy. Don't let that putz bring you down. He may have just been having a bad day (no excuse, just saying) and orchestrating anyplace on a saturday night is tough. Some people still think that threatening ppl with losing their actually works. Enjoyment is always the best revenge.

              2 Replies
              1. re: thegreekone

                I would modify that slightly: enjoyment in someone else's establishment is always the best revenge. Why reward this type of behavior?

                1. re: punkin712

                  hahahahaha......if an owner or manager "did me like that", I would definitely agree!

              2. Yeh, I'd add that I was walking up from the Film Forum last night on Bedford a little after 8, and all the usual suspects were bursting...but BarFry was half-empty.

                1. it is so easy to turn someone off when basic social skills and diplomacy would have made it easy on you. i am fussy about people being nice in person and on the phone. i just think often the people hired to take calls are simply not skilled or disarming enough to be creatively critical or honest.. that said., the waitstaff there is always nie and the food is terrific.

                  1. I live right around the corner from there and what I find most interesting is that it hasn't really been that packed. The people there are usually quite nice to me, which is why I go to the bar with friends a lot, and the food is good, but I have never seen it anything close to being packed.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: bocce

                      do you hear folks talking about it in the nabe? do you have any thoughts on the reasons it may not be packed?

                      1. re: nativeNYer

                        NNYer, It's 2008 and it's almost totally fried foods. I don't mean to sound terse, but how often to you eat fried stuff? If I go to a Japanese place I MIGHT mooch a tempura shrimp off a family member, (that's how morally bankrupt I am), but as a dinner mainstay, it gets heavy. Especially when the whole neighborhood is rife with great alternatives that, while they may not be vegan strongholds, are not so high in fat content.

                        1. re: sing me a bar

                          It's 2008, but some of us are still gluttons. (The French / freedom fry industry seems to be doing just fine, non?)

                          I'll gladly eat fried almost anything every once in a while. And I guess that's why I like BarFry. :)

                        2. re: nativeNYer

                          I live right across the street, and had heard bad reviews right after it opened. But, we decided to give it a try a few weeks ago and were pleasantly surprised. It was a friday night and only half full at around 9pm. I thought the service was good, and there were a lot of non-fried food options. It's obviously a touchy subject with the staff, and our waiter made an obvious effort to point out the non-fried options. There was a fluke appetizer that we really liked, and also the tempura pieces weren't as heavy as I heard they were when they first opened. So, in summary, sounds like they're suffering from a weak opening, but they're trying to improve the menu based on the feedback. I would go back.

                        3. re: bocce

                          I went on a late Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. The bar was pleasant - they've got half priced drinks from 4 to 6. After drinks we were seated for dinner. We had the shrimp and shitake mushroom tempura and for a main I had their pork loin. The food was solid - not a revelation but I'd certainly go back if I was in the neighborhood. FWIW the place was 60% - 70% full when we left around 8:30. No, it's not Momofuko Ssam Bar but they do decent business. During the evening the bartenders and waitstaff were unfailingly courteous.

                          Referring back to the original poster's issue, they probably could have been more diplomatic about having the full party arrive on time but that's an issue with lots of restaurants. People book tables and then don't show up, or half the party arrives late and the tables sit empty at a busy period. The restaurant is within their rights to make their policy clear.

                          They could very well have had some recent incidents with people showing up late or half the group arriving at the designated time. It could have made them sensitive to the issue and they wanted to make things clear up front.

                          Welcome to New York, 2008.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            Guess that happy hour pricing is by whim. I went on a Sat at 5 and was charged $7 for a pint of beer. For non-happy hour prices, that's insane. For happy hour prices - criminal. And it was the manager who rung me up - not a newbie bartender who might've not known the prices. And I was the only person there except a small party. I really want to like the place - hopefully the little things that make you want to return as a local will get sorted out. They did seem nice though.

                            1. re: captkenjeroo

                              The happy hour policy was listed on a chalk board outside the bar on the day I went. I just assumed that it was a regular thing.

                              1. re: captkenjeroo

                                I wasn't sure they had happy hour pricing on weekends?

                                What was the beer? A pint of artisinal something or other for $7 is not unusual for non-HH...but it does sound steep for HH pricing.

                                1. re: thegreekone

                                  I was pretty excited when I rolled in at 5 and saw the board with the happy hour policy (which it was right smack in the middle of when i arrived and left.) However, i just didn't get the happy hour pricing i guess (unless $7 is that price.) thegreekone - you're probably right that $7 is not unusual for a pint - especially for artisanal beer - but it still feels pricey for the nabe. it was Samurai Ale (from Colorado's Great Divide Brewery) and I thought it was great (a blonde ale) as i was thirsty from a bike ride and it was a good thirst quencher with some body. after leaving a $2 tip i felt that at $9 a pint, it was going to be hard to become a local regular. i do like the place though and will give it another shot and maybe this time, ask about the happy hour pricing.

                                2. re: captkenjeroo

                                  I had the same thing happen there recently. Dropped by on a Saturday afternoon with a friend on a whim and were pleased to see happy hour specials. For our first round, we were charged the regular drink price. Thought that was pretty strange. Seeing now that it's happened more than once is pretty interesting.

                            2. I understand a restaurant being worried about preparing for a big party and then having them not show up or show up very late. But, there are ways to handle that more politely. Especially with the economy being what it is and BarFry not being a tough reservation to get. And if your friends had/do like it, they might bring others there.

                              If they are really concerned, then perhaps they should have taken a deposit from you. There is no excuse for rudeness.

                              1. I'd call back and ask to speak to a manager and relay the story.

                                That is unacceptable.

                                1 Reply