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Apr 30, 2008 11:49 AM

El Dorado Kitchen - tourist trap?

I went to El Dorado Kitchen on the square in Sonoma Sunday without reservations and we were told there would be a ten minute wait. We went to the bar and right after we ordered cocktails the hostess told us our table was ready. We were seated on the patio, where there were several open tables, so I'm not sure why we had the wait. But, it was fine.

I ordered the most inexpensive bottle of zinfandel for $32 and then we ordered our food. We had already been served when the waiter told us they were out of the wine I had ordered. I selected another bottle for $39. I was OK with that but by the time the second bottle arrived we were all just about finished with our food so we declined it.

This wouldn't have been such a problem if the exact same thing hadn't happened when I ate there in August, except that time they didn't have the second selection either so they comped us two glasses of an unnamed pinot from the bar.

So what's with that? Do they think their customers are tourists who won't be returning - so they get them to buy drinks at the bar and try to upsell them on the wine? I e-mailed them Monday to let them know I had this experience twice and got no reply.

This kind of ploy really detracts from the food. I had mussels with fries and it was very good, but not the best I have ever had. (That would be Plouf and the Washington Square B&G, I'm sad to say.) Two had the bay shrimp sandwich and one had the chopped salad, and everyone was happy with their meals.

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  1. In defense of EDK, I would suggest the possibility that your experience was more due to staffing. Perhaps the patio was understaffed that day and the hostess felt your needs would be met faster, if you actually waited for the server to catch up a bit managing current tables before seating you. Perhaps you had to wait to find out about the 1st bottle because the server was looking for an out-of-stock bottle and didn't know it was out-of-stock. As to why the second bottle took so long to arrive, who knows. Doesn't sound like a bait and switch MO though. Especially since on your previous visit EDK comped your wine. Mid range restaurants rarely have a sophisticated wine program, run by a sommelier who's job is to manage the inventory and train staff and communicate availibility. The task rests on the shoulders of a manager(s) who have other responsibilities as well.
    I have never eaten at this place, but your experience hardly sounds like tourist trap antics. Not to say it isn't or they don't have bad behaviors, just not in your case.
    The weather was lovely on Sunday, you got to sit outside rather promptly w/o resos and had a nice meal... And I bet that by the end of the week you will have heard from them.