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Blue Smoke - what a joke

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  • sam_1 Dec 8, 2009 08:10 AM
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Ok, so I realize that this restaurant isn't exactly the epitome of fine dining in Manhattan...but we were looking for a place we could walk in late on a Sunday night (visiting from Toronto). There seemed to be some decent recommendations for this place, so we thought we'd give it a try.

In one word, I would describe this place as TERRIBLE. We waited about 1/2 hr, which is what the hostess said the wait would be (no issues there). Our waiter was rude from the start, and not just a little condescending. When I ordered a glass of wine, he mistook my selection and said "that's a rose, just so you know". If I had actually ordered the wine he had thought I had, he was assuming that I couldn't read - obviously it was clearly listed as a rose. I chose a syrah, which was unavailable. He then had the bright idea that I try the pinot noir, because "it's similar to shiraz" - WHAT? You don't understand wine - fine. But you should have a basic understanding of your list, and not make recommendations when you have no idea.

Our food came. We had an order of the hush puppies - raw inside and served with a sickly sweet sauce. Fine, moving on. Then came the mains - full rack of KC spareribs with a side of collard greens, and the pulled pork platter. First the ribs - extremely tough, difficult to eat. I think I got through about three before giving up. Greens were ok, but barely lukewarm. The pulled pork was dry, and came with some truly horrific beans (canned?) that were also lukewarm.

We opted out of dessert, but were ordering more drinks. Our wannabe hipster waiter then unceremoniously dropped the bill (check) on our table with not so much as a thank you.

I know this place is only mentioned occasionally on this board, but I guess I wanted to give a heads-up to other visitors etc who may be considering trying it. Stay away!

(BTW we had the pulled pork sandwiches at RUB and they were FANTASTIC).

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Blue Smoke
116 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

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  1. Wow... no excuse for that kind of treatment. Danny Meyer restaurants are known for their hospitality and excellent service, no matter how high/low-brow the place.

    How late did you walk in? Not that it should matter. If they're open and serving dinner, you should expect the same service at any other time of day.

    I realize it probably doesn't make any difference to you now, but a phone call, email or letter to the management might at least make you feel better. Maybe they had the JV team there on Sunday. But STILL... that shouldn't happen and it's extremely uncharacteristic of any of Meyer's places. I recommend Blue Smoke to people who want "pretty good" BBQ in a regular, full service restaurant-- as opposed to RUB which is more like a bbq-shack experience...or Hill Country, which is more like cafeteria-style.

    7 Replies
    1. re: egit

      I agree, send them a letter/email - Meyer's restaurant group takes service seriously enough that there's a chance you might even get a response. That said, I've had similarly off-putting service experiences at Blue Smoke on my last two visits. Like egit, I'd always considered it a safe fallback for a casual, conservative, filling meal; however, the food you've described sounds inexcusably poor (the burger rarely lets me down, for whatever that's worth), and bad food coupled with brusque, inconsiderate service would be enough to keep me away.

      1. re: CalJack

        I'm shocked myself. I never had a bad experience there and ive gone too many time to even count.

        1. re: smokeandapancake

          Thanks for your replies - I guess I just really wanted to vent! I will have a look at their site and consider contacting them...still looking forward to coming back to NYC (great city) but won't go back there. This was a last-minute trip so I didn't have time to make those insane month-ahead reservations. Next time I'll plan in advance :)

          BTW we were there around 8:00 - tons of people were piling in for over an hour after that. The restaurant was full...

          1. re: sam_1

            8:00, no resies, i could understand the seating issues...i hate that you had a bad experience there though. That place makes me happy.

            1. re: sam_1

              i was there on sunday and probably walked past you on the way out.

              we got there around 7:15 and only had to wait around 10 min.

              our waitress forgot our shrimp corn dog appetizer, but apologized and took it off the bill first thing.

              we got our entrees pretty quick so i didn't miss the app.

              we split the burger and pulled pork platter, quite satisfying. burger is a little small and the pulled pork was a little dry but that's what the sauce on the table is for.

              give it another try next time you are in town.

              1. re: travpard

                Definitely dont give it another try next time in town. There are a ton of better BBQ places in NYC and regardless of the food rude service never warrants a return trip.
                Hill Country, Dinosaur, RUB, Daisy Mays.....all better experiences.

                1. re: princeofpork

                  I'd agree with princeofpork on this one. The treatment and food quality you've described are accurate. Over the past 5 years, I've been there at least 7 times b/c I've gotten dragged by other people but, luckily, they've now caught on as well. As I was reading your entree, I was hoping you didn't get the ribs b/c that would clearly only make your experience even worse. Ironic? Yes, b/c one primarily goes there to order ribs. Burgers there, maybe. That's the only menu item that doesn't seem to generate complaints. Service, attitude, etc. are awful. I mean really. Glad you've spread the word to locals and tourists.

      2. Sorry you had to experience that. It's surprising considering that it's a Danny Meyer restaurant. But I guess it can happen. I would recommend reservations if one is planning on coming here for dinner. It can get pretty crowded.

        I was there a couple of weeks ago and thought that the service was fine. Due to miscommunication, they screwed up my order. I pointed it out to them and requested them to rectify it. They didn't bat an eye and sent me a new burger. I know at some other places I would have gotten an eye roll.

        I will say that you can probably do better if you want BBQ at other restaurants in Manhattan. But I do love their burger and chocolate cake.

        1. Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience.

          My wife and I were there early on Sunday (we probly sat down at about 6:20). We had an enjoyable meal. I had the fried chicken, which was great. My wife had the pulled pork, which was also very good and not dry at all.

          We had a minor service problem in that our waitress disappeared for a while, but another server noticed us looking around, asked how he could help, and then took care of our request.

          I guess it shows that even on a particular night, restaurants can be inconsistent from diner to diner. Shouldn't happen though. I agree that you should contact them and see how they respond.

          1. Sounds about right. I've stopped recommending it to people, and stopped going myself.
            Something changed in both the quality of management, and level of food. Danny Meyer moved on to focusing new pet projects, I guess?

            Sunday's and lunches are especially iffy there. There was a time when I found the staff impressive, but now, they don't even know their own menu.

            1. This restaurant is very inconsistent. And the whole Danny Meyers "hospitality" is a bunch of shit. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they dont. But there is nothing special about the service at any of his restaurants. Not saying its bad but fine.

              2 Replies
              1. re: trixareforkids

                very well-stated!!!!

                1. re: trixareforkids

                  i had great service at Union Square Cafe a couple months ago, but you can't really compare to Blue Smoke

                2. Boy, we had a completely different experience at Blue Smoke. My husband, sons and I ate there recently and one son ordered a Blue Smoke burger. When they brought it, it was the kids burger (he is 19 years old and 6 feet tall). The server apologized and put in an order for another burger. The rest of us ate our meal and the manager came over and again apologized and comped all of our lunches! I expected that they would comp my son's meal, but to do that for all of us was really great of them.
                  We eat there from time to time, but we will definitely return again because of this. The food is always hot, fresh and tasty and the service is usually quick and friendly.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bookchickdi

                    Was it a food runner who brought the burger, or your waiter? If it was your waiter, he should have caught it before bringing it to the table.

                    I miss Blue Smoke, when it was in top form... a great burger, and pretty decent bbq with the Danny Meyer hospitality, was a perfect combo. The place doesn't work if it turns into Applebee's.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      sugartoof, how long ago would you say it was in top form? i first ate there back in feb 2004 and actually liked it but, as of late 2006, it has been exactly as sam_1 has described.

                      1. re: nativeNYer

                        I think your timeline is right on. Maybe closer to 2007, but there was a noticeable change around that time.

                        It was also around then that I had an easier time walking in to EMP than Blue Smoke without reservations. I got the feeling they couldn't handle the popularity and turn over their tables with the quality of service/food they had previously. (Just for fun I checked open table for last minute, and Blue Smoke is booked solid tonight, while EMP has a 9:30.)

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          very, very interesting. many thanks, sugartoof!