Tanoreen- uphill alert!
I arrived at Tanoreen at 5:30 last night, party of 3, looking forward to supporting Rawia's new restaurant location. The new spot is gorgeous, corner location, tons of windows and a full bar!
I was asked if we had reservations, which seemed odd for a party of 3 at 5:30 in a restaurant 1/2 empty. There were at least 15 tables open. When I said no I was told their first opening was at 9:30. Was there a hovering crowd of 5:30 diners waiting to get in? No. Were there empty tables pushed together waiting for a big party? No.
Tanoreen is not on Opentable nor do they take reservations on their website. As well, I've never recalled needing a reservation in the years I've been going there. Am I missing something?
Oh, how the mighty have risen.
It may be that those empty tables were reserved for 6pm . Additionally, a party of 3 requires a table for 4. If they take a walk-in, they'd probably prefer a party of 4.
Haviing had the same thing happen to me at a different resto I now always make a reservation. Except for very casual places, if they don't accept reservations I choose another resto.
Partially your fault, I might add. After I posted my possible downhill alert in another thread, you convinced me to try again: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668978
Well, I went back a week or two ago and found a packed new place with great food and Raiwa in the kitchen and out front, joined by her daughter. Unlike you, we made reservations... otherwise we wouldnt have gotten in either. The new place has a front room with bar and another side room under glass. Maybe double the size of the old place all told? And every seat was taken at 7pm, staying that way till at least 9:30pm. And the bar was crowded and the 3 bar stool tables all taken too (with diners, not just drinkers). It was nice to see.
The food was as good as the old place ever was. We over ordered so as to have take home and a better sampling. The fatoush salad was fresh, the eggplant napoleon non greasy and with a lot of eggplant salad within, and the meat sambosek (small meat pies) were full of greaseless flavorful meat. The Lamb Fetti was full of lamb meat and was good for 3 solid meals and the Baked Mediterranean Eggplant was just as I remembered it from years ago... it stays one of my all time favorite dishes there. They have a liquor license but are still learning how to make cocktails.. the one I had was mediocre. But the wine list is decent, with fairly priced & drinkable reds and whites available. Not their strong suit, but fine. It was a little over $100 for the 2 of us, all in, and we had both salad and entree leftovers that were substantial. Make a reservation.
re: Steve R
I know it was my fault but....5:30 at a 1/2 empty resto turned away? I agree that its partially due to my raving ( not on Chowhound exclusively but I rave this place whenever I can ). I do reminisce of the old days when you could walk in there any day anytime before 7pm without a reservation and get a seat. My gripe is based in snobbery I guess. I probably won't go back if I have to make a reservation, at least not on a Saturday. I also remember DiFara when you could get pizza in less than 6 hours.
I love Tanoreen. I absolutely adore Rawia's style, her boldness and the copious parsley profusions.
However, after many meals, I have two issues with Tanoreen.
1) The appetizers are consistently better than the entrees.
The appetizers are amazing, the eggplant napoleon is a vegetarian dream, luscious, flavorful with contrasting texture.
The sambosek has a pleasant sourness and the parsley complements it wonderfully.
The lachmajun is out of this world. Generously meaty, smothered with fragrant almonds.
Every appetizer I have tried has been better than the entrees, with the exception of the lamb fetti which is truly an exceptional entree. The kebabs are never consistent and have only been good once. The shepherds pie was mediocre, not terrible but not good. The coconut curry chicken was mildly flavored, slightly dry and uncharacteristically meek for a curry.
2) The dishes are expensive. The food as fantastic as it is, is not a good value. I ate in the new location for lunch and the bill came to nearly $50 for one person. In Brooklyn. In Bayridge. That is simply too expensive. There are other restaurants that provide Middle Eastern food that come close and are less expensive. Tava in Port Washington is fantastic Turkish food with similar elements.
Something possessed me to book a table for Friday evening, knowing that Tanoreen had recently opened at its new location. My reservation was for 6:30 and the place was about one-third occupied at that time. By the time we paid our check (7:45), every table was occupied. So, it seems, that success has come big time: with 80 seats, a full bar and a middling Lebanese Bordeaux-style red wine @ $10 a glass, things will be a bit different.
But, not the food. We enjoyed a fabulous meal (for 2, with one glass of wine each, came to $82 including tax, but not tip). Raiwa came to our table, shared some reflections on the new location (the interior design is entirely her's) and made sure we were enjoying our food.
I have posted a few kvetches about being refused a seat on a walk-in in a nearly empty restaurant (happened to me twice at Stone Park Cafe..won't go back), so I know the feeling that results when you see a joint nearly empty and cannot be seated. I bet if you offered to vacate the table in an hour, they might have seated you. Also, I bet they would have served you the full menu at the bar.
I cn only get upset when I have a reservation and can't be seated. A restaurant doesnt make money by keeping tables open.So I have to trust that they know what they are doing..One day when I can get it together to think ahead, I will make a reservation. In the meantime, Sally and George and Turqua Grill will see my business- no hard feelings...
I haven't been to the new location yet but it looks very inviting and I will go soon. I know how good the food is from the old location. Does the need for a reservation only apply to Saturday night or other nights too? Sometimes it's a little hard to plan ahead re what time I'll be ready for dinner and, in general, I don't tend to go to restaurants that require reservations. I live in Bay Ridge so I'm wondering whether I could walk in on a weeknight or maybe Sunday or late Friday? Regardless, I'm very happy to hear how busy the new place is. This success is very much deserved.