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Craigie on Main advice?

j
johnblacksox May 12, 2010 05:50 PM

I love L'Espalier, but I'm bummed about their move from a beautiful brownstone to a hotel.

I decided to try Craigie on Main due to their good buzz. I just called to make reservations, but had to go through a phone tree, and they funneled me to a voicemail box to leave a reservation request. Huge red flag.

Honestly, I find that extremely rude and off-putting for a higher-end restaurant. They can't afford someone to answer the phone??? ...the hell???

I left my request, but I'm already irritated and disappointed in this place. The vibe I'm getting is "We are so trendy that we can make potential diners jump through hoops to eat here." Even if I get the reservation, I'm tempted to bag it and just go to L'Espalier instead.

Any thoughts? Such as, "You're over-reacting to their arrogant customer service, and you'll enjoy dinner there" or "Yeah, they've gotten too popular for their own good" or something else?

I'd appreciate the candor.

Thanks!!!

-----
L'Espalier
774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

  1. barleywino May 12, 2010 06:13 PM

    If you called them shortly after 5:30 (when the doors open), the host/hostess was probably in the dining room or bar seating the multiple parties who tend to line up outside the door before they open. I doubt "attitude" has anything to do with it, I have always found the hosts/hostesses there to be uniformly gracious and welcoming. If you're already irritated and disappointed, you're better off not going.

    3 Replies
    1. re: barleywino
      j
      johnblacksox May 12, 2010 06:23 PM

      Hm, I called at 4:00, then again at 8:30. Same thing both times, automated reply.

      I dunno, I just think it's odd to direct reservation requests to voicemail. I can't remember the last time I heard that.

      You're right, I better bag it for now...

      1. re: johnblacksox
        barleywino May 12, 2010 06:45 PM

        i have always had exceptional service there fwiw, they are genuinely friendly...but don't go if you're getting a bad vibe

        1. re: johnblacksox
          c
          cbcpapa Aug 27, 2010 04:44 AM

          Although not common here whenever I travel home to Portland, OR and try to make reservations at any of their high end restaurants almost all of them make you leave a voicemail and they call you back. And almost all of these restaurants would probably be considered below Craigie in terms of the level of fine dining. It's not something I've ever thought of as arrogant nor really an inconvenience. They call you back.

      2. s
        SunGlow May 12, 2010 06:32 PM

        They were fabulous to us - we had made an Opentable reservation, but mixed up the dates. Even though we were at fault, they made space for us and were extremely gracious. I so appreciated the extra effort, and we had a lovely meal.

        9 Replies
        1. re: SunGlow
          t
          twin1 May 12, 2010 06:35 PM

          I also made reservations thru Open Table and got a great table and a truly unforgettable (albeit expensive!) meal!

          1. re: SunGlow
            j
            johnblacksox May 12, 2010 06:44 PM

            Ok, cool, thanks for the feedback! (Sunglow and twin1)

            1. re: SunGlow
              kobuta May 12, 2010 08:49 PM

              Me 4. I've made my reservations with them each time via OpenTable - never any problems and friendly staff. Not sure why it has to be thru the phone in this age of modern technology. Honestly, if they can take a live person to attend to something that absolutely requires a person to take care of (i.e., service in the restaurant), Id rather they invest in that than someone who's just watching the phones.

              1. re: kobuta
                j
                johnblacksox May 13, 2010 06:34 PM

                Technically, you don't need a live person to write down your order either. You could text it to the chef.

                All you need is someone to carry it to your table.

                1. re: johnblacksox
                  kobuta May 13, 2010 06:51 PM

                  I actually find the advice on the menu and the attention from the waitstaff to be extremely valuable, and it's something I expect from the service. I want the waitstaff to be able to educate me on the menu or offer a recommendation when asked.

                  I have yet to find having to call for a reservation to offer significantly more value or a better experience than booking the thing online. And on the two occasions I have had to call them to give them a heads up that I wanted to do a tasting menu, both times they picked up - no problems.

                  1. re: kobuta
                    j
                    johnblacksox May 13, 2010 07:08 PM

                    If you feel it's ok for a high end restaurant to ask me to leave a voicemail request for reservations, and then never return my message, then let's agree to disagree on what is acceptable customer service.

                    The theory that this was somehow my fault doesn't fly. I actually made two attempts to make a reservation (three, if you count my still unreturned voicemail).

                    No big deal, no lives were lost, I'm moving on.

                    1. re: johnblacksox
                      barleywino May 14, 2010 04:09 AM

                      i find phone reservations at restaurants to be unreliable in general-- you get there and find that they have no record of your reservation, or any special requests. At least with Opentable you can print it out. I'm sure that even if you did go to Craigie, you would find some other aspect of the service that would tick you off. Best to find another place. PS. you don't need a reservation to eat there, btw, just show up when they open.

                      1. re: johnblacksox
                        kobuta May 14, 2010 12:55 PM

                        No where was I suggesting this to be your fault, so I'm sorry if you misread that in my message. On the other hand, I do think there's a very easy and convenient work around and one that takes less time then posting and soliciting a response from a news board.

                        Maybe my plebeian sensibilities don't demand perfection from waitstaff. I admit I am very forgiving unless I'm getting downright 'tude from staff. But it's a tough job and it takes a lot to run a restaurant well. I personally am not prepared to write a whole place off or stick it to a worker for one (IMO) minor issue that I can easily work around.

                    2. re: johnblacksox
                      c
                      CODENT Aug 26, 2010 07:20 PM

                      !

                2. c
                  cherrytomato May 13, 2010 04:36 AM

                  Do not be irritated because this place is truly wonderful. The service matches the food in terms of excellence. The service is incredibly warm and informative. I cannot remember the last time I had such warm service at such a fine restaurant. Even though it is difficult to get a reservation there once you do and you go you will be treated like family when you arrive. They are not snobby in the least. I made my reservation for a saturday night on opentable and it took me three weeks to get in. When I got there the place was packed and the customers were pretty nifty. It's a very cool place with a great vibe and the food is just spectacular. You will not be disappointed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cherrytomato
                    c
                    cambridgedoctpr Aug 27, 2010 09:47 AM

                    my experience is that the waitstaff tries hard, and everyone of them wants to make it a good experience; the wait staff does not have a supercilious attitude. That said; they are a bit precious and the kitchen is unbending.

                  2. k
                    kimfair1 May 13, 2010 06:56 AM

                    Craigie is my wife and my favorite restaurant in town, but we too have always booked on Open Table, so we've never experienced the voice mail thing (which I agree is annoying, and should be fixed). I'll echo what everyone else has said, however in that when you dine there, both the food and the service are exemplary. If I were you, I'd try booking through Open Table, avoid the phone tree, and enjoy one of the finest meals you'll have in Boston. I always recommend the blind tasting menu, or get a seat in the bar area (you can request that in the comments section on Open Table), and then you have access to the bar menu as well, with it's yummy Crispy Fried Pig Tails, and it's exceptional burger.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: kimfair1
                      StriperGuy May 13, 2010 07:12 AM

                      How long have you been married to Craigie?

                      I like the place, but honestly do find the vibe, service, etc a tad on the precious side. There is always a faint undercurrent that YOU the customer are lucky to be dining there in my book.

                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        justbeingpolite May 13, 2010 07:22 AM

                        Why would someone want to dine in your book, doesn't one risk paper cuts?

                        I've actually never had trouble booking, on Open table, or over the phone. Haven't tried the bar for a meal yet, but I'd like to. They do give the "foodie" vibe off, but that's their thing, I guess. I've had great meals, but occasionally a little on the "heavy" (too much blood products) side.

                        1. re: justbeingpolite
                          StriperGuy May 13, 2010 07:39 AM

                          I'd rather eat the food then the bar, all those splinters.

                          They do like their pork/offal/meat at Craigie.

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            justbeingpolite May 13, 2010 12:44 PM

                            Bazinga!!

                            1. re: justbeingpolite
                              l
                              lulu806 May 13, 2010 01:41 PM

                              Haven't eaten at Craigie yet but this entire exchange made me chuckle :)

                              1. re: justbeingpolite
                                j
                                johnblacksox May 13, 2010 06:36 PM

                                Haha...I agree! Thanks for the laugh! (And the advice)

                          2. re: StriperGuy
                            k
                            kimfair1 May 17, 2010 08:45 PM

                            I don't work for, nor am I "married" to Craigie. Craigie is my favorite restaurant in Boston, but Hugo's in Portland Maine is my favorite restaurant. I've never felt the undercurrent that I should be happy to eat there (perhaps because I usually eat in the bar area or preferably at the bar proper). I've never gotten the "precious" comment that I've heard you and others espouse (both about Craigie and Hugo's). Is it because they describe the dish to you when they drop it off? I like to know what I'm eating. I don't have an issue with servers explaining what's on my plate. At Hugo's when you get the blind tasting they give you a sheet with the courses listed (especially nice as they also list the paired wines, which can help you track down a wine you especially liked). I usually recommend the blind tasting when people ask for a recommendation as frankly my best meals there (and at it'sold location which I also loved) have been the tastings, and I've often been underwhelmed at the entrees I've ordered off the menu OMG! Did I just say something negative about Craigie? Please, I'm sure there are restaurants you have recommended or like that I don't, just because I like this one doesn't make me married to them. The comment makes you seem a bit catty, however, as generally I enjoy your input on the boards.

                            1. re: kimfair1
                              p
                              pollystyrene May 18, 2010 01:41 AM

                              But you said, "Craigie is my wife...."

                              1. re: kimfair1
                                StriperGuy May 18, 2010 06:23 AM

                                I was just goofing on your choice of words; your post started with you saying: "Craigie is my wife."

                                See the whole string of goofy wordplay that follows.

                                The attitude is a bit much at Craigie at times, but I would not deny that it is in the top tier of restos in Boston. The food ranges from very good to occasionally sublime.

                                I was just making a wordplay pun.

                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  k
                                  kimfair1 May 18, 2010 08:15 AM

                                  This is what happens when you read a response without expanding the previous posts! Sorry, I had read it as an indictment of my obvious love of Craigie, and not my poor choice of word order.

                          3. m
                            miikimama May 13, 2010 07:42 AM

                            Not exactly related but we dropped in to try out the premier burgers-
                            Okay, not fab. Fries limp, weak in a word: pathetic.
                            Best thing- homemade ketchup of which we got about 2 TBL worth. Lame.
                            Overrated, overpriced.
                            The original Craigie was much cooler...warmer....
                            Save your pennies and go elsewhere.
                            Won't name my fave as locals know it but crowded enough as it is!

                            1. gini May 13, 2010 12:57 PM

                              I've booked through OpenTable with no issue. If you're already irritated though, bag it.

                              On another note, I've been a couple times now, but only at the bar, and only had positive experiences. The last time I went (2 weeks ago), I was with a group of work colleagues from Europe and we were nothing but disappointed with the dining room experience. As Stripey points out above, there's an undercurrent of preciousness running through the place that grated on all of our nerves. None of us felt that the attitude nor the price point was warranted when the food was good, but not exceptional. Really, the meal was perfectly pleasant and the food was good, but it wasn't great. We all walked away thinking: "meh". I may continue to eat at the bar, but for a high end experience, I've crossed Craigie off of my list.

                              1. j
                                johnblacksox May 13, 2010 06:31 PM

                                Update:

                                The restaurant never even returned my voice message requesting a table. Wow.

                                So to recap, I wanted to eat there, they forced me to leave a voicemail, then never returned it.

                                I know, I know, "Use OpenTable", right? Sorry, I'm not buying that. This is lame customer service. If they refuse to take reservations by phone (which is insane and obnoxious), then they should at least say that, rather than requesting you leave a message which they will never return. Crazy.

                                I have no doubt that this is a good place to eat, based on all the positive reviews, but this is a huge turn off to me. I'm moving on.

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