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Domenica

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Crabby Clara Feb 21, 2011 04:39 PM

On Sunday night, I arrived at  Domenica early for a 9:30 reservation (we had called and the hostess had said they might be able to seat us earlier than 9:30.  When we arrived at 8:45,  we saw about ten  empty tables but the hostess  told us to wait in the then crowded bar area.  In about five or ten minutes, we found a seat at a bar table.  At around 9:15, the hostess offered us a restaurant table but we decided to stay at the bar table.   We asked her why she hadn't seated us at one of the ten empty tables we could see from the bar (that had remained empty since we had arrived).  She seemed offended and rudely said there were other parties in front of us (even though she hadn't seated anyone from the bar while we were waiting).  If it had been earlier in the evening (and if I hadn't been looking at the still empty tables), I probably would have believed this explanation.

I can't figure out why the restaurant wouldn't want to seat customers at the empty tables.  Are they trying to increase the bar revenue?  We probably would have spent more on alcohol if they had seated us at a restaurant table immediately.

This is the second time that I have had to wait at the bar at Domenica for at least a half hour while I could see many empty tables.

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Domenica
123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

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    JazzyB RE: Crabby Clara Feb 22, 2011 03:30 AM

    I've walked in many times during "happy hour" and never had a problem being seated immediately. If it still bothers you, call during the day and complain to the manager.

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      shanefink RE: Crabby Clara Feb 22, 2011 06:06 AM

      On Sunday nights, they probably cut one or two servers early. That would mean that the remaining servers have more tables than they can handle. Sometimes restaurants are doing you a favor and telling you that you will get subpar service if you are seated at that moment. It's really impossible to tell a guest that in a way that they wouldn't get upset.

      4 Replies
      1. re: shanefink
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        collardman RE: shanefink Feb 22, 2011 09:46 AM

        I agree. If there is a section of empty tables it may be because FOTH or kitchen can't handle them. And management would rather not say that they can't seat you because someone didn't show up or they have to get their personnel costs down and tried it on a "slow" night

        1. re: collardman
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          Crabby Clara RE: collardman Feb 23, 2011 05:03 PM

          Thanks, shanefink and collardman. That's probably the explanation. I probably would have preferred the truth (as opposed to being sent to the crowded bar area).

          1. re: Crabby Clara
            Bill Hunt RE: Crabby Clara Feb 23, 2011 06:39 PM

            Clara,

            I feel as you do.

            Going back some years, there was a Dallas-based restaurant group, that developed a marketing plan - always make the diners wait for 45 mins., regardless of the availability of tables, or servers, to sell appetizers and drinks. The restaurant industry heralded this plan as the "wave of the future," and a real "profit center." We experienced this first-hand, when three of their restaurants opened in Denver. You could arrive at any time, and on any night, and the response, regardless of one's reservations was, "oh, there's a 45 min. wait. Please have a seat at the bar, and we'll seat you, as soon as we can."

            Went one night at about 6:00PM in a mini-blizzard. There were about 5 cars in the parking lot, and 4 must have been staff. There was one 2-top occupied, and the rest of the restaurant was totally empty. We had reservations for 6:00PM, and when we were told that we'd have a 45 min. wait, left, and never returned to any of their restaurants again. BTW - their food was nothing to wait 5 mins. for either.

            I have seen similar, over the years, and usually vote with my shoes and my wallet. I honor my reservations, like a religion, and expect that restaurants will do the same. Several NOLA restaurants are off my list, for not honoring reservations, within a few minutes.

            If there are tables available, but there are no servers, just let me know, and I can handle that, especially if I am trying to dine early. I understand things like that, and will be in agreement, that we could wait - just tell me - I'm an adult.

            Good luck,

            Hunt

            1. re: Crabby Clara
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              lglenn5858 RE: Crabby Clara Mar 1, 2011 05:07 PM

              I agree. I spent about 60 nights over the past two years in N.O. and have had probably 5 meals at Domenica. While some meals have been better than others, the staff have been gracious and helpful, even when I was dining single.

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              Domenica
              123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

        2. Bill Hunt RE: Crabby Clara Feb 23, 2011 06:30 PM

          As Jazzy B commented, I would call and inquire. I have only dined there once, and cannot tell you how accommodating the staff was for us. That experience started with my call to discuss the dietary needs of one of our guests, my M-I-L. Within about 15 mins., the chef called my wife, and went over all of the possibilities, going so far as to offer to send a waiter to Popeye's on St. Charles, above Lee Circle, if necessary. M-I-L loves chicken, and Popeye's is a special meal for her. This was not necessary, but the offer was made! My wife worked out a special menu for her mom.

          We were staying at the Roosevelt, and our reservations for a party of 5 was for 9:00PM. We arrived at MSY, and then the rest of our party arrived and joined us. We were at the Roosevelt by about 7:30PM, and that should have been plenty of time - right? Well, it took about 30 mins. to get M-I-L unloaded with her wheelchair, and then having to move the van around the block, as the wheelchair ramp was around the corner from where the valet stand is. The valet finally had the van, and M-I-L was finally in the lobby. Hey, 8:00PM, so plenty of time. Well, even though my wife had spent about 4hours, in three calls to the Roosevelt, to get the exact rooms that we needed, and then confirmed twice, there were no such rooms in the hotel. We began trying to find what we could work with, and the Roosevelt could not have cared less. Their take was hey, sorry that you were told that we had such rooms, but we don't, so live with it. Nothing was working, and time was ticking.

          I called Domenica, and told them that we were in the hotel, but having issues. No problem. When all was said and done, and we had rooms that would work, M-I-L unpacked, and changed, we arrived at 9:30PM. The staff was about ready to leave, except for our servers, the chef, and the bussers. They were standing by to serve us. Our meal could not have been better. Though there were only a few folk at the bar, we were never rushed at any time. No one hovered, and everyone was very friendly and accommodating, even offering us desserts for our dealings with the Roosevelt. Though we finished, well after even the bar patrons had left, the staff was there to serve us, and presented M-I-L with a 90th birthday cake, and all sang to her. They all stood by the door, to wish her well.

          Thinking back on the meal, there is nothing that I could have asked for. The food was very good, with a few dishes going into the excellent category. The service was totally flawless, in every respect.

          I think that I can comfortably say that the management will speak with you, and will explain what might have happened. I would lean heavily to Shanefink's comments there, as I have seen that happen quite often. It's not the number of tables, but the number of servers, that often dictates seatings.

          Now, my experience was almost the opposite of yours - arriving late, virtually empty restaurant, but still excellent service. Still, they "hit on every cylinder," and could not have been any more accommodating. I was greatly impressed. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for any aspect of the Roosevelt, and we had the Astoria Suite, and had booked a smaller suite for M-I-L and her nurse, so we were not talking about cheap rooms. The Roosevelt needs to hire the management team from Domenica, and things would be much better.

          Good luck, and please update your thread with the management's reply.

          Hunt

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          Domenica
          123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112

          4 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt
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            Edward Tyson RE: Bill Hunt Feb 23, 2011 07:00 PM

            Hunt,

            I always enjoy your informative comments. I especially appreciate it coming from someone who is a fan of Blackberry Farm.

            ET

            1. re: Edward Tyson
              Bill Hunt RE: Edward Tyson Feb 23, 2011 07:49 PM

              Edward,

              Thank you for the kind comments.

              Yes, I am possibly Blackberry Farm's biggest fan, but then they have done so well, and deserve all that I can say about them.

              Just did my 40th anniversary at the lovely L'Auberge de Sedona, in AZ, and the chef created three special "tasting menus" with wine pairings for us - just lovely! When we sat down with the staff there, we could not help but compare them to Blackberry Farm, and share some of our experiences. They are similar in many respects, but could learn a bit from Blackberry, especially in the culinary and wine areas, but they are close.

              Looking forward to another Smoky Mountain Table event at Blackberry Farm in July. We just could not make the Taste of the South event in January, and with their snow, are probably glad that we did not - we'd probably still be there... [Grin]

              Now, if Blackberry Farm would just do a culinary event with Chef John Besh, or Chef Frank Brigtsen. I'd fly back from London, or Rome, just to do those. Throw in either Larry Turley, or Garrand Staglin, and I'd charter a flight back, right to TYS (Knoxville).

              Appreciated,

              Hunt

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              Brigtsen's Restaurant
              723 Dante St, New Orleans, LA 70118

              1. re: Bill Hunt
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                Edward Tyson RE: Bill Hunt Feb 25, 2011 08:42 PM

                Hunt,

                I would love a culinary event with Chef John Besh at Blackberry Farm. My wife and I were signed up for a cooking school at Blackberry Farm with Jamie Shannon. When we called a couple weeks in advance to confirm our reservations we learned that Jamie had passed away. We were quite shocked and saddened. I have not been to Blackberry Farm since Fleer left. We use to visit Blackberry Farm every year usually around this time of the year. We did not visit last year and have no plans to go this year but I will return soon.

                ET

                1. re: Edward Tyson
                  Bill Hunt RE: Edward Tyson Feb 26, 2011 05:50 PM

                  There lineup of chefs does change, and some events have been better, than others, though all good - just some great.

                  We were at Commander's Palace, the day after Chef Shannon's death. My wife was so sad on one hand, but glad that she'd gotten a copy of the cookbook, autographed by him on the trip before. Sad time indeed.

                  Chef Linn at Blackberry has been nominated for Best New Chef in North America (or very similar distinction). He's been great in all of our visits.

                  We came to Blackberry Farm at the very end of Chef Fleer's tenure, and enjoyed that visit greatly. I keep hearing that he's doing something in either Maryville, TN, or in NC, but there are never any real details. I'd love to visit whichever of his venues, he goes with.

                  I have mentioned Chef Besh several times, and the "powers that be," seem to listen, but so far, no Chef Besh. If we're in the country, we'd try to drop everything and attend.

                  Hunt

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                  Commander's Palace Restaurant
                  1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130

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