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Toro: making the best of a bad situation

I went with some friends to Toro this past weekend, my first visit. I expected the place to be packed, so we got there plenty early (5:45) only to be told that the earliest they could seat our party of 4 was 9:30pm, maybe 10. I looked at the list; it didn't look that full. The maitre'd told me that a party of 18 was arriving at 7pm and would be taking up most of the restaurant. "I thought you didn't take reservations?" I asked. She looked pained and said "Yeah... it's making things tough." It was obvious that this was screwing up a lot of people's evenings, based on the snarling people leaving Toro. She suggested I wait around a bit to see. About 45 minutes later, she called to let me know that a table would be opening up; 20 minutes later, my friends and I were seated. The huge 18-person party was whooping it up and pouring wine in each other's mouths.

This is all to say that I've rarely seen such a chaotic restaurant situation handled with such grace and professionalism. Kudos to the folks at Toro.

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  1. It's a good problem to have at Toro, and at sister restaurant Coppa: always busy, right from the start of service. But it can't be fun to deal with a steady stream of angry, frustrated people who haven't figured out that there is usually a long wait at these places, and always, always a long wait on weekends. Every time I walk by Toro or Coppa, which is often, I see some party of two or four or six stomping out and cursing. The halo effect for nearby restaurants has to be a substantial part of their businesses.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    Toro
    1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

    Coppa
    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

    14 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      saw on twitter a little bit ago that coppa is taking reservations now.

      1. re: jgg13

        Big news if it's not just for Restaurant Week! I just reached out to Coppa to confirm.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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        Coppa
        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          They didn't mention RW in the tweet, so hopefully not. Getting over to the south end is enough of a production for me that I tend not to bother with a spot with that long of a potential wait, it'd be awesome for someone like myself. Double plus goodness if they were to ever set up opentable.

          1. re: jgg13

            Clio and KO Prime are both on OT, so it's not inconceivable.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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            KO Prime
            90 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108

          2. re: MC Slim JB

            It's not just for RW. It is mentioned on their website as well.

            1. re: Gabatta

              Confirmed by the restaurant. Also, Bissonnette just won the People's Best New Chef award, not just for New England, but the whole country, in Food and Wine. Some nice, overdue recognition there.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        2. re: MC Slim JB

          Agreed. I should clarify that I'm used to waiting for a table at busy little restaurants; I've waited for quite awhile outside Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC more than once. But a 4 to 4.5 hr wait is bonkers. It's disappointing that Toro bends its no-reservations policy for large groups; it was clear that it was screwing up seating for the entire evening. What could've been a high-stress situation was handled professionally, though.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            What I don't get is who exactly is showing up at 4:30 to get a table. No one I know eats that early, unless it's the early bird special. Surely Coppa does not have an early bird special.

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            Coppa
            253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I do it sometimes to avoid the crowds at busy places. If I really want to go somewhere, i'd rather go early and actually be able to go.

              1. re: jgg13

                For this very reason, I've only ever been to Coppa at about 5:30.

              2. re: Bob Dobalina

                No, but it's a pretty pleasant place for a late lunch, with drinks.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  My work day ends at 3 to 3:30 so it's not unusual for me to go out for dinner at 4 or 4:30. One of the best things about eating at this time is that you never feel like you are holding a table up if you want to linger for a bit. In most places service is more relaxed.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    When traveling or on a day off, we eat an early breakfast with the idea that an early dinner is in the works. Less crowded, sometimes more personal service and on occasion, lunch prices. Works for us.

                2. What a bad booking by the powers that be. 18pp at 7pm? Kills your first seating and kills your 3rd of those tables - the large parties are notorious for becoming oblivious to their camping-out, especially on a weekend night. And pouring wine into each others mouth's? A sophisticated bunch as well.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mikeinboston

                    Sounds like a tarp of baby bankers (tarp being the collective noun for such).

                    1. re: mikeinboston

                      The pouring of wine was probably done with porrones which are communal drinking vessels. People have cava from them all the time at Toro.

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                      Toro
                      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                      1. re: ecwashere7

                        Yes, that's what they were using, while filming each other and chanting DRINK DRINK DRINK!

                    2. I've still never eaten at Toro because of this. I'm willing to wait, but I always seem to be with a party of people who want to just take off and find someplace else. Luckily, Estragon makes for quite a serviceable backup, and you are significantly more likely to score a walk-in table or to snag a place in the lounge/bar/

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                      Toro
                      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: tamerlanenj

                        This being my first trip, I'm not sure how typical it is; what kind of wait times do you usually encounter, and when do you usually go? This was a Saturday night; I don't know if weeknights are less bonkers. I'd certainly like to return.

                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          Friday and Saturday are always slammed, as I understand. I'm sure Thursdays are busy too, but 'm betting M-W is much easier.

                          1. re: tamerlanenj

                            I ate at Toro on Saturday night and overheard the hostess tell a patron that they will start taking reservations as well in a couple of weeks.