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Was sooo looking forward to Eleven Madison Park, but...

t
tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 12:38 AM

We had a 9pm reservation and arrived perfectly on time... we waited in the bar for a couple of minutes for our table to be ready, and then we ordered the tasting menu. It was a Thursday night and the dining room was quite full (and loud!), so we didn't think ordering the tasting menu would be a problem, even with a semi-late reservation. The courses were timed well and service was fine, if a bit distant (we felt kind of ignored a little) until we got to the end of the meal. We weren't offered a kitchen tour - and I'd been so looking forward to getting to watch them make us a nitro cocktail - and at the end of the meal, we were never left the complimentary bottle of brandy/port/digestif. We just had the check put in front of us, and as soon as my husband added the tip and signed the check, the waiter swooped it to grab it almost as soon as it hit the table, before we'd even left. It just kind of seemed like he wanted to hurry up and get us out of there. Only after the fact did my husband say that he *should* have said "Oh, wait a sec, we weren't quite done with that" when the waiter went to take the signed check... and then he should have reduced the tip. And finally, as we got up to leave, no one wished us a good night or thanked us for coming, and no one offered to help us get a cab. So yeah. Not such a fan of the service we received, especially after reading all the raves on here for EMP *AND* having read Danny Meyer's book "Setting the Table" about the hospitality his restaurants aim to provide. We dined at Alinea last month, and despite its more modernist, "cold" approach, the service was much warmer.

On the bright side, the food was good to great, and there were maybe one or two truly outstanding dishes. Most of it was not blow-me-away-amazing, though, and unfortunately I didn't leave there on the same kind of "food high" I've gotten from 40 euro dinners in Paris. But still, it was quite good, and I wouldn't have complained about the food. The room was beautiful and had a great energy (if a bit too loud at times). But the service kind of killed it for us. And it was made worse by the fact that we saw other tables around us being offered tours of the kitchen and being given the bottles of digestif. So my question is: Is this normal at EMP - that a kitchen tour and nitro cocktail and digestif isn't something that is proffered? You have to be a regular, or know someone, or just specifically ask? Or is it unusual that we didn't get to experience those things? Regardless, if it turns out that most diners don't get the special treatment, I still think it was rude for the server to take our check before we'd left. We spent $800 on dinner for 2, and you hate to leave the restaurant feeling a little deflated.

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Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

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  1. g
    gutsofsteel RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 03:07 AM

    Not everyone gets a kitchen tour. It would be impossible to give every single table a kitchen tour and a special in-kitchen cocktail.

    I think it's quite normal for a server to take a check before you leave....otherwise how do they check to see if you've signed it and all is in order, before you leave?

    3 Replies
    1. re: gutsofsteel
      n
      nmprisons RE: gutsofsteel Jun 3, 2011 03:38 AM

      I know people are going to come down on OP for knocking EMP (though I have enjoyed my meals there, and one was spectacular, they have been uneven), but there is a big, big difference between letting a check sit for a while on the table/asking if it can be taken and what the OP described, which was basically taking the check as it was being signed as if you were at a Denny's.

      Danny would be pissed if he knew OP's story and that is how you know OP wasn't treated right.

      1. re: nmprisons
        t
        tara3056 RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 12:25 PM

        Thank you nmprisons! gutsofsteel, i have eaten in many, many restaurants, and it almost never happens that a server takes the check before we leave or at least before we've gotten up and are walking to the door. If someone cared so much about whether it was signed, then they could have just watched my husband sign it (which I think this server did; otherwise how did he swoop in so fast?)... and our credit card had already been processed so they knew it was good. Only the tip remained and we tipped 20+% on the entire check... food, alcohol, and tax. But when a waiter grabs the check while you're still sitting there, it makes you feel awkward anyhow.

      2. re: gutsofsteel
        Bob Martinez RE: gutsofsteel Jun 4, 2011 01:40 PM

        Exactly.

      3. thew RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 05:02 AM

        very few places offer to get one a cab in NYC. and really - reduce the tip because the waiter was eager to end his shift and go home? that seems a bit extreme to me.

        2 Replies
        1. re: thew
          ttoommyy RE: thew Jun 7, 2011 12:01 PM

          "and really - reduce the tip because the waiter was eager to end his shift and go home? that seems a bit extreme to me."

          I beg to differ. Part of the waiter's job responsibility is to make the customer feel welcome and be of service. Using body language or actions that make a customer feel the opposite is indeed grounds for a reduced tip. If you are scheduled to work a certain shift, you take all the responsibility that goes with that shift and you suck it up. Even if it means staying late. It's called being a professional.

          1. re: ttoommyy
            thew RE: ttoommyy Jun 7, 2011 12:27 PM

            i agree the waiter should have been more aware. however i do not agree his tip should have been docked for "grab[ing] it almost as soon as it hit the table, before we'd even left."

            i'd say at least 95% of the time a waiter will take the check before the customer leaves. this covers his ass from having to pay for a meal they didn't sign for, to check that they didn't forget to tip, and if they did tip poorly to ask them what he did wrong to deserve being shorted.

        2. ellenost RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 05:42 AM

          To respond to your perceived three service flaws:

          1) nothing wrong with the server picking up your check after it's been signed. I hate leaving a signed credit card receipt on a table unattended for security reasons. It's for your protection that it was taken and not left.

          2) you sound like an "out of towner" since here in NYC, no restaurant calls for a taxi. There is no taxi service from which you can order a taxi-personally, I wish there was-especially on a rainy night.

          3) I dine a few times a year at EMP, and have only been offered a kitchen tour once more than a year and a half ago. On my most recent visit (last week) I didn't notice any of the tables near me being given a kitchen tour either. I think it may be due to how busy the kitchen is. BTW, it took until my fifth visit to Per Se until I received the kitchen tour.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ellenost
            n
            nmprisons RE: ellenost Jun 3, 2011 06:05 AM

            1) It is like a thieves den in the dining room at EMP after 11:00, I guess. I certainly would have found it rude for the server to rush to take my credit card slip as soon as possible. That combined with the other end-of-meal error(s) would make me feel unwelcome and rushed out the door. Remember, OP watched others get more gracious treatment and then felt like she got the bums rush. It wasn't just the credit card thing, but the whole way the meal ended.

            2) OP said "no one offered to help us get a cab," not "no one offered to call us a cab." A number of places in New York assist with cabs (last night, for example, I walked by Del Posto after having dinner at C & Sons and watched numerous diners being escorted into cabs as I read their menu displays), though you are correct on the calling. It is not customary to be asked as you leave if you need assistance with a cab, that much is certainly true, but when you are near the last one to leave a place, it is something that is done. I am not saying it was a slight for them to fail to do this in this instance, but at least read OP's post before disparaging them as an "out of towner" who mis-perceived the level of service us New Yorkers are accustomed to getting.

            3) I have never been offered a kitchen tour at EMP, though I don't particularly like them, and rarely accept when offered (unless one of my friends is in the kitchen and I want to say hi). That said, with everyone gushing on these forums about spending time in the kitchen at EMP, it was certainly reasonable for OP to believe that was part of the tasting menu. It isn't. Not a slight, just a fact.

            -----
            Del Posto
            85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

            1. re: nmprisons
              k
              kathryn RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 06:29 AM

              1. It's also possible from their expressions/body language, the server read/misread cues that they wanted to leave quickly.

              2. From a posting last year it appears the OP lives in Des Moines, Iowa%3

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/699204

              nd yes, ellenost is correct: there is no central dispatch service for yellow taxi cabs in NYC, unlike other major cities. There is central dispatch for livery cabs (town cars) but they also aren't allowed to catch street hails. Only yellow cabs can pick up street fares.

              I actually can't remember ever being offered assistance from a restaurant to hail a cab here in NYC.

              3. FWIW, I've also never gotten a kitchen tour. Nor have I been given a special post-dinner drink at EMP.

            2. re: ellenost
              kelea RE: ellenost Jun 3, 2011 06:34 AM

              @ellenost Five visits to Per Se!!!!! I'm so jealous. I had to save up my bonus just to go once :) I was lucky that on my only trip they graciously accepted my request to have the kitchen tour as a going away gift to myself :)

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: kelea
                ellenost RE: kelea Jun 3, 2011 06:41 AM

                Don't be jealous: it was 5 visits over 7 years. Last visit was almost 2 years ago for my mother's 85th birthday.

                1. re: kelea
                  p
                  peter j RE: kelea Jun 3, 2011 07:07 AM

                  For what it's worth, I was offered a kitchen tour on my first visit to Per Se, but never at EMP.

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                  Per Se
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              2. h
                howo5 RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 06:36 AM

                To the original poster's defense, I've had less than stellar service at EMP also. I found that they ignored us for the most part throughout our meal and then took forever to bring us a check. It almost felt like we were wasting their time dining there. While I have been there when the service is quite good, it isn't always the case. I think this board has a lot of regulars that get over the top service, so it can appear that this becomes the case for anyone that walks through the doors.

                2 Replies
                1. re: howo5
                  kelea RE: howo5 Jun 3, 2011 06:51 AM

                  I hate that i'm going to be sound like a bandwagon fan but I'm not a regular by any means. My visit to EMP (just last week) was my first and only to ANY of Danny Meyer's establishments. The service I received was stellar - attentive, friendly and not intrusive. Warm, pleasant and smiling at all times. I would consider i was the youngest in the resto that night (in my late 20s but look younger) made no difference to the staff (I'm only saying this, cause I know a few posts on diff top restos have indicated that younger guests gets the short end of the stick)

                  I didn't get the tour which I wasn't expecting but I did receive the digestif (which I sadly could not appreciate). The only 'downside' to my meal is that because the initial payment discussion was overhead by the waiter that my friend wanted to treat me, the waiter took both our cards, and only billed my friend. Not really a true downside i guess...

                  1. re: howo5
                    jon RE: howo5 Jun 3, 2011 11:15 AM

                    i also had less than steller service there, mostly it fell apart at the end when there was no offer of coffee or after dinner drinks (although they did leave the bottle of pear brandy), and it talked forever for someone to give us our check. oh and the sommerlier never came over even though we requested one a few times.

                  2. Monica RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 06:42 AM

                    What's so great about touring the kitchen??

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Monica
                      n
                      nmprisons RE: Monica Jun 3, 2011 07:10 AM

                      I agree. My girlfriend works in one and she told me recently that it was a distraction to have people come through during service. I asked her if that included me. She sad yes.

                      1. re: nmprisons
                        ellenost RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 07:12 AM

                        To be honest, I'd rather the kitchen staff concentrate on preparing wonderful food, and not concentrate on "entertaining" me.

                        1. re: ellenost
                          n
                          nmprisons RE: ellenost Jun 3, 2011 07:22 AM

                          Me too.

                          1. re: nmprisons
                            Monica RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 07:51 AM

                            I guess everybody wants to be treated special(which isn't such a bad thing btw). I am sure if bathroom tour was given at a high end restaurant, people will look forward to that too.

                            1. re: Monica
                              f
                              fooder RE: Monica Jun 3, 2011 07:55 AM

                              I personally like seeing the space and getting an idea of the operation, and sometimes discussing food with the chef. For EMP specifically, while I haven't had a tour personally, CHers report back that they sometimes get an extra preview of a predessert as part of the tour. I think that is the main answer to your question regarding what's so great about touring the kitchen.

                              1. re: fooder
                                Monica RE: fooder Jun 3, 2011 08:05 AM

                                Maybe you are the special case who really appreciates the tour but for most people, I don't think kitchen tour has any impact on their culinary adventure.

                                1. re: Monica
                                  kelea RE: Monica Jun 3, 2011 08:23 AM

                                  For me, Thomas Keller has been my idol for 10 years. I love his philosophy towards food and ingredients. And cause of that, I wanted to see what he envisioned in the space that inspires him to create the dishes he does. Seeing the kitchen at Per Se made me respect and love him that much more.

                                  That being said, Per Se and French Laundry would be the only kitchens I would ever really want to tour of.

                                  -----
                                  Per Se
                                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                  1. re: kelea
                                    r
                                    RCC RE: kelea Jun 3, 2011 12:14 PM

                                    I'm more after the quality of the food, but if offered kitchen tours, I'll take it and consider as part of the restaurant's pride and commitment on the quality of their products. Besides, it is educational for me too.

                                    We were offered and a took tour of French Laundry and were plesantly impressed when amidst paperwork, Keller himself came out of his corner desk, introduced himself, shook hands with each one of us and politely asked us about our dining experience or if we have any questions.

                    2. c
                      City Kid RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 07:24 AM

                      I certainly understand that after spending $800 you would not want to feel that you were slighted in any way. I have a pet peeve about a check being put down on the table before I ask for it, but taking it away efficiently after it has been paid should not be considered rude. I have been eating out for many years, at some nice places, in NYC and no one has ever offered to get me a cab. It's not done here so no need to be offended about that.

                      1. f
                        fooder RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 07:26 AM

                        The digestif/kitchen tour is not something that is normally part of the meal. The digestif used to be a part of the old gourmand menu, but has not been since the renovation. The last two dinners I've had at EMP I did not get either digestif or tour.

                        The service is very read-based, as suggested by Kathryn. Last night I was at Daniel (review coming soon) and got a kitchen tour, but doubt that we would've gotten one had I not engaged our server as I did. As Monica points out, touring the kitchen is not necessarily everyone's thing, and it'll become awkward if the staff offer a tour of the kitchen and the customer is just not interested.

                        I think they can call you a livery service if you request it, but it's not normal in NYC to offer to hail a cab for you. After all, it's not a hotel, and they have no idea if you might just be living down the street. There are so many cabs in NYC that I don't think anyone really thinks one would need assistance hailing one.

                        In regard to noone saying goodnight, did they not say goodnight to you while looking at you/getting your coats, or was there just noone at reception? Considering the time you started, I imagine it was well past midnight when you left?

                        The server's handling of the check/cc receipt does sound a little rude. The disappointment could just be a mix of a long busy night with the OP's high expectations. Although from experience, I do find that individual servers at EMP can be hit or miss on occasion whereas everyone at a captain or higher level tends to be spot on.

                        FWIW, I've had kitchen tours on my first visits of WD50, Per Se, Esca, among others. And the kitchen tour of Daniel on my second visit last night. Part of that could be my taking of pictures and queries about specific components of dishes. I'm sometimes asked if I work in the industry. I feel that with these things, you sometimes have to nudge the service and engage them. If they just randomly went up to customers and said, "How would you like a tour of the kitchen?" it would easily come off as pretentious and intrusive.

                        Going to EMP next week. Sorry that OP did not have a good experience, but I'm willing to write it off as an off night.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: fooder
                          ellenost RE: fooder Jun 3, 2011 07:36 AM

                          Funny thing is that when I had dinner at Guy Savoy in LV in early April, I was invited by my captain for a kitchen tour. To be honest, it was one of the most awkward things since I was not loving my meal (the service, however, was wonderful). It was almost embarrassing when I had to pretend to the chef that I was loving his food (when I wasn't).

                          1. re: fooder
                            t
                            tlubow RE: fooder Jun 3, 2011 11:28 AM

                            When we were fortunate enough to dine at EMP in January, we asked for a kitchen tour and were graciously offered one after asking. I also agree that offering a kitchen tour to someone who doesn't necessarily want one would be awkward. We were not given a digestif, but the service was spectacular and one of the most enjoyable dining experiences we've had.

                            1. re: fooder
                              u
                              uwsister RE: fooder Jun 6, 2011 11:12 PM

                              We've never ordered the Gourmand menu, and we've received the cognac bottle time to time - so I don't think the two are necessarily related. I don't know why it happened when it did - being a non-drinker, I couldn't appreciate it anyway.

                            2. a
                              ANin RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 08:32 AM

                              Oh no! This is making me a little nervous...

                              I recently made reservations at EMP for my boyfriend's birthday dinner based largely on its reputation on this board. We've talked about going for a long time and I know he'll be excited to be there. The thing is that the dinner will definitely be a small fortune for us, and while I have the money saved and am more than ready to spend it on the dinner I would be really disappointed if I end up feeling like we've been obviously ignored on his birthday in favor of regulars.

                              Part of the reason I was excited about EMP is that up until this post I had gotten the impression that they were a restaurant where that was specifically against their ethos - where everyone would ideally come away from the experience feeling they'd been treated with special attention. I'm certainly not expecting some of the *extras* mentioned here - the tour, digestif, etc. But I agree with some others that I do feel there's a difference between those things coming out for a couple of special diners very occasionally as a treat of the restaurant and those things coming out for say half the tables while the other half sits there and wonders why they don't get them...

                              I would appreciate it if anyone else was willing to chime in on the question of regular service at EMP vs. what it seems may be the special treatment that many members of the chowhound community are reporting - which may be a result of their status as regulars? The reservation is already made - but at the very least I could still nix the idea of doing a tasting menu for his birthday and instead have a shorter more casual, less expensive dinner there and then plan something different that will make him feel special with the cash saved - a fancy bar after or something...

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: ANin
                                kelea RE: ANin Jun 3, 2011 08:35 AM

                                ANin, if you read my post above you will see that one off experience is not the reason to change your plans. I went there as a first timer and had a delightful and delicious experience. No bias or preference to those around me who might be regulars. To ensure a little omph to your dinner, I would call the restaurant and have the hostess note that you are celebrating your BF's birthday.

                                1. re: kelea
                                  ellenost RE: kelea Jun 3, 2011 08:42 AM

                                  I agree with kelea. EMP is one of the few restaurants whose mission is to ensure that all of its guests are treated to a special experience. They have so many "regulars" due to the fact that when the regulars were "first-timers" , they all received very attentive service and delicious food. I wouldn't worry too much about receiving/not receiving a kitchen tour or the bottle of cognac at the end of the meal. I am very confident that you and your bf will have a wonderful time. Enjoy!

                                  1. re: kelea
                                    a
                                    ANin RE: kelea Jun 3, 2011 08:47 AM

                                    Thanks for your quick response! (And I share your feelings about Keller completely)

                                    I actually did see your post on your recent experience, and it was heartening - particularly your note that you are younger as that's often my concern when we go to more expensive restaurants as well.

                                    I'm definitely not considering canceling our reservation - I've been looking forward to it for a while and I know that he really wants to go. It's more a matter of whether I'd be better off changing my plan to something more in our regular price range (ie the 4 course menu and a bottle of wine instead of a tasting menu + wine pairing type blow out) and then doing something else special afterwards.

                                    It sounds like you had a great experience, though - in a situation fairly similar to what ours will be - so that definitely makes me feel better about sticking with the original plan!

                                  2. re: ANin
                                    n
                                    nmprisons RE: ANin Jun 3, 2011 09:36 AM

                                    You are much more likely to be treated fabulously than you are to be treated only ok at EMP. There can be no debate about that. Indeed, other than Per Se, that is the place you can be most confident about great treatment. Every restaurant of every quality has off nights and off tables (because every server and every cook and every person has off days and off moments). Changing your reservation based on this thread would be a mistake. Even my uneven meals there have been very good by any reasonable standard.

                                    -----
                                    Per Se
                                    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                    1. re: nmprisons
                                      thew RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 10:04 AM

                                      but the OP's experience does not sound like an off-night. to me it sounds like the OP's expectations, not the service, was what was off kilter.

                                      what were the complaints? that a server took the payment before they left the place? standard operating procedure in just about every place. That no one helped them get a cab? again S.O.P. That they didn't get free perks? one cannot assume one will, it's at the discretion of the place. That no one said goodnight? boo-fuckin-hoo.

                                      they had "good to great" food, with " one or two truly outstanding dishes." Went on to say "The courses were timed well and service was fine..." other than not getting freebies and a tour, despite the place being "quite full."

                                      so for this well timed meal, with fine service, and good to outstanding food, they contemplated docking the tip because the check was picked up quickly, and they complain because no one said goodbye.

                                      really?

                                      1. re: nmprisons
                                        f
                                        fm1963 RE: nmprisons Jun 3, 2011 10:32 AM

                                        "You are much more likely to be treated fabulously than you are to be treated only ok at EMP. There can be no debate about that. Indeed, other than Per Se, that is the place you can be most confident about great treatment."

                                        That seems to be the party line, but experiences can vary widely. I also experienced detached and impersonal service from EMP earlier this year. I'm not surprised about the OP's review.

                                        -----
                                        Per Se
                                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                      2. re: ANin
                                        g
                                        gutsofsteel RE: ANin Jun 3, 2011 11:12 AM

                                        I have never had less than delightful service at EMP. Please don't base your decision based on this one person's single experience.

                                      3. Monica RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 11:20 AM

                                        I don't know about the kitchen tour or the taxi but everyone should leave a restaurant with a happy smile on their face. Sorry to hear Tara and her husband didn't, especially from a restaurant like EMP.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Monica
                                          ellenost RE: Monica Jun 3, 2011 12:09 PM

                                          I think Tara and her husband would have enjoyed themselves more if they had not had unrealistic expectations. Sounds like they would have been disappointed at most of NYC's best restaurants (probably they would have been disappointed at Per Se since Per Se normally doesn't offer a kitchen tour or call for a taxi. Also Per Se provides the check before requested--something Chef Keller wants his staff to do so his guests don't have to worry about asking for it--doesn't bother me).

                                          1. re: ellenost
                                            n
                                            nmprisons RE: ellenost Jun 3, 2011 12:23 PM

                                            The OP is no shrinking violet for whom this was the first meal at a fancy place. No one said good night to her. There was awkwardness around the end of the meal. While she enjoyed the food, she has had better for considerably less money. These are all valid complaints. I am not saying I share them, just that they are reasonable reasons to be slightly disappointed at the end of a meal. (Hell my pork was a bit dry last night and Tom C. looked past me like I wasn't even there on more than one occasion without so much as a "hey, you enjoying the food?" Can't I be disappointed with that, or must I say only the positive things? Or can you say negative things about some places, but not others?)

                                            s I said in my first post, those in charge of service at EMP would be disappointed to learn that the restaurant did not live up to OP's standards that evening and would want to rectify that portion of the experience within their control. That is what makes it a wonderful restaurant, and why I continue to go there. It is not, however, infallible.

                                            (I must say that Roz has shown incredible and truly admirable restraint not weighing in to this thread and it brings all the more credibility to her other posts.)

                                            1. re: nmprisons
                                              The Chowhound Team RE: nmprisons Jun 5, 2011 05:11 AM

                                              We have moved a discussion of posting by "friends of the house" to our SIte Talk board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/788450

                                        2. t
                                          tara3056 RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 12:49 PM

                                          Ok, I'm sorry, people. At some of the other high-end restaurants we've been to (including Alinea), they offered assistance getting a cab. But Chicago is not the walking city that NYC is, and they have less cabs, so I totally understand that restaurants in NYC don't do that. So, I apologize on that one.

                                          I think our expectations were simply too high. I have read "Setting the Table" by Danny Meyer, and I think I must have been expecting not-just-good service, but extraordinary service. To be there and have the service disappoint us at the end of the meal was, well, disappointing when you know so much about Meyer's ethos and when you'd specifically chosen EMP because you knew it had not only allegedly wonderful food, but also wonderful service. We could only pick one fine dining place on this trip. We had our infant with us, and my Mom volunteered to keep him that night so we could go out. (The rest of the time was spent doing things related to my brother's wedding in Central Park.) So although I would have loved to try Per Se or Del Posto or Momofuku Ko - assuming I could get a reservation - or Le Bernadin, we chose EMP because, in a city where lots of restaurants all offer great food, the service can set one of them apart. I've heard Le Bernadin's can be chilly and snooty... a point against it that put it lower down my list.

                                          Anyway, it is a relief for me to know that it's not standard procedure for them to offer the kitchen tour, extra treats, or the digestif. I suppose my expectations were that it *was* standard, because in almost every single blog post I've ever read about EMP, the writer was offered those things. If it seems like every review of a place you ever read mentions that something happened, you kind of think that same thing will happen for you. And several other tables did get the digestif - I know this for a fact - and the table right next to us was offered the kitchen tour.

                                          So, I apologize on those two things as well (the kitchen tour and digestif). What I will NOT apologize over is that I still think it is unaccountably rude to grab the signed check almost as soon as it hit the table. You can say it's for security reasons or whatever, but we didn't like it, and while another poster pointed out, yes, we may be from Des Moines, Iowa, but we have spent more than 4 months in Europe over the last 5 years, and have dined in many "big cities" in the US... Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, etc etc. So it's not like I'm a country girl who doesn't know up from down in nice restaurants. And in NONE of the places I've mentioned was the check ever grabbed as soon as my husband had added the tip and signed it. So I guess NYC must have a helluva crime problem if that's the excuse for it.

                                          I also won't apologize on thinking it would have been nice to have been told 'good night' or 'thanks for coming.' Yes, it was late, but there were servers still around, still in the area close to us and to the front door. That's a completely minor quibble though. The bigger problem was my apparently too-high expectations. And yes, the food was good to great. But at 195 pp you expect it to be. Ideally it would blow you away and go down on your list of "memorable meals I've had in my life." EMP doesn't. I had to look at my hubby's pics to remember some of the dishes, and I have had better food for substantially less money, many times. But you'll note that I realy wasn't complaining about the food in my original post. I guess if the food is something slightly shy of excellent, then I always hope something, like the service, makes up for it.

                                          -----
                                          Per Se
                                          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                          Del Posto
                                          85 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

                                          Momofuku Ko
                                          163 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: tara3056
                                            loratliff RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 12:54 PM

                                            Tara, I definitely wouldn't defend them grabbing the signed check almost immediately and creating an uncomfortable situation. It's never pleasant to have a server hovering over you like a vulture while you sign the slip.

                                            However, I do know for a fact that a few "big" restaurants here in the city have a policy that their servers are to pick up the signed slip prior to the diners leaving the table—this is to ensure that they signed the proper slip. If the customer accidentally leaves an unsigned slip or takes the restaurant's slip, their card can't be charged. That's the just how it works, and when you're dealing with an $800+/- tab, you don't want to run that risk as a server.

                                            1. re: loratliff
                                              r
                                              RCC RE: loratliff Jun 3, 2011 01:12 PM

                                              "the customer accidentally leaves an unsigned slip or takes the restaurant's slip, their card can't be charged."

                                              Really? Signature is required? I think it is not required for a restaurant to be able to charge once you have received service and handed them your card.

                                              1. re: RCC
                                                loratliff RE: RCC Jun 3, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                Of course signature is required. What happens if someone goes home and wants to dispute the charge with the CC company?

                                                The first swipe is just a preauthorization—the server still has to go back into the system and input the tip, which is what actually charges the card.

                                              2. re: loratliff
                                                ellenost RE: loratliff Jun 3, 2011 01:17 PM

                                                Also it's a great idea for the server to collect the signed credit card receipt to ensure that the customer has not accidentally left his/her credit card--it's happened twice to my sister where she's had to go back to a restuarant (not EMP) to retrieve her credit card.

                                              3. re: tara3056
                                                s
                                                sugartoof RE: tara3056 Jun 4, 2011 03:23 PM

                                                You fell victim to something which occurs often even for New Yorkers - you read reviews gushing about a specific experience of "extras" that were implied to be standard, and of course you were letdown when you didn't share in that experience. I've definitely felt your neuroses and frustration that you were missing out on something, while watching other tables get that something extra. The worst is when you're a frequent visitor, and they don't provide you service you have come to expect, or just that free dish of pralines with your meal. So, it happens, and it's probably worse in the age of Chowhound and blogs where you can get excited about those special treats places are doing as a matter of finesse.

                                                The truth is, much of the gushing in reviews you read is hype. There isn't anything terribly remarkable about the attentive service of a 3 or 4 star restaurants in New York. If the timing is right, or you look as if you need assistance, then sure, maybe someone will hail you a cab. If you're engaging the staff, showing a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm, and a frequent visitor, then sure they're going to have fun with that, and treat you nicely. There are patrons who are weekly visitors. There are patrons who will have spent tens of thousands on lunches and dinners there. Some might even be investors. If you're seated next to someone who is industry, you will watch them get an entirely different show off experience. New York is going through a phase where a lot of us think "getting hooked up" or getting special treatment equates to some status. That's going to filter into reviews. For a short time, it was the talk of off menu dishes.

                                                My criticism of Danny Meyer establishments is that they are not consistent, and do go through rough patches. I've had some of the best service, and worst service at his places. The best staff at 11 Madison Park and Gramercy Tavern have gone on to open their own places (Perilla is one example), or move into the corporate end, and there's a small shake up when they do. When you're talking about owners who have a dozen establishments, and various projects, the staff are working for a corporation.

                                                I don't know if EMP pools their tips, but most New York places do. Meaning, your tip to that individual waiter goes into a big pot, they all take a cut from. By the end of the night, they pretty much know how they did, and they're anticipating a certain amount of paperwork before the payout, and they can go home. In some cases, that might be when they get their "company meal", and comped a drink. It's not uncommon for service to get rushed by over attentive waiters who rudely hover over that bill. You got a waiter who wasn't trained properly. Chances are they got chastised for it by now, and were punished by losing a shift or two...but who knows. At some restaurants they might chastise waiters for not brushing crumbs and disturbing conversations, or say, snatching the check before you leave.

                                                Either way, you went in with a set of expectations and felt you left with lesser service than what you read about. Best to take internet reviews with a grain of salt.

                                                -----
                                                Gramercy Tavern
                                                42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

                                                1. re: sugartoof
                                                  g
                                                  gutsofsteel RE: sugartoof Jun 4, 2011 03:27 PM

                                                  I agree completely. Many CH reviews (and other internet "reviews" scream out "see, I'm so special!" when in fact, really, it's a lot of exaggeration.

                                                  1. re: gutsofsteel
                                                    s
                                                    sugartoof RE: gutsofsteel Jun 4, 2011 03:39 PM

                                                    Yup.

                                                    I mean, I love reading about special occasions where the staff just throw down... (The high school kid who saved up loose change for a solo birthday lunch at Per Se comes to mind)...

                                                    ...but special treatment shouldn't be part of a review, even an amateur one, and if a place builds a rep for doing certain things, they have to realize customers grow to expect it.

                                                    -----
                                                    Per Se
                                                    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                                                  2. re: sugartoof
                                                    penthouse pup RE: sugartoof Jun 5, 2011 03:34 PM

                                                    Really well stated...and in an period where $800 dinners for two are not out of the ordinary for a certain culinary class, then expectations will naturally be congruent with the level of cost...

                                                2. t
                                                  tara3056 RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 01:03 PM

                                                  Oh and if you read my OP, I was clearly asking other people to chime in and tell me what was normal and what wasn't. And you all did. I don't think I said anything particularly negative about EMP.. even my "complaints" weren't all that bad, but now I'm feeling like I wish I could delete the whole thread (not that I can... right?) because I *wouldn't* want EMP's management to read this, since it turns out that we felt slighted for no real reason, beyond the grabbing of the check and so forth. So yeah. We *felt* slighted, but it's a relief to see that we weren't actually slighted in re: the kitchen tour and digestif bottle left on the table at the end.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: tara3056
                                                    n
                                                    nmprisons RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 01:10 PM

                                                    And with that, I am left holding the bag. Oh well.

                                                    1. re: tara3056
                                                      Miss Needle RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 01:34 PM

                                                      I think EMP is very good about keeping on top of tweets and reviews. So, sorry, they've probably seen this already and will probably use this as a learning tool. So don't feel bad about your post.

                                                      I've been there several times over the years but not frequently enough for them to recognize me (at least I think they don't). Sometimes the reservations have been under my name and sometimes under other people's names. In my experience, I have noticed that when I'm with somebody who they may perceive to be a blogger (cameras, notes, many questions about the food), the service seemed to be a bit more on. So this may explain why you've read all these blog posts where freebies/tours seemed like the norm.

                                                      Sorry to hear that your experience was less than ideal, but I was glad to hear it anyway. It's good to hear more opposing views of board favorites for balance.

                                                      1. re: Miss Needle
                                                        r
                                                        RCC RE: Miss Needle Jun 3, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                        "In my experience, I have noticed that when I'm with somebody who they may perceive to be a blogger (cameras, notes, many questions about the food), the service seemed to be a bit more on."

                                                        This is not a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

                                                        1. re: RCC
                                                          Miss Needle RE: RCC Jun 3, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                          I agree; it isn't. So that's why I hope EMP sees this.

                                                          Just want to clarify that I've never gotten bad service from there. It has always been good. But it's sometimes better.

                                                        2. re: Miss Needle
                                                          t
                                                          tara3056 RE: Miss Needle Jun 3, 2011 01:41 PM

                                                          We were taking pics of each course with my husband''s dslr camera, but not taking notes or asking lots of questions or anything like that.

                                                          1. re: tara3056
                                                            r
                                                            RCC RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 01:46 PM

                                                            In your defense, the question is why should there be differential in service if you were a food blogger, reviewer, critic, Chowhound poster or simply Joe Public?

                                                            1. re: RCC
                                                              loratliff RE: RCC Jun 3, 2011 02:11 PM

                                                              Exactly. There shouldn't be a difference. I have noticed veritable changes in service when I have my professional DSLR camera versus when I don't. Quite frankly, it can be uncomfortable and a turn-off.

                                                          2. re: Miss Needle
                                                            r
                                                            Riverman500 RE: Miss Needle Jun 3, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                            For the best service, tweet about EMP before you show up for your reservation.
                                                            http://ny.eater.com/archives/2010/10/...

                                                            1. re: Riverman500
                                                              Miss Needle RE: Riverman500 Jun 3, 2011 04:30 PM

                                                              Yes, I remember that one. Hysterical!

                                                              And seems like eater picked this one up as well.

                                                              http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/06/...

                                                        3. Monica RE: tara3056 Jun 3, 2011 01:09 PM

                                                          At this point, I'd like to say the following;
                                                          To EMP, treat everyone equally. Either you give kitchen tour and free drinks to everyone or you don't.
                                                          PS You can still give a kitchen tour if asked for. =)

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Monica
                                                            g
                                                            gutsofsteel RE: Monica Jun 3, 2011 02:27 PM

                                                            That's really ridiculous. They can't possibly give every diner a view of the kitchen (and that's what it is, it's not a "tour" of the kitchen). It is FINE for a restaurant to treat regulars a bit special. It's called good business.

                                                          2. t
                                                            thelobster RE: tara3056 Jun 4, 2011 07:42 AM

                                                            Fascinating thread!!! I can easily understand the OP's position regarding how she felt at the conclusion of the meal, but am I the only one who believes that if she and her husband desired (and were expecting) a tour, digestif and/or a taxi, they should have asked? I know it would have been nice to receive the invitations for all of the above, but....sometimes we have to make our expectations known in order to have them met (a lesson many people learn through decades of marraige,etc).

                                                            1. hcbk0702 RE: tara3056 Jun 4, 2011 02:12 PM

                                                              I think this is mostly a case of unrealistic expectations.

                                                              I'd be more interested in hearing how the food fell short.

                                                              32 Replies
                                                              1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                Chris VR RE: hcbk0702 Jun 4, 2011 02:28 PM

                                                                When a diner peruses forums such as Chowhounds and sees certain things mentioned, how is that diner using these forums for research supposed to know NOT to expect such things?! Especially when that diner sees other diners around them receiving these things? Sure, every diner can't have a kitchen tour... I'm sure there's also a reason not every diner ordering the tasting menu is offered a digestif. However, it's not unrealistic or inappropriate for a diner who has read about such things, and sees such things being offered to diners around them to be disappointed when no such things are offered.

                                                                This is the flip side of restaurants offering specials and freebies. They can't be special if they offer it to everyone, but while the people who get them feel really special, the people who don't get them (and who notice they aren't getting them) feel really lousy. I'm sure that's not anyone's intent, but it is a side effect of the fact that information that used to be more confined to the customer and the restaurant is now disseminated widely via food forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

                                                                I think tara3056 is perfectly justified in feeling the way she is, while at the same time recognizing that I truly believe it wasn't anyone's intent to make her feel that way. EMP was on my list of places to try for an upcoming trip, and I'm disappointed to learn that even at a place which is hailed for its exemplary service, a "nobody" like me might end up feeling the same way tara3056 does.

                                                                1. re: hcbk0702
                                                                  d
                                                                  Daniel76 RE: hcbk0702 Jun 6, 2011 06:52 AM

                                                                  so basically, after reading through the wordy write up of the place, the person is upset because the check was picked up too quickly..

                                                                  1. re: Daniel76
                                                                    Chris VR RE: Daniel76 Jun 6, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                                    Not sure you read all the words in that write up. The issue the poster raised (which I also raise above) of how diners are aware of and upset by different levels of service, seems to be a pretty valid point for dissatisfaction.

                                                                    1. re: Chris VR
                                                                      d
                                                                      Daniel76 RE: Chris VR Jun 6, 2011 07:52 AM

                                                                      Yeh, well, the diners should have opened their mouths... For example, my wife and I are excited to get a kitchen tour, do you think it's possible.. We also heard you give a way free stuff some times, we would like free stuff too..

                                                                      I just think, they were expecting to make life long pen pals with their waiter, asked to be taken into the back and hoisted on to the kitchen staffs shoulders..

                                                                      It didnt happen..

                                                                      For people that don't want to make friends with the wait staff and are there to enjoy a good dinner and the company they came with, this is not a problem..

                                                                      1. re: Daniel76
                                                                        Monica RE: Daniel76 Jun 6, 2011 07:55 AM

                                                                        asking for a tour and some free stuff, nay, i wouldn't do that.

                                                                        1. re: Monica
                                                                          d
                                                                          Daniel76 RE: Monica Jun 6, 2011 07:57 AM

                                                                          right but, if it was that important to the original poster, there are ways to ask for something tastefully.

                                                                        2. re: Daniel76
                                                                          s
                                                                          sugartoof RE: Daniel76 Jun 6, 2011 12:20 PM

                                                                          Nobody should pay $800 and have to ask for something they see arriving with the tasting service at other tables, and nobody should have the anxiety of worrying they're not getting the full show.

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                                                            a
                                                                            ANin RE: sugartoof Jun 6, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                                            I really do agree with this, and it's the root of the anxiety I mentioned above regarding the birthday dinner I was planning. In some ways I wonder if this is, above all, an economic/class issue. $800 is a huge deal for me - I've saved that money over a long period of time for a special occasion, and hearing that the experience may end up being different than what I believed it would be when I made the reservation is making me a bit sad.

                                                                            But if $800 isn't a stretch for your wallet, then I guess it's much easier to view EMP as just another restaurant, and expect service/your experience to be no better or worse than any other nice restaurant.

                                                                            I guess I initially thought that part of what you pay for when you pay nearly a grand for dinnner is a consistently excellent experience. But from all the posts above it sounds like while there are very positive and somewhat negative experiences... there may not be the consistency of experience that I had believed there would be based on the price point and what I'd read about the restuarant.

                                                                            1. re: ANin
                                                                              s
                                                                              sugartoof RE: ANin Jun 6, 2011 01:48 PM

                                                                              I think the approach is to act like it's a chef's table, and create excitement, but I think it's ultimately a mistake not to provide a consistent tasting menu in the main dining room. I'm sure you don't feel entitled to the extras, you just don't want to risk being letdown if you're excluded from the full fun experience that people have come to expect. If the Jean George marshmallow cart started skipping tables, people would be in an uproar.

                                                                              1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                ellenost RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 08:34 AM

                                                                                I hate the JG marshmallow cart; actually hope they would skip my table.

                                                                                1. re: ellenost
                                                                                  c
                                                                                  City Kid RE: ellenost Jun 7, 2011 08:52 AM

                                                                                  Hahaha...so do I!!! When they offer it to me I decline.

                                                                                2. re: sugartoof
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  Sneakeater RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 02:06 PM

                                                                                  The correct analogue at JG isn't the marshmallow cart. It's having JG's brother come out and do the pineapple thing at your table -- which only a few VIPs and friends of the house get.

                                                                                  It's like reading about that on a foodboard and then getting pissed off because you didn't get it.

                                                                                  1. re: Sneakeater
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    sugartoof RE: Sneakeater Jun 7, 2011 02:33 PM

                                                                                    I've never heard of this pineapple thing until now or read of any Chowhounder anticipating it.

                                                                                    (Google only turned up two mentions, both from the same blogger)

                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                      ellenost RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 02:46 PM

                                                                                      I've read about it--sounds very special to me. The photos were lovely.

                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        Sneakeater RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 03:24 PM

                                                                                        You can read about the JG pineapple thing in the New York Times* -- with no indication that you have to in fact be as special as Amanda Hesser (whose book was famously blurbed by Chef Vongerichten) to get it.

                                                                                        * http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/27/din...

                                                                                  2. re: ANin
                                                                                    b
                                                                                    brooklyndude RE: ANin Jun 10, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                                                    This thread says a lot more about the people posting than the restaurant. I strongly agree with your comments about how people's economic circumstances affect their perceptions. EMP is a pretty reliable restaurant in my experience.

                                                                                    1. re: brooklyndude
                                                                                      r
                                                                                      Riverman500 RE: brooklyndude Jun 10, 2011 08:46 AM

                                                                                      In my experience, the wealthier diners expect and get preferred treatment in high end restaurants. They generally signal their status through their wine choices.

                                                                                      1. re: Riverman500
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        sugartoof RE: Riverman500 Jun 10, 2011 12:33 PM

                                                                                        I think Open Table also notates frequent users.. I can't imagine there's time to bother checking that though.

                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                          kelea RE: sugartoof Jun 10, 2011 12:50 PM

                                                                                          Surprisingly I know this has affected a couple of my meals. Once at Calle Ocho my friend asked the waiter why we were getting such good service (i know weird question but I was not at the table at the time) and the waiter said the manager told him to give our table special attention cause I go there frequently (and always via open table for booking)

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Calle Ocho
                                                                                          45 W 81st St, New York, NY 10024

                                                                                          1. re: kelea
                                                                                            r
                                                                                            Riverman500 RE: kelea Jun 10, 2011 01:17 PM

                                                                                            EMP definitely keeps a record, I assume through opentable reservations. My most recent server knew that I had dined there in the past, even though I'm not a regular and he didn't wait on me during previous visits.

                                                                                  3. re: sugartoof
                                                                                    d
                                                                                    Daniel76 RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 08:26 AM

                                                                                    Ask a head of time.. Say, me and my dining partner would like to have someone from your restaurant to chat with through out the entire dinner.

                                                                                    My dining companion and myself would enjoy further interaction with your staff by going into the kitchen.. From there, we are hoping to get everyone's home address so we can become pen pals, face book friends, and eventually split a time share in the Hamptons..

                                                                                    I'm sure they can have this all arange ahead of time so you don't have to ask at the restaurant..

                                                                                    1. re: Daniel76
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      sugartoof RE: Daniel76 Jun 7, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                                                      I'm glad it provides you satire, Daniel76....but in this case, the patron was not requesting favoritism, they were reacted to being excluded from services offered that night. A reasonable expectation on an $800 bill.

                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                        thew RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 12:00 PM

                                                                                        one does not expect gifts.

                                                                                        1. re: thew
                                                                                          s
                                                                                          sugartoof RE: thew Jun 7, 2011 12:28 PM

                                                                                          if a place is known to give gifts, you just might.

                                                                                          yet, we're not talking gifts.

                                                                                          thomas keller's coffee and doughnuts aren't considered a gift (served selectively), nor are jg marshmallows (standard). it's a service. who wouldn't dislike getting one less amuse bouche or getting skipped over for the palate cleanse sorbet? that's the effect it has when these routinely given "extras" are selectively skipping tables.

                                                                                          anyway, at that price point, they could send you home with an ipod shuffle, and it's safe to say it's not a gift, you paid for it.

                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                            d
                                                                                            Daniel76 RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                                                            you might as well take the silverware and the toilet paper.

                                                                                        2. re: sugartoof
                                                                                          d
                                                                                          Daniel76 RE: sugartoof Jun 7, 2011 12:19 PM

                                                                                          Services offered that night? A tour of the kitchen is considered services offered? They ate dinner at the restaurant.. That pretty much covers my expectations.

                                                                                        3. re: Daniel76
                                                                                          a
                                                                                          ANin RE: Daniel76 Jun 7, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                                                          Daniel76- Clever as your response is, I really don't think it speaks much to the conversation occuring here. It seems to me that no one here is *expecting* any special favors or extras from the restaurant. On the contrary, actually, this conversation has been primarily about the experience of seeing other tables receive extras (and specifically many other tables) and/or reading online about the same. I think the conversation here about value, guest expectation, and consistency is a reasonable and useful one. Particulary since much of what has been written on Chowhound about EMP up until this point has given a slightly (but significantly) different impression of what one should expect from their experience there.

                                                                                          1. re: ANin
                                                                                            d
                                                                                            Daniel76 RE: ANin Jun 7, 2011 12:20 PM

                                                                                            How did the diner see things happening in the kitchen?

                                                                                            1. re: Daniel76
                                                                                              v
                                                                                              villainx RE: Daniel76 Jun 7, 2011 12:49 PM

                                                                                              I think the OP already capitulated and said for the most part he/she/they had higher expectations based on what was read here (and other places). The extras that EMP sometimes offer or offers to select guests are highlighted on these board that it easily can mislead readers to think its routine part of the EMP experience.

                                                                                              Maybe you are critiquing a general diners expectations. Or how he or she should handle things going forward, which I pretty much agree with you. Want something, just ask for it or about it. But I guess some of your comments seem to come close to haranguing the OP. Not wanting to censor you, but if your comments are pointed to the OP, she pretty much resolved it upthread.

                                                                                            2. re: ANin
                                                                                              ellenost RE: ANin Jun 7, 2011 12:29 PM

                                                                                              Have to respond to the point about "many other tables" receiving extras. I believe very few tables each night receive the kitchen tour (otherwise no one would receive any food since the chefs would be too busy entertaining and not cooking). I think the OP's big disappointment comes from reading the reports on this board that gives the incorrect impression that everyone receives the kitchen tour. As we have read on this thread, not all CH posters have received the kitchen tour, and the percentage of total EMP guests that report on CH is probably very small, therefore, only a very small population has received this "perk".

                                                                                              1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                a
                                                                                                ANin RE: ellenost Jun 7, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                                                                ellenost - Point taken, and I believe you're spot on. It seems to be primarily internet reports of previous guests' experiences which are to blame for any off-base expectation here. Of course, it makes sense that those who receieved a truly spectacular experience (or, on the other hand, a really bad experience) would also be the people who are moved to write on the internet about it. That creates a slightly off-balance expectation for those who do their internet research about a place - something that's probably a lot more common for restaurants at a price point like EMP's - people want to see what they're going to be getting for their money! It's probably still a fairly new issue for restaurants to be dealing with, and I'm not sure what sort of solution there might eventually be. I would point out that EMP has proved to be very up on the use of the internet / social networking in their interactions with their guests. Because of that, I would expect that eventually they will try to find some solution for this issue - I doubt it will go away. Actually, I think the issues of internet write ups / critiques / etc are most likely only just beginning.

                                                                                                1. re: ANin
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  Sneakeater RE: ANin Jun 7, 2011 02:10 PM

                                                                                                  And not just that. A lot of people who write on foodboards are people who eat out a lot at expensive restaurants and hence are known to the staffs of expensive restaurants as people who eat out a lot. So they get cultivated. Makes perfect sense. There's nothing nefarious about it. The only problem is when those people write on foodboards about the special perks they sometimes get, and other readers misconstrue the perks as SOP for everybody. But really, they should know better.

                                                                                3. j
                                                                                  jabowkE RE: tara3056 Jun 5, 2011 04:37 PM

                                                                                  its been said a squeaky wheel gets the grease, sounds like you didnt squeak as loudly as many of these "regulars" and "hounders". While it is true that a kitchen tour for everyone isnt possible, many of the "hounders" on this site post on their reservations that they would "like the kitchen tour" (or in the case of le bernardin that they would like "the egg"). I hate that this is done, it removes any mystique or surprise in the meal, however it does ensure they receive this treatment and can write/yelp about it after.

                                                                                  in regards to EMP service errors, here a few things that could have happened%3

                                                                                  *you could have been one of the last tables, and the kitchen was breaking everything down. therefore when you finished your savory courses the kitchen had already begun cleanup and wouldnt want guests to see that(you wouldnt want to see it either).

                                                                                  *if you WERE one of the last tables, unfortunately your captain probably wanted to get on with his/her night and by picking up your check right away he figured maybe you all wouldn't linger. NOTE: I dont agree with this, but it could have been a long/late night and everyone was ready to go.

                                                                                  Service is usually good/great at Eleven Madison, and they may have had an off night (short staffed, difficult tables etc). This is no excuse, but again putting out possibilities.

                                                                                  *Also as many have pointed, assistance hailing a cab is very uncommon in New York City, and EMP shouldnt be faulted for this.

                                                                                  To give some perspective, how many people were left in the dining room when you departed?

                                                                                  -j

                                                                                  1. Monica RE: tara3056 Jun 7, 2011 12:48 PM

                                                                                    I can see EMP having a big staff meeting on this..lol

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Monica
                                                                                      ellenost RE: Monica Jun 7, 2011 12:52 PM

                                                                                      I guarantee they probably already had the staff meeting on 6/3 (the date of the original post).

                                                                                    2. p
                                                                                      peter j RE: tara3056 Jun 7, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                                                      Did you not receive a jar of granola as a parting gift? I thought that was a customary perk.

                                                                                      1. buttertart RE: tara3056 Jun 8, 2011 11:45 AM

                                                                                        We are very fortunate to have have eaten at more top-tier restaurants on three continents than most, and have had excellent experiences in 90% or so of them.
                                                                                        We ate at EMP once and weren't impressed either by the service (aloof and condescending) or the food (too sweet).
                                                                                        We will not go back because of this. Some places/things work for some people and not others.
                                                                                        If restaurants choose to favor some tables over others (for reasons of regular patronage, celebrity recognition, whatever) they should at least be subtle about it.

                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: buttertart
                                                                                          ttoommyy RE: buttertart Jun 8, 2011 11:51 AM

                                                                                          Excellent post buttertart. I agree with you 100%.

                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy
                                                                                            buttertart RE: ttoommyy Jun 8, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                                            Good to hear. The EMP drums on CH tend to overpower accolades for other restaurants.

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart
                                                                                              h
                                                                                              H Manning RE: buttertart Jun 8, 2011 12:51 PM

                                                                                              EMP = Earn My Perks :-)

                                                                                              Seriously though, no restaurant is perfect, and all restaurants favor their most frequent clients. In this case, I don't think EMP did anything wrong, it just fell short of the hoopla.

                                                                                              1. re: H Manning
                                                                                                buttertart RE: H Manning Jun 8, 2011 01:08 PM

                                                                                                From some of the carryon about it, you would think that food was lofted to you on the wings of angels, sprinkled with fairy dust.

                                                                                                1. re: buttertart
                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                  H Manning RE: buttertart Jun 8, 2011 01:14 PM

                                                                                                  Yea I know, but the posters who promote EMP are equally hyperbolic about their other favorite restaurants, and unfairly dismissive about others (e.g. they all seem to hate Le Bernardin for some reason). I've learned not to take their opinions too seriously.

                                                                                                  1. re: H Manning
                                                                                                    n
                                                                                                    nmprisons RE: H Manning Jun 8, 2011 01:33 PM

                                                                                                    Yep

                                                                                                    1. re: nmprisons
                                                                                                      buttertart RE: nmprisons Jun 8, 2011 01:35 PM

                                                                                                      You are spot on, Mr or Ms Manning.

                                                                                                    2. re: H Manning
                                                                                                      ellenost RE: H Manning Jun 8, 2011 01:48 PM

                                                                                                      Funny, this is a quote from H Manning's review of EMP just six months ago:

                                                                                                      "I enjoyed my lunch and was quite wowed by Eleven Madison Park. I definitely plan to return soon."

                                                                                                      Sounds like you're an EMP fan too.

                                                                                                      1. re: ellenost
                                                                                                        h
                                                                                                        H Manning RE: ellenost Jun 8, 2011 01:51 PM

                                                                                                        I didn't say I wasn't. I just haven't been as wowed by my subsequent dinners at EMP. Which is why I said that no restaurant is perfect, in EMP's defense.

                                                                                                        1. re: H Manning
                                                                                                          ellenost RE: H Manning Jun 8, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                                                                          No restaurant anywhere is perfect. All restaurants have their fans and those who don't like them. That's what makes CH interesting.

                                                                                            2. re: buttertart
                                                                                              Monica RE: buttertart Jun 8, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                                                              Excellent point.

                                                                                            3. The Chowhound Team RE: tara3056 Jun 8, 2011 04:31 PM

                                                                                              Some interesting conversation about a similar experience at Alinea was split over to our Chicago board, so it would be more visible to people looking for info on Alinea, but we'd encourage you to check it out here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/789147 if you're interested.

                                                                                              1. i
                                                                                                ian9139 RE: tara3056 Sep 1, 2011 11:47 AM

                                                                                                I came across this thread while trying to decide whether to dine at eleven madison park this week, and i couldn't help but comment bc it reminds me of the reason I am hesitant to return in the first place.

                                                                                                Three summers ago, we had the gourmand menu (5 course tasting) at lunch and part of the reason i suggested it was the value and, additionally, the supposed flexibility of the menu for diners which I thought made it ok for the less adventurous in our group. Essentially, when one of my dining partners asked if he could sub out his first course (beets w/ goat cheese) he was given a less-than-friendly response and eventually told he could only switch to the salad. This was pretty annoying because 1) all of the appetizers were similarly priced and it didn't seem to be a cost issue 2) it prevented other diners from making one or two switches which they had probably wished to make before the unhelpful response and especially 3) bc i had read other reports on chowhound that made it seem as if swaps were not only favorably received but also somewhat commonplace on the gourmand. I understand why this is not normally the case with tasting menus but I based my recommendation of it based on the supposed higher standard of service, and I left feeling surprised and let down that what I had expected as the normal set of "rules" had not applied to us.

                                                                                                To me this went beyond just a service issue bc it was not a matter of a bad waiter or waitress or special attention but a simple decision that was made which allowed some to swap dishes, a privilege which was denied to us.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: ian9139
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                                                                                                  nmprisons RE: ian9139 Sep 1, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                                                                  Serious question: if one "less-than-friendly" partial yes to a request "not normally" granted in other restaurants that occurred three years ago is keeping you from returning to EMP, are there any fine dining restaurants in the city to which you will happily return?

                                                                                                  I can honestly say that, were that my standard, I would be unable to go back to anywhere. All I know is that time and time again I get the best service at Per Se, EMP, and the one or two places I am (or was) a regular. Nothing else even comes close.

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                                                                                                  Per Se
                                                                                                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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