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Jan 25, 2012 10:49 AM

Service in DC?

Ok, I'm asking this question knowing that I'm probably opening a can of worms here, but I'm wondering if the service in DC restaurants and bars is deteriorating, or I'm just on a bad run?

I have noticed in a number of DC restaurants and bars it has been tough to get the attention of bartenders or waiters. For some reason, they don't have situational awareness and look around the room. I've noticed that they seem very focused on the task at hand, but it makes it difficult to engage with them if you want to order something, or draw their attention to something, or ask the whereabouts of something you've already ordered. They're always walking with a purpose, but check ins are rare.

It's been at a wide variety of places: Local 16, El Centro, Old Ebbitt, Hamilton, Urbana, Smoke & Barrel... This has not been the case at PS7s, Cashions, and Tabard Inn.

Is it me? Or is it happening to others?

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  1. People always complain about service in DC....although people probably complain about service wherever they are living.

    I've had good service at Urbana and El Centro (didn't particularly like the food there though) out of the places you listed.

    Personally I've worked in the food industry before some I'm usually pretty upbeat, friendly and forgiving (to a certain extent).

    I don't think you can really categorize the service as a whole in an entire city as being poor.

    You say check ins are rare. I read Tom Sietsema's chats every week and 1/2 the time people say they were ignored and 1/2 the time they say service checked in too often and were too friendly. So I think it's hard for servers to determine what to do since every diner wants something different.

    But you also just posted elsewhere about a terrible service experience at Local perhaps your still upset about that or have had a bad run.

    1. I don't know much about wait staff - but I know a lot about bartenders and I will say that each has their own little way of doing things whether intentional or out of habit. And the only thing worse than not being in rhythm with you bartender is trying to shoe horn your expectations of how their service should progress into their “system.”

      Some are masters of the 2nd or 3rd row of patrons behind the stools and others refuse to take you order until you are wedged up against the rail. I know one who works down the bar – left to right and if you have you head turned or don’t have you order together when he get to you – you have to wait until he goes all the way around the horn again.

      We all have our preferences on how we wish to be served but if I am staying for more than one – I try to watch the bartender work for a couple of minutes so I know how to fit my game into their system. . . .makes for a better evening.