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May 9, 2012 05:56 AM

I would like to tell you about the food at Orinoco (Brookline)

But for the second time in as many visits, we have had ...issues.

First time some months ago, orders got lost + slack service, we assessed, pulled up stakes, went next door to Pomodoro, fine meal. They were very apologetic, wanted to comp the drinks but I insisted on paying. Hey, no biggie - stuff happens.

Last night though, a different flavor - was told 15 minutes for a party of three...seemed optimistic but we sit at the bar, order a round - my Brazilian pisco sour had good flavor, but it was not properly strained, so had little crunchy bits of ice throughout. Again, no biggie, but in light of our last experience, just getting the feeling that something is amiss again...

30 minutes later, a booth has opened up, it's cleared...and we're waiting...

45 minutes now, I ask the bartender, so, um, you know, what's the deal? Are we going to be seated? She frowns, leaves the bar, goes to the back, comes out and informs us that the owner is holding that seat for family... Ok, we bounce. (Fine pizza and salad at Emma's, never an issue there)

As we leave, squeezing through the other folks waiting for a table crammed around the door, there is no "family" in sight...

Normally I would not post this kind of thing - I would just shake the dust off my shoes and not return. Like Mom said, if you don't have something nice to say....

But I feel like this displayed a certain kind of arrogance on the part of the owner and contempt for one's patrons that merits a special mention. First, a complete lack of communication by the guy who took our name (not the bartender), who surely knew what was going on but never had the guts to let us know that his 15 minute estimate was way off the mark, the reason we were not getting seated at the obviously available table, etc.

But more telling, sending your staff to do your dirty work of basically telling off a potential customer, a big Eff You to someone who was willing to wait close to an hour for a seat? Not even the decency to do it yourself? Really? I can only suspect that the same kind of contempt goes into how the food is prepared as well.

I'll be sure never to darken Orinoco's doorstep again.

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  1. I'm shocked this place was so jammed on a rainy Tuesday night that a party of 3 couldn't get a seat in 45 minutes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gordough

      It was weird - Island Creek, Pomodoro, Orinoco - all long waits last night.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        is it too early for any of the early commencements?

        1. re: Madrid

          No, they began May 4th, will run until June 8th and the killer weekend is May 18-21. There are six commencements this weekend.

          May and early June are busy times in Boston restaurants. If you need reservations get them quickly.


          1. re: Madrid

            The folks there did not seem to be graduation-related.

      2. Wow, I was going to say that maybe they haven't reached equilibrium since the Harvard Sq. place opened, but if the owner was there, that's no excuse. As a matter of fact, that sounds like the main problem.

        We probably passed each other at Emma's. Always a good option for us.

        1. Place is always crazy busy, no matter what the weather. I find you have to get there practically when they open to avoid a wait.

          2 Replies
          1. I did eat there for lunch months ago. It was fine. That said, I've never felt the urge to go back and don't recall what I ate. Damning with faint praise, really.

            1. I like the Harvard Square location a lot --- better than I remember the South End version was a couple years ago anyway. Never had this problem there, although last time I was there the owner refused to seat the three members of our party of four who had arrived. Had the restaurant been totally full, or if it were early on a Saturday night I could understand, but they were maybe two-thirds full, several four tops were open, and it was 7:30 PM on a week night. After the three of us stood in the doorway awkwardly for twenty minutes she relented after I promised our fourth was on his way. The arepas are fresh and the fillings are very flavorful. Our party of four ordered one of every arepa and the trio of empenadas and had a feast for a bargain price.

              6 Replies
              1. re: lipoff

                wow lipoff, i admire your easygoingness. I would have sat right down , or said that we wanted to get started with our meal before the 4th arrived. Then ,if she gave me any more sh..t ,i would speak harshly, leave, and never return. This is not the welcoming front of the house that one wants to see when they are going out for a relaxed evening .

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Not sitting incomplete parties isn't exactly an oddity.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    For a casual restaurant when it's not full on a weeknight, I think an inflexible policy is unacceptably inhospitable. I like the food, and I like the location, and I'll be back, but I'm not as much a fan because of their overall attitude towards hospitality.

                    1. re: lipoff

                      Not saying that I like it nor that I agree, but that sort of situation is hardly uncommon. I agree with your stances in both posts, it was more opinionatedchef's (IMO) over the top reaction to it that I took issue with.

                    2. re: jgg13

                      Often places with that policy will seat you if you have 3 out of 4 present. Less likely to affect revenue if you get seated while waiting for that last person as opposed to one person holding an empty table for 8.

                      Orinoco's the kind of place i want to love. It's just never been worth the wait. Really cramped too if you're seated against the wall. Food's ok. I'd go back but am in no rush.