HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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.

                  2. i for one believe that your report, your negative report, is very helpful to all of us. It is clear that you are a rational and forgiving diner, and i think you are perfectly reasonable in your expectations and your disappointment with this place and esp. the owner. sorry to hear it.

                    Is this in Brookline Village? Have you tried/had luck w/ Matt Murphy's?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I thought about Matt Murphy's but have not been there in some time and at that point, we felt it safer to stick with a sure thing. Appreciate your and all other feedback - I do worry that my barometer on these things may not be properly calibrated.

                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                        Your barometer is calibrated just as it should be. You're a mannerly respectful considerate diner giving your hard earned money to a business that SHOULD be in the business of making customers feel warmly welcomed and cared for.

                    2. I will tell you that the one time I ate there the woman running the place was extremely nice. We ended up waiting quite a while longer than expected on the patio in front of the door and she gave us and another couple a bottle of wine to share while we were out there. Luckily they didn't drink.

                      1. That is pretty messed up. Maybe they live in such fear of the owner that they didn't dare seat you. In a rational world you should have priority and the owner should wait, really out of pure selfishness, since you would have been a revenue source, whereas the owner's meal is a loss to the restaurant. As someone who has worked in restaurants it always galled me that owners would come in during peak hours, take up a table, make lots of fussy demands, get everyone nervous and shift the focus of the staff to themselves, leaving paying guests in the wake.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: suzysue2

                          The main problem is communication, or lack thereof, and it starts at the head at Orinoco from the sound of it.

                          Contrast this with my dinner this weekend at Pescatore - place was busyish, but no wait - the waiter takes a little while to come by, but we sat on the patio and were just chilling out. He immediately apologizes, which was unnecessary. After taking drink orders, etc., says he is a little backed up right now, so might take a few minutes. That's all that need be said.

                          And of course, there was no measurable delay at all.

                          Same thing at Biryani Park - first time there, the hostess/owner (?) remarked that it was going to take a long time to get our food - it was a little too humble in my opinion, and at least for us, we somehow line jumped everyone else in the place (probably because of what we ordered - soup, dosa, biryani.

                          It's all about communication.