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Dec 16, 2012 08:13 PM

Lame Bar Service At Tertulia

i stopped in tonight, considering a meal at the bar...when ordering a drink first, i (a big fan of Spanish wine) was intrigued by the option of "Samso" on the list by the glass:

Simon: "Hmm, interesting! Samso? That's the varietal?"

Bartender: "Yes!"

Simon: "Where is it from?"

Bartender: "It's from Crianza!"

Simon: [politely embarassed for the bartender, yet annoyed by ignorance, and stifling the urge to laugh in his face]: "'Crianza' is an aging category, not a region"

Bartender: [stoney, ignorant stare]...

Simon: "Well! Can i try it please?"

[Bartender gives me the bottle and i learn from the fine print that 'Samso' is the Catalan term for the French varietal Carignan and that the wine is from Catalunya]

Simon: [trying wine and liking it]: "This is yummy! I'll take a glass!! For future reference, it's from Catalunya, and it's the Catalan term for the varietal Carignan. Just in case anyone asks."

Pathetic when i have to do the manager/sommellier/bartender's job for them...

I was disgusted by the lameness, so instead of eating there, i went down the street to Bar Pitti and had a fab meal...

Shocking how poor the wine service can be here in NYC, even at a nice place which pretends to understand Spanish wine...

Tertulia is off my list...

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  1. Maybe the bartender just figured you were so much smarter than him and he was testing you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mitchleeny's not about smart: it's simple very very basic knowledge of Spanish wine: "Crianza" is not a's like having someone working in an American BBQ joint and having them say "Oh, the pork is from an area in the Deep South called 'Smoked'" speaks very poorly of the restaurant's management...

      1. re: mitchleeny

        Also, Tertulia has 3 (three!) red wines by the doesn't take much prep for a bartender to know them...

      2. I don't (can't) drink, but when I order food I am am afraid to come off as too demanding. Ideally I would have my waiter captive for 5-10 minutes while grilling them on the menu items so I can have a better idea of the ones I like.

        Yesterday I unwittingly made the head chef (open kitchen) yell at my waiter (for the entire room to hear) for a real and/or perceived fault. I had no issues, but that was so funny and uncomfortable.

        1. Even though the bartender made a mistake, your reaction ("stifling the urge to laugh in his face," your passive-aggressive correction) might explain the "stoney [sic], ignorant stare." Service staff are people, not encyclopedias and they do make mistakes and don't know everything.

          Tertulia's food is very good; you're missing out.

          2 Replies
          1. re: loratliff

            I agree with the OP's disgust about how a bartender in a well-known NYC Spanish tapas house not know a basic Spanish wine term as "Crianza". I can understand that he/she might not know about the Catalan term of "Samso", and should own up to that without shame, but to incorrectly use the word Crianza is quite inexcusable for a bartender in a Spanish tapas place.

            On the other hand, I thought at the point in the story where
            ("Simon: [trying wine and liking it]: "This is yummy! I'll take a glass!! For future reference, it's from Catalunya, and it's the Catalan term for the varietal Carignan. Just in case anyone asks.")
            everything was already fine and hunky dory and that OP would stick around for the food and just brush off the incidence. It didn't sound like the incidence was major deal-breaker, at least to me, for the OP forego the rest of the dining experience.

            Btw, just as a disclosure, I'm one who's not that big on Tertulia's food but have experienced excellent service.

            1. re: loratliff

              i've eaten the food several times before...i think it varies between decent to very good...personally i find a lot of their dishes a bit too busy/forced in terms of additional ingredients, so it has never made my regular rotation, but i've had yummy dishes...

              i don't think my correction was passive-aggressive, though i can surely see how it might have sounded that way here...i actually opened by confessing my total ignorance of "Samso" and was delighted to learn/taste something new...

              It's not a big deal either way, just left a poor impression...

              but in NYC, this is a lesson for restauranteurs that we diners have many many choices here: i went to Tertulia looking to either upgrade or downgrade it rotation-wise, as past experiences had left me generally positive but not wowed enough to return often...having a bartender totally clueless about Spanish wine tipped the scales the wrong way for the place...if he'd even said, "Damn, i really need to learn more about Spanish wine. Ok, if you don't mind, tell me about Catalunya and Crianza and what they mean", it still would have been a bit ridiculous, but at least it would have been honest...bottom line: he wasn't prepared for his job: Tertulia serves 3 or 4 red wines by the glass; learning where they are from isn't asking too much...

            2. Can i ask what your barkeep looked like?

              7 Replies
              1. re: tex.s.toast

                naw, i've already harshed on the barkeep too much and let live :)

                1. re: Simon

                  I have a friend who works there, which is why i asked. It would seem it could not have been him, as he has been out of town traveling. (and hes a good bartender)

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    Unless he's traveling in the fictional region of Crianza, it's not him ;)

                    1. re: Simon

                      Hey, I am from Crianza, i moved there as a child from Sautee ,,,,, Oh my, Simon you did have me laughing, but I bet if you asked the bar tender about the beer he would have been more on the ball. The beer if from the Germany from a town called Keg. Anyway, i don't expect much from bartenders in simple restaurants. It's more annoying going to a place like Corton, and the waiters describe your dish in some unknown language , kind of a mix of french ukrainian with a mexican accent. Or when a sommelier has an uppity attitude and doesn't have a clue, at a famously fancy place called Le Bernadin, and serving an expensive Bordeaux (Ducru) wine at a temperature far below cellar temperature. I don't want to ramble on,,, but the half bottles of wine at Bar Pitti are pretty decent. And the food is more consistent than Tertulia. Good move , moving on.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        thanks, i'll have to try the half-bottles at Bar Pitti sometime...what i've usually ordered there is a glass of Chianti, which i've enjoyed...

                        1. re: Simon

                          I believe the wine I usually get is made with the Sicilian Nero D'avola grapes, it goes great with their food. If i go there this week i'll report back with which wine it is.

                          1. re: Simon

                            Went back to Bar Pitti for an excellent meal. Veal meatballs, burata, papardelle with rabbit ragu and pounded veal chop milanese. An excellent meal. However, they did not have the Nero D'avola wine. I was mistaken. It seemed that they once had it in full bottles. They only had one choice of half bottle, a chianti. I must have had that, on my last visit, and it was good. Tonite i had a glass of Chianti.