Underwhelmed at 51 Lincoln.
Our dear Newton friends have been wanting us to come out to their neighborhood restaurant for years. We chose our mutual birthdays as a chance to go to 51 Lincoln. We made a reservation several weeks in advance for 7:45 on a Saturday. When we got there our table was not available. The party at what would have been our table (for a party of seven), that had been there since 5:30, was no where near ready to leave. The front of the house was not sympathetic to us. They even said that they are a popular restaurant and what did we expect? We could go elsewhere. I can understand the staff wanting to be respectful to their diners seated at the table, but could they be respectful to the customers waiting for their reservation to be fulfilled?
We were finally seated 45 minutes past our reserved time. The waiter was apologetic. When we ordered, they were out of some of the items we were looking forward to. We found the food to be mediocre and overpriced. To add insult, our entrees arrived at 9:45, a full two hours after when we should have been seated.
We were comped dessert and my friend was given a gift card. A later communication with the owner came up short of an apology and he said that the hostess was uncomfortable with her interactions with our party.
Not worth the trip. We should have stayed in our own neighborhood.
I just finished Danny Meyer's book about hospitality and that highlights the problem: we don't have much of a hospitality culture.
Reminds of a place that opened on Comm Ave some years back. Some friends were waiting for a table and told the host one of them had to run back home for something important. His response: be back in 15 minutes or don't come back. Sort of the anti-hospitality moment. So many places all over the US but certainly around Boston think in terms of covers and selling instead of hospitality. And they wonder why they have problems staying in business.
So could they be respectful? Sure, but they don't care enough about hospitality and don't understand what it is and don't know how to do it, so no they won't.
I've had this happen to me. I swore it would never happen again, so I always have plan B. An experienced diner should be able to sense potential problems as soon as they enter a place. I've left many places when i see a large noisey group. Large groups if not handled correctly can kill a mom and pop place. The restauant's attitude will kill them even faster.
Not a dissimilar experience a while back -
We had 8:30 reservations for 4 (a bit late for my taste) but the Hostess told us to come early to try to get early seating. We arrived at 7:45 and settled in the bar for some drinks. 8:15, 8:30, 8:45 and 9 roll around. We've been up to the hostess couple of times just to let them know we were still in the bar if they were looking for us. By 9:30, we decide we don't really need dinner any longer, so we order some bar snacks and go to tell the hostess, who is seating a 4some with 9 pm reservations!!!! That's when I lose it and demand the manager who was very apologetic, blah blah blah. He catches our bar snack order and sends out plate upon plate upon plate of stuff to us to make amends. Champagne comes around, and our glasses are never empty for the rest of the night. In the end, we shut the place down (we didn't start until 10 really), and he comps us the entire evening, with a gift card to go. It was a really nice gesture, but the gift card is still sitting in a drawer somewhere....
I had a similar experience in reverse there. I had an early seating and was pushed to order immediately. When we ordered our drinks they asked if we were ready to order, when they brought our drinks the suggested we order, and after a few sips of our drinks they told us we had to order or leave. It had been about ten minutes since we sat down. It wasn't just that they clearly had overbooked, it was the way we were treated. They made you feel like you were unwanted. The way they spoke to us, the way they glared at us, I felt like I was being reprimanded by my parents. I will add that this was a table of two. I spoke to a number of people from the restaurant and all of them had the same rude attitude. Reading your comments I can feel how I was treated that night and I am glad I never went back and never will. One of the worst experiences I have had in the Boston area.