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Whoa...Bayonna needs Restaurant Impossible help

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Have eaten in the FQ many many times. I never picked Bayonna because sweetbreads and rabbit not my cup of tea.

But, back for the Final Four, and the gorgeous aura of the courtyard hidden away in the FQ and the huge ratings and Susan Spicer aura finally drew me in.

Holy Cow....what a total disappointment. So bad the ambiance couldn't even make a dent.

The hostess told us we had to wait. No biggie. She said, "Sit in the lounge and order a drink." No one in the lounge. After 10, went back to the hostess and ordered drinks. Pet peeve: Instead of placing our order, right in front of us, she stopped and chatted up a coworker who was there to meet friends. Drinks never showed up until we were finally seated at our table.

It became obvious that Bayona staff only caters to locals. We weren't even sure who are waiter was. Several came by - but no one seemed to "own us." We ordered at 7:45p and our entrees were finally brought after two requests at 9:30p. Mine, the hangar steak, was cold and tough as leather.. My husband's fish was fresh but totally uninspired. Funny part, Harry Shearer, reference SNL and Simpson voice overs sat next to us. He was totally absorbed with twitter but he had waited longer than we did and a waiter came up to him and asked him what he wanted for dessert ! No entree...skip to dessert.

They did take my ice cold late entree off the bill. so what....we weren't there to save money...we were there to eat what every one said was a fabulous meal. Never again would I go back to this very cool oasis in the FQ. We, as diners, were disrespected and were served horrible food.

BTW...their famous garlic soup was amazing with depth of flavor - despite being burned ever so slighly. Only "slightly burnt" bright side of visit.

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  1. Sorry to hear that. I haven't been to Bayona in ages, not because of the food, but because of just what you described: I waited, waited, until finally, after the fifth different waiter had passsed, I grabbed one and asked, Please, just WHICH of you who keeps walking past me is my waiter?! Service never got any better as the meal progressed. And don't get me started about the goofy wine/corkage policies and smug attitudes. Would love to go back but I'd kick myself if my ususal experiences were borne out again.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sanglier

      I went to Bayona for the first time back in January. While the food was excellent, the service was not very good. It left a bad taste, so to speak. But I liked the ambiance and got to meet the chef so that was nice. They do this weird thing where they have 2 servers splitting our table and they explained this to us when we were seated. We liked one of them, but the other was a mess.

    2. Earlier today I made reservations based upon previous recommendations. However, I am cancelling them. Too many great restaurants to have to tolerate this quality of food and service. Thanks Ambiance for the heads up!

      3 Replies
      1. re: cjml

        I don't doubt that this unfortunate event happened just as described, and it is a big shame, but that's not the typical Bayona experience. I've never had anything but friendly, attentive, timely team service and excellent food in about a dozen visits.

        1. re: uptownlibrarian

          I'm with you. I have always had a good time in there and I am not a regular so I don't know if anyone remembers me although maybe I stand out in a suit..

          1. re: hazelhurst

            I've had rather amateurish service the last couple of times I've been, but the food has never let me down.

      2. Wow, things seem to have changed.

        We have not been "locals" in a few decades, and even when we had some "in tow," they were unknown by the restaurant.

        Still, all was very good, from the FOH to the food, to the service and wine service.

        I am sorry to hear of your disappointing visit. What a waste of talent and a great location.

        Hunt

        1. sorry to hear about your Bayona experience .
          we visited in November and had an excellent meal.
          I even forgot my new hat and they called my cell phone from the reservation and let me know they were holding it.

          1. i stopped going as well (despite loving the sweetbreads) due to goof service policies... in my case i would call to request the courtyard for my reservation. the hostess on the phone would say theyre first come, first serve. then when im there, about to be seated and i asked for the neary empty courtyard -- and they say it's reserved for regulars. nice.

            total BS, in my book. dont play games. just state what your rules are and live by them.

            1. That sort of policy is not enjoyed, nor respected by many.

              I have been in your position, with several other restaurants. It is not comfortable.

              In Hawai`i, I reserved a table about six months out for an anniversary with my wife. I called to confirm, sent two letters and a FAX, and then, upon arrival, was told that all "romantic tables" were reserved for Japanese businessmen, who might show up with their "escorts," and that we could not sit at any of them. We were allowed to ONLY sit in the restaurant's interior, while about 40 "ocean-side tables," sat empty.

              Similar in New Orleans, where the "prime tables" in one restaurant were only available for a "VIP," should they decide to dine that night, without a reservation.

              At another, very popular NOLA restaurant, where we had celebrated my wife's birthday for about 20 years, and always at the same table (even though we moved from NOLA after 10 years, and often flew in, just to dine with them for her birthday). Again, two telephone calls, a letter and two FAX'es, verifying that we would be dining with them, and confirming our table, when we arrived, we were told that we could not have that table, since an important diner had arrived, unannounced, and demanded it. Interesting, as I had called, just before we left Jefferson Parish, on our way there. Well, that was the last time that we have dined there by our own design. We have dined there, when others made the reservations, and let's just say that it was never the same again.

              A restaurant, that refuses to seat patrons at prime seats, in anticipation that a "regular" might show up, is skating on thin ice.

              Telling a diner, making a reservation that the prime seats are on a first-come-first-served basis, only to then tell them that "regulars" have made reservations are on that same thin ice.

              I understand wanting to keep returning patrons. It's the same in most aspects of business. A good customer is better than 3 "potential customers." In some businesses, the ratio is much higher. Still, I do not feel that new patrons should be excluded. They could well become the next great "regular?"

              I would urge restauranteurs to rethink the exclusion of new patrons, or returning patrons, who might not make it to the restaurant every month.

              Hunt

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                We recently ran into something in Singapore that I had not experience before. We were on a vacation to Singapore and Bali to celebrate a special birthday. The restaurant we chose in Singapore for the "big day" we Equinox...on the 70th floor of the Swisshotel, and in a setting where window tables have spectacular views of the skyline and bay. Because it was a very special occasion, I phoned well in advance to arrange for a window table. They told me that window tables were assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, but that for a $20 surcharge one could be guaranteed. I, of course, took that option, and indeed when we arrived, we had probably the best table in the house. Not a bad option...have never seen that policy anywhere else!

                 
                1. re: josephnl

                  Had I been offered the US $20 option, that would have been just fine. I have never encountered that before, but as we will be in Singapore this year, will keep that, plus the Equinox, in mind.

                  Thank you,

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    We considered going instead to the even more upscale Jaan Restaurant in the Swisshotel, just adjacent to Equinox. It was very, very expensive, and other CH's had recommended Equinox. We were very pleased with our dinner there, and the view is amazing.

                    We love the accommodations at the Ritz Carlton Millennia in Singapore. Their Marina Bay view rooms have amazing views.

                    Another absolutely must see in Singapore is the new Gardens by the Bay...very different from, but equally impressive as the National Orchid Garden.

              2. I'm sorry Bayona failed to live up to your expectations. I've gone there regularly for years, and have known people that have worked in the front and back of house there. I've had a few meals that weren't fine dining perfect, but I've never felt that money was wasted or I got a terrible meal.

                I have a small amount of insight to some of the complaints about Bayona elsewhere in the thread. One of Bayona's biggest limitations is the small size of the kitchen. They can only fire something like 8-9 plates at a time. This means they can't ever pack the dining rooms and courtyard - most of the time the restaurant has empty seats because they can't cook fast enough in such a small kitchen. It's a sad reality that they are in this iconic building, which they rent, and can't make the kitchen larger to accommodate bigger crowds and faster service. Food takes a while at Bayona, hence the offers of cocktails, and the spacing of the meal. FYI they also have a separate pastry kitchen off site, that's how small the main kitchen is!

                1 Reply
                1. re: nolaeats

                  Astute observations.

                  We have never toured the kitchen, but I certainly see your point.

                  I have had instances, with open tables, but too few servers on duty that night - maybe some called in sick, or maybe just poor planning. Regardless, the end effect can be the same.

                  Thanks for mentioning that.

                  Hunt