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Jan 5, 2014 06:35 PM

What does "bar seating" mean, specifically at Ici - but elsewhere too?

I am tempted to try Ici - reviews are so positive - but its website does not illustrate what the restaurant describes as "comfortable bar seating" as being their main availability. Can anyone describe exactly what this means at Ici, and would larger people be comfortable in it? Is it private, or at least as private as a table for two would be in a busy bistro? I've seen this description of seating at other restaurants - are their accommodations much the same? Thanks!

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  1. elsewhere too...

    at the bar, tables or booths in the bar area...or communal tables in the bar.

    1. Bar seating at Ici is similar to bar seating at any bar. It's not communal, but you may have people to the left or right of you.

      Has anyone been recently?

      Are components of their apps still showing up in the mains?

      10 Replies
      1. re: justxpete

        hope i'm not sending out wrong information, but i swear i heard that they closed.

        1. re: atomeyes

          I really don't think so. Drove by NYE and it was open. Voice mail states nothing of the sort either.

        2. re: justxpete

          I've been recently and as Pete says, the bar seating is just like bar seating in any other resto - some of it is along the actual bar and some of it faces into the kitchen. There are a couple (ie, one or two) of tables for 2 that you can reserve but you must specifically request them and they are not always available. The place is really tiny.

          Pete, on the apps/mains issue you raise - the bulk of Ici's menu can be ordered in either app size or main size - so the components would actually be exactly the same between the two. This is intentional and as a diner I really appreciate it because it lets me pick the dishes I like without worrying that I can't finish a full app and full main. There are a couple of things that are stand alone apps such as oysters but the rest is part of the "choose by size" dinner menu.

          1. re: Cat123

            Some restaurants (such as Le Select) have a separate bar area with a bar but also some small tables (café type tables) and they may call these "Bar seating" when you call for a reso as opposed to the main dining room seating in the back. So "bar seating is just like bar seating in any other resto" is not quite true for every restaurant. Same for a place like Bucca or even the Keg. These Bar tables tend to be nosier as well and more likely to have more people moving around you as you are eating.

            1. re: pourboi

              Agree. I guess the distinction here is "at the bar" vs. "in the bar".

              1. re: pourboi

                I was referring to the physical aspect, for which the OP seemed to be asking.

              2. re: Cat123

                I'm not referring to app or main portion size. I'm referring to ordering appetizers, then completely different mains, and seeing some components in our mains that were either *our* appetizers, or *in* our appetizers, which is fairly odd (read: repetitive).

                1. re: justxpete

                  my sister was there in nov and said her meal had lots of repetitiveness.

                  - khao san road

                  1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                    Thanks KSR. It appears things haven't changed, then.

                    1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                      The only thing I found repetetive during my last meal were the croquettes. Most mains come with a croquette, so the basket of appetizer croquettes isn't necessary, unless you'd like extra croquettes.

              3. This is a good picture to show the "bar seating" specifically at Ici. i.e. the bar stools at the bar & kitchen vs. the tables along the wall. Best Bar seats (for me) would be the ones facing the kitchen as then you get to watch them cook...

                3 Replies
                1. re: pourboi

                  Thank you Pourboi - precisely the sort of seating I would not like, as the whole point of dinner for two imho is to sit opposite one's companion, not to have to keep making sideways glances, and - apparently at some of this seating as illustrated - to do a 180 to converse with a waiter.

                  Would anyone know whether at Ici it is possible to reserve one of the "regular" tables for two?

                  1. re: Bigtigger

                    It has been a few years since I have been, but I made reservations and was seated at a "regular" table for two. My guess is that the bar seating may be for walk-ins. You could always call in and ask for a table when making your reservation.

                    1. re: bluefirefly

                      the bar seating used to be reserved for walk-ins, but they are now reservable as well, or at least they were, last time I was there.

                2. Beyond the bar seating seen in the picture in the earlier post. There is a seating for 2 by the window at the front of the restaurant that looks out to Harbord Street. If I remember correctly, the seats were bar stools. We didn't mind it but I can see how it can be off putting to some.

                  Ici is a very small restaurant and regular 2 and 4 tops are limited and fairly close to each other. The 'table' facing the street provided a little more room and kept our conversation to ourselves rather than our dining neighbours.

                  We would have enjoyed the actual bar seats facing the kitchen as the chef was fairly interactive with the diners especially when he's preparing his souffles.

                  We also liked the idea of appetizer portions as it gave us the flexibility to try more items.

                  As suggested, best thing to do is to call.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ragged25

                    This time of year I find the window seats a bit cold as are the seats by the door.

                  2. Bar seating means you sit in uncomfortable stools and have about 6 square inches of table space. They tried to foist that off on me a Ici Bistro. Any one who accepts it rather than a real table is being taken. I expect a table and a chair, not a stool and a ledge.

                    And no, it has nothing to do with walk ins since I had a reservation.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: evansl

                      To each their own. We didn't mind it as it made sharing our dishes easier. But I agree if you want a proper meal setting and want to face your companion, it's not the best.

                      1. re: ragged25

                        The a SO and I I sit at the bar all the time. We often prefer it. But, if you make proper reservations, you should not be given a bar seat. That's unacceptable. Especially if you're not forewarned.

                        1. re: ragged25

                          It's one thing to sit a bar for a quick meal. It's quite another to sit at the bar in a restaurant with the pretensions and prices of Ici Bistro. Part of what tou are paying for is the space you take up. If you are sitting at a bar you should not be charged the same as people at a table.

                          It's also a sad commentary on the times that Grisham's Law seems to have spread to restaurants. People who are willing to accept substandard service and seating encourage restaurants to treat their patrons worse and worse.

                          I will say, however, that the food was excellent.

                          1. re: evansl

                            you do not pay for the space you are taking up.. you pay for the food otherwise takeout would be cheaper than eat in...

                            1. re: pourboi

                              This is utter nonsense. A restaurant has only so many tables. You take up one, you are costing the restaurant.

                              And in fact, most restaurants do give discounts for take out.

                              1. re: evansl

                                What restaurants give you a discount for take out? I don't think I have ever seen this.

                                1. re: LexiFirefly

                                  I have seen quite a few that have it advertised on their menus, but they are not high end restaurants. I think that most were Chinese restaurants. But of course it should cost the restaurant less for each take-out customer compared to a dine-in one ordering the same food.

                                  1. re: foodyDudey

                                    I agree to a certain point. I just have never seen somewhere I regularly eat in, have a discount for take out. I've seen it more at delivery places.

                                    1. re: LexiFirefly

                                      And this post is about ICI, has anyone ever seen a fine dining restaurant offer discounts on takeout? :-)

                            2. re: evansl

                              I do not understand the argument for lower prices when sitting at the bar. I agree that it's a different dining experience, but there are enough people that actually prefer sitting at the bar and interacting with the bartender. I've had great meals and experiences at Splendido, Harbord Room and Guu sitting at the bar. Service was definitely not lacking and it was fun picking the bartender's brains on cocktails at the Harbord Room and watching the chefs at Guu cooking at mad paces. Food is obviously the same quality, it really depends on your personal preference.

                              To further the argument, people request to have a bar seating at Japanese restaurants just to be in the action and watch the sushi chefs at work. Should they be charged less for being treated worse than diners sitting at tables?

                              A restaurant should not be trashed for having the same prices for the bar. No one forces you to sit at the bar and every time I've sat at the bar, the host/hostess always politely asks whether that is okay before hand.

                              If you don't like it, then respectfully decline, or better yet, ask for a table when making a reservation.