I woke up on the early side Saturday morning, started txting around about brunch plans. Agreed to go to Essex at Noon with good-sized group. We called a bit ahead at around 11am and put our name down. We were told that if we arrived by Noon, there’d be an hour wait to sit, but that was OK. We were all happy to kill some time at the bar, catch up, hang out, etc.
Our entire party was there at a few minutes before Noon (a rare feat for a group this size), and we checked in to notify. They told us it’d be about an hour, as before, and we settled in by the bar, had a few drinks. No big deal.
A little more than an hour goes by and we check in to see the status of our table, expecting something along the lines of “oh, you're table's just paying now, should be a few minutes.” Instead we are told, rather matter of factly, that it will probably be another 40-45 minutes before we can be seated.
Ahem. My friend confirms that they have our name down already, tries to explain that we had called ahead, were told an hour an hour ago, etc, but that didn’t seem to impress either hostess.
So here’s the fun part. After expressing a bit of frustration, she told us that we should have called ahead if we ever expected to get seated. After explaining that we, um, had, she curtly stated “I mean, like 2 weeks ago” Then, perhaps rudely reminding her that we were talking about a $15 brunch special and not the main fucking dining room at Jean Georges, she told us, “Well, that’s just how it’s done in New York.”
Now, in fairness to the restaurant, this particular hostess seemed young and none of us, who semi-regularly come here for brunch, had recognized her. But to tell anyone “how it's done”...no less a bunch of old friends who were born and raised in New York City, is a slap in the face to an astronomical degree. With a smile, my friend promptly told her to fuck off, and we went down the street to Bondi Road, where we ate more or less the exact same food and drank the exact same unlimited Mimosas with a lovely Aussie charm. I mean, for Christ sakes, Essex! If you won't be able to seat us, tell us over the phone like grownups. If you realize once we got there that you might have underestimated the crowd and won't be able to seat us, come over and tell it to us straight. To treat us as if we, a group of willing paying customers, are to blame for wanting to come eat at your restaurant is beyond pathetic. Especially after telling us you'd be able to seat us in the first place. What an awful, awful experience.
I'm starting to feel the same way about below Houston Street as I felt about above 14th street growing up. It's becoming harder and harder to find reasons to go there, and I'm almost always frustrated/disappointed when I do.