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October 10, 2010

It happened last night -- a Baltimore dining story

elaineAt 8:45 last night, in one of Baltimore's fanciest restaurants, a woman with 8:30 reservations for a group of 10 asked the maitre d' when her party would be seated. He pointed out her table, and said it would be quickly reset as soon as the party then occupying it left. According to the employee, who told me this story, the seated party truly was in its finishing-up stages.

This employee also told me that he customarily goes into make-happy mode at about the 25-minute mark -- buying drinks for the waiting party, offering the seated party a nightcap if they relocate to the bar, a follow-up round of appetizers for the delayed party. That kind of thing.

But it didn't happen that way last night. The waiting woman entered the dining room, walked directly over to the party, and instructed them to vacate, pronto. The table was hers now, she told them.

Naturally, the table holders, who were within minutes of actually leaving, decided to squat for another 20 minutes. Not relevant to the story, but still funny -- the seated party's host was a sitting member in the Maryland House of Delegates.



Posted by Richard Gorelick at 2:53 PM | | Comments (11)


Good for them. I would have lazed around for more than 20 minutes in response to that madness. "Oh - I hear you do a great souffle!"


My wife and I have a condo in Portland Maine, which is a very foodie city. One of the best know restaurants is Sam Hayward's Fore Street Grill.
Apparently George H Bush and his entrouage appaeared one night and was politely told they were full. They quickly left to places unknown. Most nights Fore Street is very busy - they save one third of their seating for walk-ins but they still go quickly!

Good for her. Too many people accept this behavior at the "fanciest" and most expensive restaurants. If the restaurant is not sure it can accommodate the reservation, it shouldn't accept it. Instead of offering a free whatever, the maitre d' should get them what they really want - a table.

If diners show up late for a reservation, the restaurant can cancel it. If the people show up on time and the restaurant can't seat them, tough noogies.

The passive-aggressiveness from a sitting member in the Maryland House of Delegates is disappointing, though not surprising. Their job, it seems, is to sit around and do nothing.

Nobody knows how late the people at that table were seated, when their food came out, or anything.

If I was seated at a table with friends and family, having dessert or coffee or whatever, and we were politely minding our own business, I'd be shocked and insulted if some complete stranger approached our table and asked us to leave.

Faced with that abject rudeness I certainly would instruct the rest of our party to take their time finishing up. Of course it's not good manners to linger excessively on a busy night, but I'd make an exception in that case!

plus, the 8:30 party, presumably, has that table for as long as they want it. they could close the place down. The place in question has a beautiful and spacious bar, too, where I'd have been happy to cool my jets.

It's amazing how arrogant some people are. I would have ordered more coffee, after dinner drinks, whatever it would have taken to irritate that rude woman.

A couple of years ago in Del Ray Forida, something similar happened..Diners sitting next to us were accousted by crazy lady who told them to finish up and get up since she had been wathing them linger over coffee,,I said to them, you don't have to listen to her. when they did leave, crazy lady and her mom walked by our table, and she looked at me and said(you guessed it) Bitch


The best part of this of course is that a fine dining restaurant thinks it's perfectly reasonable to mismanage reservations such that a party of 10 could be left waiting in the lobby for over 15 minutes without explanation or apology.

If a customer with a reservation has to ask when the table will be ready, the maitre-d' is doing it wrong.

Zippy would never stand for it. I can't imagine why anybody else would either.

This incident and the fact you can take advantage of early bird specials are more reasons to eat dinner at 4:30.

Spoken like a true Cross Keys native. Just be thankful you're not a resident of Del Boca Vista

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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