Monday, March 12, 2012

Feeling a bit sensitive

Last night, as I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, and really hungry but too tired to get up and contemplate making or eating anything, I decided I wanted to do a comparative survey of restaurant Macaroni N Cheese in the Seattle/Eastside area.  (Yes, I know, it's not Paleo.)

this is typically how restaurant meals go

So today I figured after our weekly Target run to pick up our Project Life photos (I'm trying to get caught up!), we'd head over to the Barking Frog in Woodinville to try their Bacon Mac N Cheese.

As long as BabyT isn't overly hungry or tired, she does well in restaurants.  Partly because of her mellow personality, and partly because we've been "practicing" since she was a baby.  We've only had to leave a restaurant due to behavior issues twice, and both were dangerously close to bedtime.  The last time we had to do that was nearly a year ago.

So I had no qualms about a Monday 11:30 lunch at a fairly nice restaurant.

It's been a rainy, miserable morning, so I was glad to finally get into the restaurant.  It was, as I expected, empty, 5 minutes after opening.  When I requested a table, the hostess told me they were all full for reservations and she suggested a different place down the street.

Let me repeat - the restaurant was EMPTY.   It's a Monday, in February, 11:30 am, in kind of an out-of-the-way location.

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but I felt like she was trying to bounce us out of there.  Part of my sensitivity is due to the fact that I've unsuccessfully tried to eat at this place a few times before. A couple of times, they had no reservations available (when I called).  Once, they hung up on me immediately after telling me they were full, though I was still talking.  They just seem a little... snotty.  And it's not that *fancy* a restaurant - it's a rural suburb of Seattle, and nothing here is formal.

So we made our way to the very excellent Purple Cafe down the street (which also, thankfully, has mac n cheese on the menu).  And our experience there made me wonder if the Barking Frog really did intend to keep us out.

Purple is running the same 3 courses for $25 promo that Barking Frog is (which is why BF claimed they were full), yet there were only about 6 or 7 full tables at Purple during our *entire* meal.  The food  and atmosphere are comparable.

Anyway, T and I had a delightful lunch.  She got to practice her "restaurant manners" and inhaled a GIANT plate of pasta.  I got my Lobster Mac N Cheese (more on that in a future post).  Our waitress complimented T on her language skills, and the hostess complimented her on her behavior (what mama doesn't love to hear that?!).  We got no dirty looks from other patrons.

But I think I'm done with trying to go to the Barking Frog.  Maybe it's inheriting Bad Juju from its next door neighbor, The Herbfarm.

What do you think?  Am I being overly sensitive?  I suppose it is possible that on Monday at 11:30 they were going to fill up with 100+ diners in the next few minutes...


  1. I can tell you that during the dine around Seattle event, Barking Frog is a MAD HOUSE. YY and I went one year and it was really hard to get a reservation. We had an 11:30 am reservation, and while it was empty when we got there, it filled up quickly.

    So I don't think it was completely you.

  2. @adrianne - that makes me feel better. I didn't realize the Dine Around Seattle lunch deal was that popular (dinner, I know about!)

    I've eaten there once before and thought it was good, but not *that* good. Then again, we didn't like the Herbfarm either, so maybe we're just weird like that.

  3. Also, remember that good restaurants will often turn people away/ask them to wait if they don't have the staff to deal with them well.

  4. @Cloud - the hostess made a point of telling me how busy they would be, though. Eh, I'm (mostly) over it. We'll take our $$ elsewhere.

  5. I've tried to get into the BF a couple of times recently. Once just stopping by and like you - empty tables - the hostess was rather rude, and frankly made me not want to eat there based on that.

    I called the second time to make reservations. We had reservations for 8pm. Got there and said we'd have to wait for 45 minutes because they were behind. I wasn't a happy camper. So when I explained to the hostess that reservations generally mean that we have a "reserved" table, she got kinda snotty. The next day I called to chat with the manager and was told he didn't have time to chat with a customer.

    Service is everything to me. I don't care HOW good your food may be (I wouldn't know cuz I've not actually made it in) but for a manager to not have time to talk to a customer is a huge restaurant no-no to me. And even if he was busy, could they not have taken my # and had him call me.

    So I think there are plenty other great restaurants who are willing to let you and T be there. She's SOOOOO good at restaurants that I know I'd be happy to share a table with her.

  6. @Jenn - that's pretty amazing. Business must be really, really, good if the manager "doesn't have time" to talk to customers... Yuck.

  7. I think this (the empty restaurant but "we can't fit you in") is in large part a Seattle restaurant culture thing. We've encountered it in some of the nicer restaurants in the Pike's Place Market area and we find it perplexing. There is just no hustle. If it were NY or Chicago (where we've lived before), people would hustle and get you a table in their empty joint. It's like they're hungrier for your business back east. Not so much in Seattle. Go figure.

    That said, I've eaten at both THF and BF, and I actually thought the food was fantastic at both. THF was hands down the best service I've ever had anywhere. I think at BF they tend to save space for guests of the hotel across the way - I bet there was group of hotel guests about to arrive at noon the day you were there. That, plus non-hustling Seattle restaurant culture = no table. It's weird, but try not to take it personally. I've just learned to always make reservations.


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