Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Restaurant is Rough Around the Edges

  There's only one chance to make a first impression. And my initial encounter with Table 9 was not a  positive experience.

   I had a business lunch scheduled for last week and decided to multitask by using the occasion to check out this new restaurant in the Ohio Savings Building. It's been open about a month, a reboot for the space once occupied by One Walnut.

  Since my companion and I wanted to meet at 2 p.m., I called to be sure the kitchen would still be serving. The answer was yes and the person on the other end of the line urged me to make a reservation so they'd know we were coming, and that's what I did.

  I showed up on time. The bar, where I entered, was totally empty and no one was in sight. I went further into the space and saw that the dining room was completely empty when we were seated.

  Although we didn't ask, our waiter instantly launched into a long monologue about how all the tables been filled until a few minutes ago and how difficult lunch service had been because they were shorthanded. I was doubtful as every single table was clear, clean, set and ready for customers.

 We waited rather a long time for our orders, considering that the kitchen was clearly not backed up. My companion rated her crab cakes merely OK. My lamb burger was the kind of presentation that totally annoys me because, though attractive, there's no obvious or easy way to actually eat it. The flatbread wasn't large enough to wrap around the hunk of ground meat so I couldn't pick it up like a proper sandwich. When I tried to lift it the tomato slices, feta crumbles, and arugula leaves all fell out. To make me even more unhappy, I'd requested it medium to rare. It was presented closer to overcooked. The sound of pots crashing and stuff falling punctuated our meal.  

   Right now, they are only serving breakfasts and lunches. Dinners are supposed to start next month. I know I should give this spot another chance but frankly, I'm not eager to return. That's the thing about first impressions: the tone's been set and opinions formed. It would take a lot to change my mind. Chef Dimitri Ragousis, most recently of Battery Park Wine Bar, and his team would have to go above and beyond to dispel my negative attitude.

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