Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Don't eat at La Scala

There’s a restaurant in Beverly Hills called La Scala. They’ve been there a million years. It’s an Italian place. Nothing special about the pastas or main courses. But they offer this chopped salad that is very popular. It’s very finely chopped and if you go at lunch you’ll see 9 out of 10 people order it. Like I said, it’s very good, but it’s just a salad. I don’t think you’d need ten chemists to break down its ingredients in order to recreate it. Chop finely, add items, and drench with dressing, put one olive on top. In fact, if you want to make it yourself, here's the recipe. 

But La Scala is one of those chic Beverly Hills eateries that is very status conscious. How you are treated, especially by the host, depends on how important they think you are. I must say that has always bothered me. I never feel I’m considered important enough for them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone and was offered the worst table in the place, despite the fact that the room was half-empty at the time. Either I get push-back that the other tables were reserved or they begrudgingly move me.

No attempt is ever made to make me feel comfortable. And I often think to myself, “It’s just a fucking chopped salad. I can buy a Vegematic and make one just like it myself.”

They have a seating policy where they will only seat you when all members of your party are present. That’s kind of bullshit but okay. If you say another person is coming then 99% of the time they actually do. Why inconvenience the person who arrived first by having to stand in their tiny crowded waiting area? Who knows?  He may even order a drink or appetizer while he's waiting.  But that’s their policy. Whatever.

It’s not a large restaurant. One long room with comfortable booths along the walls and two rows of small tables down the center of the room. Obviously, the booths are coveted. When I go I always get there at noon so they’re still available – and then have to plead with the host who instead wants to seat me next to the host stand where seven people can stand over me while I eat.

Recently, a writer friend and I were taking our friend Liz there for her birthday. Liz arrived first, said it was a party of three. I arrived a few minutes later and Liz asked if we could be seated? It was her birthday. The martinet host pointed to their “policy.” Even the other waiting customers gave him shit. “Come on, it’s her birthday. Set her up.” Bowing to pressure the host begrudgingly sat us at a booth. A few minutes later our third party arrived and joined us. The waiter announced that he wouldn’t serve him.

WHAT?!

They don’t serve “guests” and we were a party of two. We said, no, we were a party of three. He said that was impossible because they never seat incomplete parties. We explained the circumstances. It should be down on his list that we’re a party of three. He checked, the host hadn’t entered it so we were obviously liars.

He also kept insisting it wasn’t him, it was the “policy.” I said that was bullshit. These aren’t FAA safety rules. It was a matter of accommodating customers. He would have none of it.

I said I wanted to speak to the manager. This high-strung very young waiter said he was the floor manager. I told him they were going to lose a longtime customer over this to which he replied, “I don’t take kindly to threats!” Things got heated quickly after that and I said we were leaving. People at other tables were cheering us. Guess I’m not their only customers who finds their attitude off-putting.

Before leaving I asked for the real manager’s card. I was given the number of the corporate office. We went down the street to Porta Via, one of the ten other restaurants on the same block and had a lovely meal.

When I got home I called the number, got some woman who intercepted my call and wanted to know the nature of my complaint. I said I wanted to speak to the head guy myself, not have her relay it. She took down my contact info and said he would call me.

That was about a week ago. He’s never called. So I say, FUCK THEM. How many times over fifteen years of doing this blog have I specifically suggested you avoid a restaurant or hotel or anywhere? Answer: This is the first.

Telling this story to a friend last night he said, when his father-in-law was near death but felt well enough to go out for the first time in months they took him to La Scala where not only did they not seat him, they made him stand – an 80 year old man with stage four cancer. Needless to say, my friend now also boycotts the place.

Judging by all the one star reviews in Yelp, we're obviously not alone.  

So to repeat:AVOID LA SCALA.  Tell your friends and have them avoid La Scala.

There are twenty other Italian restaurants in Beverly Hills. And it's just a fucking chopped salad. 

76 comments :

slgc said...

Give 'Em Hell Ken!

Honest Ed said...

Ha! It's the only restaurant I've been to in BH. We actually got a decent table, and I know I'm not that important...

It was alright. Not great not bad. Even the salad.

But their conduct sounds really bizarre and they deserve it.

John Jones said...

Are you sure you weren't at Fawlty Towers?

Andrew said...

This is one of the rare times where I feel a boycott is actually deserved. Kudos, Ken. Hopefully your blog post will "go viral."

On a lighter note, there was a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode (from season 9 I think) that included a restaurant scene just like this. Larry wasn't allowed to seated until his entire party was present. So he asked a stranger to pretend to be a member of his party. The "sit in" guest turned out to be a wannabe actress who was hoping this would be her big break. It was very funny.

Is this an L.A. thing? Because I have never heard of such a policy anywhere else in the country. But I don't usually eat out at fancy places.

Tossed Salad said...

It sounds awful, but it begs the question why you kept going back over the years when you knew you'd be treated badly each time.

As someone who's had to complain about shitty service, my tip is never to phone but always to try and find the email address of the person at the top and email them directly. Invariably you'll get a reply either from that person or one of their secretaries, though sometimes they'll ignore a direct email too.

Barry Traylor said...

How in Hell does this place stay in business? Are people stupid?

Jim, UK said...

Buy the place next door like Larry David did

Anonymous said...

May we still go to their takeout location in Santa Monica? It is a very good salad

Mike said...

"very status conscious" - who gets the best seats? Actors, celebrities, studio dicks, agent pimps....

Fuck them Ken.

Unknown said...

I think that you need to add "It's Just a Fucking Chopped Salad" into the headline. Great piece Ken.

Also, why don't you tag them on Twitter?

normadesmond said...

I'd prefer you tell us what you really think.

Richard Pryor said...

How can this be in an industry as competitive as the restaurant business? Is this a secret society of masochists that are the customers? I'm always amazed that seemingly successful and intelligent people put up with this slime ball behavior. Good for calling them out, Ken, but what took you so long?

David said...

More like La Scathing, am I right? Ken, you are always a good read on a myriad of topics. I appreciate you sharing your writing gifts with us.

Anonymous said...

Great for calling them out.
Cheers
Telly

Mike Doran said...

This reminds me of Calvin Trillin's prototypical highfalutin' restaurant:
La Maison De La Casa House.
(Always got a laugh from Johnny Carson's audience back in the day …)

I'll call one on myself:
I almost called him the late Calvin Trillin.
I looked him up, and it turns out he's still alive.
Always look things up.

Janet said...

You should call the health department and complain about the rats in the kitchen. ;)

stephen catron said...

Wait, so you go there, knowing their rules or policies, then complain about their policies. Sorry, but they're not the bad guy in this story.

kent said...

The reason some restaurants won't seat the party until everyone is present is because they know that you won't order your meals until the last person arrives, which means that you will remain at the table for an inordinate amount of time when what they want is a quicker turnover.
Beyond that, their behavior was despicable and they should suffer the consequences. I promise to avoid them.

Anonymous said...

Boycotting La Scala is easy for me since I live in SF.

I would never, ever suggest that readers of this blog who support Ken's position go to La Scala's page on Google Maps and leave a 1-star review. Never would I suggest that.

Dave said...

Replying to Barry Traylor's question, Are people stupid?

I am slightly amazed you need to ask this question. Just look around you. Or read a newspaper.

(Yes, I know nobody reads newspapers. What is the appropriate reference? Read some Tweets? Scope out Instagram? Gleap the Appsmosphere? Gee, now I feel stupid!)

Sean said...

1. Sounds like a graceless judgmental place so right call Ken. And at the end of the day it's just a restaurant so forget them.


2. High level snobbery in Beverly Hills? Who would've ever thought?

3. From what I've heard about LA it's a HIGHLY status conscious place. If that's the case then, presumably, it's not about the salad but being seen eating the salad, or tweeting about eating it, food pics, etc. Best to be free of all that.

Long and short of it--Good call.


Sean

Tossed Salad said...

Terry Jones RIP

blinky said...

Are you sure you didn't actually go to the restaurant in Fawlty Towers?

David said...

Boycotting is too simple and easy on them. They wont care.

Think bigger Ken like Larry David.

Paul G said...

Oh yes, lunch in Beverly Hills can be an experience. I remember taking my elderly mother who was suffering from Alzheimer's to lunch at one of the fine establishments on Canon. She was not dressed according to their standards I guess, or perhaps she was too old and they were worried that the producers eating there would be put off by seeing an actual old person. Of course, it could have been that fact that I was not dressed all in black or actually daring to let my graying hair show that caused the problem, but in any event, we could not have been treated with more contempt and disdain. We would have left but the work of getting her out and into another restaurant was too much. I do remember the food was good, however.

thomas tucker said...

Bravo- time to call these places out on their bullshit. Especially when you can go to Dan Tana's instead.

VincentS said...

Sorry you had such a bad experience, Ken. No excuse for such behavior. I'll pass the boycott on, even though I doubt any of my LA friends were to dine in such an upscale place anyway. Some of them might even be on the waiting staff!

Bob Paris said...

The recipe sounded great so my wife and I checked the fridge and it turns out we had all the ingredients except one. I ran down to the market, expecting her to be working on the salad while I was gone. Got home and found out that she had done nothing. When I asked her about it, she replied that she could not start chopping until all ingredients were present.

Tom said...

Why would you keep going there?
(Or in the words of Alvy Singer:
"Boy, the food at this place is really terrible."
"Yeah, I know, and such small portions.")

Jay Thurber said...

I don't know, man, Wendy's makes a perfectly decent salad. And I'll bet La Scala doesn't have Frostys or a drive-through lane.

myrna said...

Ken- Your experience reminds me of the book "Garlic and Sapphires"- a memoir by former NY Times Food Critic, Ruth Reichl. She got very different treatment when she visited 4-star Le Cirque incognito- a dowdy woman alone, wearing her mother's old clothes- than when she dined with NY Times higher-ups-who were recognized as a VIP party. Her dining experiences couldn't have been more different. She ended up with two reviews and took away their 4th star.
https://apnews.com/4a50cd15f862e6bdfb51c3a1260b15b6

Also, as others have pointed out,your experience could have been straight out of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." There was an older episode when Larry paid an aspiring actress to pretend she was in his party so he wouldn't have to stand around and wait for a late guest in order to be seated. (same seating policy as your place.) And just now the hilarious premiere episode of Season 10- Larry boycotts a popular coffee shop from which he had been banned. And because he is Larry, he seeks revenge by buying the business next door to open a competing coffee shop with lower prices.

Unknown said...

It isn't uncommon for groups not to be seated until they are complete. Never seen a place that was really strict.
But your story, awful. I will never go there, but I'm not a robot.

Matt said...

How much do they charge for the chopped salad? I assume the prices are outrageous. If the food is average why do people go there? Is it just to be seen? LA has plenty of good resteraunts.

J Lee said...

They get away with it because they can, because being assholes has become part of the restaurant's identity, and they've reached a certain level of status to where they can do that and people will simply take it and then come back for more. It's sort of the upscale version of the Soup Nazi episode of "Seinfeld" -- of course, if they quality of food (or at least the salad) declines and/or one of the staff manages to tick off the wrong person with the wrong words and sparks a social media backlash, all the Beverly Hill cachet in the world might not save them.

Chris said...

I know it's highly doubtful they will respond, but if they do, would you please let us know?

Brian said...

So many mentions about Larry David. Which episode is that? I can't get the answer from Google. So many different searches, nothing.

Chris said...

Ken, sounds like they just don’t like you! Go across the street. Plenty of other overpriced restaurants all over BH

Lemuel said...

@Tom: "This food is inedible muck and there's not enough of it!"
-Sir Henry of Rawlinson End

Mike Bloodworth said...

Little Tony's is looking better and better. (Inside joke)
M.B.

myrna said...

STETSON CHOPPED SALAD Scottsdale AZ- Here's the recipe for this famous chopped salad that is more complicated to prepare at home, but fun. We've made it a few times for guests. Hardest part was to gather the ingredients- the puffy dried sweet corn was hard to find in New Jersey. It also took a bit of effort to assemble the salad ingredients in straight vertical lines, but we worked together and it came out great. Here is The Stetson Salad from "Cowboy Caio" in Scottsdale AZ; you can present it in straight vertical lines on individual plates with dressing on the side (diner's choice whether to toss it all together with dressing or enjoy it as is. Or you can present it all on a big platter (serves 2 for main dish; 4 for salad course) with the ingredients separated into vertical lines; then toss it all together with the dressing while everybody watches.

https://www.keyingredient.com/recipes/10822199/cowboy-ciao-stetson-chopped-salad/

Anonymous said...

There are so many better Italian restaurants nearby.

I had no choice but to go there because the snob in charge of our group picked it and then deliberately set it up so that his minions were at the table where he held court and those of us who had somehow not passed the rigid requirements of his social acceptance test were seated elsewhere. I know this because it has happened in other venues. This is a very "important" person who, while appearing low key and unassuming, cannot abide anyone who doesn't fawn and agree with everything he says.

The food was overpriced and average snoot fare.

Yes, LA and Hollywood in particular are very class conscious. There are also homeless people by the thousands living in makeshift tents along the road.

The people whose "hearts go out to them and all the oppressed" especially when on camera and accepting awards, pass them every day in their expensive cars. They can't save them all, that is true. But they could not care less about anything but themselves when they do the publicly hurtful things they do to the "lesser humans." A lesser rejection perhaps, but thoughtless and hypocritical.

This message is not from a red hat.

YEKIMI said...

Fuck-ups aren't limited to high-scale restaurants alone. I usually go to fast food places for the simple fact that my time is valuable and I'm usually running from one job to another. Used a Wendy's that was in between places that I jump back and forth from and used the drive-thru. 3 days in a row they fucked up my order so had to get out of the car and go in for them to correct it. Third time I blew up. Asked them what was the point of them having a drive-in when I have to come in and have to have them un-fuck my order. Demanded to speak to a manager. "She's not available." "Then let me speak to whomever's in charge." "No". was their response. Demanded my money back and sent a lengthy email to the franchise owner. Never heard back from them. So, I now boycott Wendy's. There's an Arbys and a Mcdonald's across the street from them and I'll drive out of my way to go to another non-Arby's/McDonalds. Guess who's getting my business now? [Not the first time, they fucked up stuff. A few years ago, I kept track of how many times they screwed up my order. Out of 30 times I was there, they screwed it up 27 times.] Granted, they're not high end restaurants but I wouldn't put up with shit either a low or high end place of business.

Cap'n Bob said...

I promise I will never eat there for as long as I live.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me, but I knew someone who'd had dinner at the revolving restaurant atop Seattle's Space Needle. On his way out he was discreetly handed a card that said, basically, you didn't spend enough so don't come back.

Dixon Steele said...

This Yelper didn't exactly love their trip to La Scala

Last night was a disappointing evening at Scala. The food was delicious but the service terrible. Starting with th overlay made up, drama queen host was straight out of central casting for surly service industry employee. Pathetic. It ruined our date night out. Our server Carlos was dismissive, inattentive and lacking the attention to detail we enjoyed at this restaurant before. Hbately came our table, brought a cold bottle of Pinot and never placed it in an ice bucket. We finally asked a server from another table. We had to ask other servers to refill our sparkling water glasses. We had to ask other servers to clear our plates as well ask them for the dessert menu. He finally showed up before the bill bbt it was too little too late. This ruined our evening at La Scala.

Unknown said...

I have lived out here for 100 years now and never gone to La Scala. And now I never shall! Plus salad gets stuck in my teeth. Miriam T.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I'll be sure to put it in my places to avoid list (and pass that info on to any friends).

That is, if I ever get down to actually visiting L.A. AKA San Andreas ground zero. I'm deathly afraid of stepping into a potentially earth-shattering quake zone such as California - no offense. The closest I've been to is Vegas.

myrna said...

Ken- the management should be forced to read the customer reviews on OpenTable. Many, very many, too many complaints about the service, not the food or the prices. Rude host, indifferent unprofessional wait staff. These reviews are all recent, and word will get around. Not good for business.

Pete Wells, restaurant reviewer for the NY Times wrote a devastating review of Thomas Keller's pricey 4-star NY restaurant Per Se, He visited several times incognito with a group of friends. And I'm sure that many people, ourselves included, read this review, which had gone viral, and decided against celebrating a special occasion by splurging on a meal that would cost $500-$800 for two. Indifferent service and uninspired even foul tasting food. No thank you.

Anonymous said...

I've been at ratty New York diners that have that same weird seating policy.... I don't know about anyone else, but especially if I'm waiting for someone, I'll order a drink and something to nosh on so it can't be, as one poster said, that they won't make revenue until the rest of the party shows up. I don't understand the whole 'not seated until your whole party arrives". It's especially hilarious when the restaurant is half empty. Since there are roughly ten billion restaurants in New York City, I usually choose to eat elsewhere if any place makes such a stink over a customer. But, re: La Scala, you're just adding to their mystique. Americans in particular love to be treated poorly and then complain about it .... so telling people how bad of an experience you had makes people, I think, secretly want to go there. You've probably done them a favor, actually.

Matt said...

I don’t know what a chopped salad is. But this inspired me to put someTed Leaf Lettuce, Carrots, and Cucumber Into my food processor and pulse it. I made my own vinegar and oil dressing (3 parts oil to one part vinegar with salt, black pepper and dried red peppers added.). I don’t know if it is authentic, but it is pretty good. I would spend $7 on it in a resteraunt.

Latte Larry said...

You should open an identical restaurant next door and drive them out of business.

Gene Renaker said...

Unfortunately, your recent experience at La Scala appears to be quite typical; the Yelp comments are damning. I've never been, and now, I never will. Thanks, Ken.

Carol Ann Cocke said...

So GLAD you did this! I had a similar experience there years ago, and swore I'd never go back. It's just a damn salad, albeit, a good one. Anyway, get the word out. Too many people don't believe yelp reviews because sometimes they are just written by disgruntled employees. You rock!

Glenn Eibe said...

Looks like Ken knows what to do with those Chopped Salads and Scrambled Eggs

...They're calling again...

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Wow, that's what I call a bad experience Ken. Glad you're exposing their snobbery.

At the other end of the culinary scale :-)... there's a Popeye's near where I work in Garden Grove that's not in the greatest neighborhood, and oftentimes by the time you can get to their drive-thru speaker (there's always a line in the drive-thru at Popeye's), the workers there are so busy it can take several minutes for them to get to the speaker and ask for your order.

BUT... I've always been patient and nice. And the result is that I've always gotten 7 or 8 spicy tenders, instead of just 5, and extra sauces at no charge. (Yes, Popeye's side sauces are so popular, they can charge for them.)

PS, no it's not worth the hubbub and violence that was reported a while ago, but Popeye's chicken sandwich really IS fantastic.

Mike Barer said...

A few years ago, I had a terrible experience with a car rental place at the LA Airport, I wrote a bad review about it. They answered and apologized and gave us a refund. I kept the review, but amended it to reflect the way the handled it to fix the problem, so really, I think that is where you should write about it.
Oh, I blog about bad experiences, too.

Jack Ryan said...

Yeah, I know it's a terrible restaurant that serves horrible food!

Regards,
Kevin

Dick Lankish said...

You want or a need a good chopped salad?...Go to Maggianos!...Much better, bigger and priced much lower...

MikeKPa. said...

So, I see this going one of three ways: 1) an apologetic manager calls you and offers his best booth for the following Saturday night; 2) you're banned for life (a la Soup Nazi); or 3) it's center table for you forever, even if the place is empty.

Mike Flynn said...

I don't travel to LA much, but next time you're up here for a Mariners game ring me up and I'll take you to one of thousands of places in Seattle that don't make jerks of themselves.

blogward said...

Today's business model: frontline staff are given authority but no discretion, and those responsible for implementing the inflexible, inadequate corporate policy hide behind a phonewall. Could have been worse, Ken, you could have gone to Trump Tower.

Tossed Salad said...

Best ever parody of upscale and arrogant restaurants was this scene in The Simpsons. Pure gold.

https://youtu.be/svaMLcDU664

Anonymous said...

Long time reader of the your blog. Been in the hospitality game for over 30 years, managed hotels and resorts. Not serving a "guest"? Everyone's a fucking guest otherwise they'd be washing dishes, serving food or cooking it while looking over their shoulder for ICE agents. Pure BS attitude. You know several other people who won't go back and that continues to grow and before you know it they're advertising early bird specials on shopper dockets. I know, an institution, won't happen. Not overnight, but generally it catches up with everyone when they forget the hospitality part of the business.
cheers
Dave
PS enjoy all the other great restaurants around your city!

Mibbitmaker said...

Sounds like a worse place than even the restaurant that Sam showed up Diane in!

Sometimes, even a basic eatery can give terribly bad service - in a CARTOON!

This is how I like to portray the final scene from Tex Avery's "Jerky Turkey" (emphasis mine):

Once again, the running gag of a bear wearing a signboard saying, EAT AT JOE'S
Turkey: "You'll never catch me, so why don't we eat at Joe's?"
Pilgrim: "Alright, we'll eat at Joes."
The follow the bear, sign: EAT AT JOE'S
They enter eatery bearing sign: JOE'S
Major tussle inside.
Dramatic music sting.
Bear exiting, back of shirt: I'M JOE!
Inside-bear's stomach view.
Pilgrim & turkey, show sign: DON'T EAT AT JOE'S!

Mike Bloodworth said...

I was going to day that it almost sounds like an episode of "Frasier."
M.B.

Jahn Ghalt said...

One of my many personal pet peeves is arbitrary nonsense supported by "policy". Worse is arbitrary nonsense supported by a "managers" sense-of-power.

I'm glad to say this didn't occur in my home state - but in Denver. My cohort was recently made to wait at a half-full pub because the "open" half was segregated by the manager from the empty half.

On our way out I played the A$$#oLE and criticised him for the segregation. He then played a pussy move. Actually it was a pussy expression - that he would be justified to "call the police for being aggressive".

This was a first in my experience, but then I don't get out much.

Jahn Ghalt said...

@Andrew,

This is assuredly not an "LA Thing" - a local, very-well-established (est. 1955), not-fancy, burger and chicken place has a similar policy to only seat complete parties. I've never challenged it and note that they have two counters where you can sit and wait for your stragglers (save a place, don't you know).

One thing I'll say for this place - they mind their P's and Q's - they are so responsive that your order almost shows up before you order it - fries too hot to handle (use a fork).

Jahn Ghalt said...


We all have seen negative online reviews - many times indifferent, incompetent, and/or forgetful servers are cited. There is little excuse for rudeness - here are excerpts at Google Reviews within the last three weeks:


...the rudest staff I ever encountered, two of us went there for lunch, we sat down in a booth that accommodates at least 4 people, once we ordered our lunch we received a call from a business associate that wanted to join us for lunch, he expressed that he was 5 minutes away, we asked the waiter to bring an extra salad for our business associate, the waiter said the we "don't allow joiners" what is a joiner we asked, no one can join you for lunch once you are seated...


They lost our reservation and that alone would have been understandable, but as we were trying to figure out what on earth happened, they quite literally shoved us aside to accommodate all the people that came in after us, not even acknowledging when we really just asked ‘can you accommodate us or should we go elsewhere?’ A yes or no would have sufficed. I’ve never been anywhere so rude in my life.

Dinwar said...

I have had similar experiences at a few restaurants in LA/LA County. At one it was so bad that we had a bus boy waiting on us, and the manager had to give us the bill, because the waitress was too busy trying to flirt for tips from the legal interns a few tables down (dressed in suits, but with $20 between them, so good luck with that!). My wife worked as a waitress for a while, and not infrequently tracked down managers to complain. My take on this was more straight-forward: if the waiter/waitress couldn't be bothered to take my order in a timely manner, I'd finish my drink, pay for it, leave, and never come back.

I don't know what it is, but restaurants in LA County are really bad about this. I've been in a lot of places for my job, and LA is the worst when it comes to bad service.

marka said...

I went to a place in Tucson a few days ago to meet a friend and was fifteen minutes early. I told them I’d wait for my friend on the bench near the door. They insisted on seating me, and were very nice about it. But I doubt important Hollywood people ever go there, that must be the difference.

Joe Cip said...

Wow - So bummed they have treated you badly there, that’s just not right. Ann and I rarely sit in booths, we usually pop in and eat at the bar at the back of the room. Very personable and lovely bartenders. I DO love that chopped salad LOL but at night, the white fish is fantastic. BTW Ken, you can also get that same chopped salad at Emilio’s in Encino. Former La Scala person does the same salad at a his location that is not related to La Scala :-)

Doug Dunlap said...

I went there once, Ken, years ago. The most arrogant staff I ever encountered. I never went again.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I've encountered places where they insist on everyone being there to seat you (I usually suggest leaving to go elsewhere; now that everyone has a mobile phone reassembling in a new location is easy), but never one that had a rule against an unexpected extra joining. Perhaps they only take your reservation after they've done a full background and check - like the fancy restaurant in Steve Martin's L.A. STORY.

There used to be a Chinese restaurant in London where the waiters were spectacularly rude all the time. The food was good - and inexpensive - and they were in the West End and very efficient at getting you out in time for the theater. Cash only, as I recall. Everyone in London knew about it; you only had to say, "That place where they're so rude" and everyone knew you meant the Wong Kei on Wardour Street. I believe a few years ago the place was acquired and the rudeness cleaned up and now I don't know anyone who goes there any more.

I liked that place. Sometimes, it's nice to go somewhere where *you* don't have to be polite either. The difference, though, was that they weren't snobs and didn't treat anyone with contempt. They were just *busy*, so shouting, "You! Sit there! What you want?" was their general MO. Utterly without pretensions.

wg

Jeff Maxwell said...

I recently dined at a popular restaurant on a Saturday. Arrived at 4:30 for Happy Hour with my wife and two friends. We were seated at one of many empty tables. We ordered lots of Happy drinks, a barrel of guac, a ton of Happy Hour food and were having a great time. The place filled up by 5:45. At 5:50, a guy comes over and tells us "time’s up, you only get an hour and a half," and we need to vacate the table immediately.

What?

I tell him we’re almost through anyway. He tells us the table is reserved and we need to go. I tell him nobody ever told us of any time limit, there’s no signage anywhere, none of us signed any contract. He says we need to go. I tell him to call the police as we’re not going anywhere until we’re through with our meal. My friend chooses to negotiate and asks what the guy's going to do for us.

Long story short, he comps the $180 meal and let’s us stay as long as we want. We stayed another ten minutes and went somewhere else for dessert and an nice Port.

Right is right.

slgc said...

Have you heard back from La Scala in response to this post?

Unknown said...

You should have went to the Hungry Heifer!

Derek said...

What's the point of calling them once if you're not prepared to call them every day until they comp you something? I wouldn't bother bitching to a shitty restaurant that I have no intention of giving more of my money to unless I was hoping to get something out of it.