Me and a group of kids tried to go to Barceloneta last night. That's the new PubBelly venture on 20th Street on the Beach...
I mean, we went... and we had eleventeen white sangrias at the bar (which were delicious!) and which were served by friendly, speedy bar-staff... but we never got to the food.
Why, you ask?
Because, despite arriving at the restaurant when it was EMPTY except for the outdoor portion, at about 8:30 p.m., the Hostess couldn't figure out how to seat a part of four.
We were the first name on the list and asked to be sat outside, and an hour and ten minutes later, as the restaurant went from empty to full, and as we watched tables outside turn over, we were STILL at the bar... waiting for our table.
"You should have made a reservation!" you crow. We tried. They don't take 'em -- it's "first come, first served," but that's with a caveat - it's "first come, first served" if your party happens to be a party of three. We were a party of four. Every outdoor table appears to be a "three-top" which is a pretty weird size for a table. (They're actually two-tops, with an extra chair dragged over.)
The hostess, even knew our party's name by the end of the evening, and at one point (shortly before we gave up), while I was standing near her station (away from the bar), ratcheting my jaw off the floor, after watching her seat two three-tops that had come AN HOUR AFTER WE HAD PUT OUR NAME IN, she came up to me, asked me if I was with the "___" party, and on my confirmation that yes, I was, and assured me that tables were leaving and we would be the next table sat.
Ordinarily, this would have been reassuring, except that we had heard this same spiel several times -- notably when we got to the restaurant. An hour before. When it was empty. So, it was bullshit.
Fifteen minutes after that happened, we threw in the towel and went to PubBelly. Which is delicious, but I later realized was owned by the same guy as Barceloneta, so it's not like my business went "elsewhere," I just went to a different restaurant of his. That annoyed me. But I love Pubbelly.
Here's my take on Barceloneta - maybe I'll try again. But I'm not sure, actually. It almost felt like we were being profiled, which was the reason we weren't sat -- since we weren't cougary Latins with obscenely-plumped lips and dry, overprocessed blonde hair, and since I wasn't wearing boot-cut jeans with sparkly rhinestones on the pockets and pointy douchebag shoes. (People fitting that description were sat.)
I know they were open for like two days before we got there. But seating people is like...the easiest part of a meal. And the fact that they were so cavalier about that -- because if we didn't eat at Barceloneta, we would have likely overflowed to another one of the restaurants owned by the same group (which is exactly what happened) left me with a delicious taste in my mouth (Pubbelly) but with heartburn.