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Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

Escondido's post speculates on things which we should be blamed for which didn't happen.

And once again, my problem is with the server's vindictive attitude, which is never warranted. Of all the replies here, no one has justified her behaviour.

The truth is, life happens. Who among us has never been late? The situation was unavoidable, and as stated more than once, we didn't ask for special treatment. If the restaurant is experienced, they should know enough not to seat a part of five at a table for six - and then cause a fuss. And inexperience I can forgive - vindictive rudeness not so much.

Nov 06, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

We walked out the door right around 7:15 - as a result of the request that we do so. There were no new customers in sight.

If there *had* been a sudden rush, we could have easily gotten up and left immediately. This is why I find the server's behaviour so inappropriate.

Nov 06, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

Wow - this thread has taken on a whole new life. Suddenly, we're all arriving late, making a commotion, disturbing other diners with our coats, and making multiple cell phone calls. Nice imagination.

Once again, the restaurant gave us a *choice* between a table for five (which would have avoided this entire controversy) and a table for six. We caused no fuss, communicated with the 5th person via text and were fairly quickly able to tell our server that we would indeed need the fifth seat, were all present (i.e., using five seats) by the time the restaurant had to turn one couple away, and were finished eating by the 7:15 deadline. It was with the restaurant half-empty and no sign of a further dinner rush that we were asked to leave.

If you enjoy poor customer service, you're welcome to it.

Nov 06, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

From what I remember, they are all deuces pushed together. In any event, a party of six could have been seated anywhere in the half-empty restaurant at 7:30.

Nov 06, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

Thanks for the replies and feedback. I neglected to mention one thing: we did not wait for the member of our group who was very late. We went ahead and ordered, and he ordered on his own once he arrived and had to rush a bit to finish. There was no waiting for someone to make a "grand entrance".

I've given this a lot of thought over the week and considered the comments here. I've also realized that customer service is perhaps more important to me than some; in my day job I spend a good deal of my time trying to accommodate clients with problems and difficult circumstances. With some thought and care, I find there is usually a win-win situation. I treat my clients with respect, without exception. People tend to appreciate a merchant who at least demonstrates an attempt to help them out.

Again, if Pomegranate is so busy that they have to limit people's visits, then they should seat a party of five at a table for five, not six. If they are going to give us a choice, they shouldn't be giving us a hassle. That was a strategic error on their part.

If my friend had not shown up at all, then the restaurant would have been well justified in being annoyed at the lost business, but that is not what happened. We quickly verified that he was coming, told the server, and were finished dinner in the allotted time. By then, one side of the restaurant was empty from - our table near the back right to the front window, and no, it was not reserved for a large party to come; the tables were simply re-set in twos and fours. The server's choice to then hassle us was unnecessary, and to me, clearly vindictive as our situation had annoyed her. It is with this final act of disrespect that I have a problem.

There is a clear difference between service without a smile - often encountered when servers are short-staffed and run off their feet - and unnecessarily treating your customers rudely. I notice many people on this board are willing to forgive the former in return for exceptional food; I sometimes do. But the latter I will not tolerate.

No restaurant is obliged to make an effort to accommodate a customers problems, but some do. I won't demand that of Pomegranate. But along those lines, I have recommended Pomegranate to many of my friends - something I am under no obligation to do. I won't be doing that any more - nor will I return.

Nov 04, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

Thanks - I did look for an email before I posted here, but there is none. I do intend to write a letter.

Nov 04, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Forced to Rush Through Dinner at Pomegranate (moved from Ontario board)

[NOTE FROM THE MODERATORS: even though the original post is about a local Toronto restaurant, all the replies are a discussion about the restaurant's behavior and etiquette, so we've moved it over here to the Not About Food board.]

We arranged a long-overdue reunion/dinner for five last Friday. This was for a dear group of friends, and I wanted everything to be just right, so I suggested Pomegranate, which has long been one of my favourite restaurants. It didn't take much convincing, as I've raved about the food there off and on for so long, and all of my friends were eager to try it. It's been a while - over a year - since I'd been there, but I only have good memories of eating there, and one of my Iranian friends agrees it's very good.

We made a reservation for five at 5:00, and were told we could have the table only until 7:15.

Four of us arrived between 5:00 and 5:30, but got the bad news that our fifth person was delayed at work and might come late, or not at all. This is when the problem started. The woman serving us (who I believe is the owner or owner's wife) said the two extra seats at our table were needed, and she wanted to move us to a table for four. We said the fifth person might still show up, but she said we couldn't have the extra seats if not, because the restaurant does fill up and it would mean her having to turn people away. I've worked in restaurants before, and I do understand this situation, but she was not very accommodating and there was an unpleasant tension over it.

Note: I found out later from my friend who made the reservation that the person on the phone had said we could have a table for four with a fifth seat on the end, or a table for six. As it's getting colder and everyone has heavier coats, naturally we'd asked for a table for six, as the extra seat would come in handy for coats and bags. But if filling to capacity is such an issue, why were we given a choice? I did notice that the restaurant did indeed fill up, and one couple was turned away.

We did finally get confirmation that our fifth person was on his way, and he showed up at 6:30. The poor guy had to order in a hurry and then wolf down his food - including receiving his dessert (saffron ice cream, which I've been raving about ever since I first had it at Pomegranate) at the same time as his main course.

We did manage to finish our meal by 7:15, although we had to really rush through dessert. By then, half of the restaurant had cleared and there was no sign of a second wave of diners. We were sitting at the back, and the entire row of tables on our side of the restaurant were now empty. But here's the kicker: as we were now relaxing and talking, our server comes by again and reminds us that the table has to be vacated by 7:15. With half the tables empty, we're still being rushed out?

I do have to say that the food did not disappoint. It was even better than I'd remembered; every mouthful was delicious. But the unpleasantness over the seating issue had me nervously watching the table occupancy the whole time I was eating, and the tension between the server and my friends didn't help. I saw one of my friends the following morning and found that she, too, had been left with a sour taste in her mouth from the whole experience. Granted, two+ hours should normally be ample for finishing a meal, but there was no attempt to accommodate our problematic circumstances.

So, dear foodies:
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? One of my friends recounted a similar experience elsewhere recently, of being given a deadline for vacating her table. Is this becoming the norm? Will you go to Pomegranate if you expect to be rushed?

As much as I *loved* the food, I don't think I will return.

Oct 31, 2011
bink in Not About Food

Pubs on Parliament with good food?

Not right on Parliament, but close to HOP and Ben Wicks, is The Underdown, just west on Gerrard (at Berkely). I was there for the first time in December and had the best pub food ever. Sliders with hand-cut root-vegetable fries; pita with hummus - standard appetizer - but the triangles of pita were *perfectly* toasted so that just the edges were crisp. I keep meaning to get back there.

Plus - an unexpected bonus:
There is nightly, live entertainment (folk music) from I think 10:00 PM. I usually avoid that at a pub, as I'm usually keen to chat with friends and not there to listen to music. But after serving the whole place all night, all by herself, the bartender finished up after last call and got up on stage with the other musicians and sang a couple of numbers. She had a lovely voice, and it really made our night.

Feb 23, 2011
bink in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

The Diner at the new Thompson Hotel

Some friends and I made a reservation for brunch at The Counter Sunday morning. We were interested in seeing the new hotel and wrongly assumed that a diner in such an upscale hotel chain would have to be good.

I arrived at 10 am. First of all, there are numerous entrances to the restaurant, and no signage indicating where to wait and whether to wait or simply be seated. There were a few tables occupied. I was looking for my friends and wandered from one end to the other and back but couldn't see my party. I could hear noise coming from a corridor and wondered if there was more than one section (there is not). But for the few minutes that I wandered back and forth or stood around wondering where to wait and who to speak to, no fewer than three employees saw me waiting but made no move to help me or even greet me.

I called my friends and found out that our reservation, for 10 people, was actually at noon (my mistake). I returned at noon to find the restaurant fairly busy. Again, I was unsure where to wait, but after a moment I did catch a server passing by, who I asked about our reservation. She referred me to another server who said he would set up a table for 10; I repeated that I already had a reservation, but it seems they lost it. He did seat me at the bar to get a drink while I was waiting for the table to be set up, which was considerate.

In the end, seven people in our party showed up. By 12:30 pm, we figured that no one else was coming, and so we placed our food orders... and the wait began. We watched one table nearby receive their food, eat, leave, and then another group get seated in the same spot, order, and receive their food. The server was apologetic and obviously felt badly about our long wait, but at one point she asked the kitchen how much longer our food would take and they refused to give her an answer! The server comped two glasses of orange juice which were ordered as the wait became embarrassing. We finally got our food 75 minutes after we ordered.

The food was nicely presented but mediocre (I didn't bother to finish my reuben). We all agreed that none of us will consider returning.

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The Counter
550 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

Jul 25, 2010
bink in Ontario (inc. Toronto)