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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The John Dopy

To be perfectly frank (if you'll be Barbra), some things just really burn my cork. When Baby, Ace, ID and I went to The John Dory restaurant (the latest offering from The Spotted Pig folks), it didn't go so swimmingly. And although I love John Dory, the fish, The John Dory is not off the hook.

I'm not talking about the food. I don't know about the food, none of us do. We never got to try the food. We never had the chance! No, I'm not talking about the food that I looked forward to, because I've always enjoyed The Spotted Pig. I'm talking about the friendly, idiotic, and beleaguered staff that wouldn't know a trout from a trollop and the subsequent mind-numbing matrix we were drawn into.

There was no chance at a last minute reservation we were told over the phone, but we could certainly sit at the oyster bar. I don't know if oyster bar should get caps or not and I don't care. So we show up and are told, yes the oyster bar is available, probably in about 30 minutes. Not such a bad wait. Name please? We're put on a list. In the meantime, the earnestly flighty hostess (or whatever position it is she holds) suggests to have drinks at the front bar while we may. Delighted! Off we went to the front bar. But ID and I didn't see Baby and Ace behind us trying to negotiate the stairs as a barback almost sent them spiraling down with a large (and apparently very heavy) tray of things from storage. So they didn't hear about this list and after recovering from the tray mishap went on back to the oyster bar, spying empty stools, looking for us. ID and I saw them though and tried to get their attention, commenting to one other that they were going to be sent out of there faster than a flying fish. And they were. Very rudely. Ace, above all else, detests anything indelicate. That and maybe a rare steak. She was already over the whole thing and wanted out.

Stools were clearing up at the cramped bar though and suggesting patience, we took seats and ordered a saving balm of cocktails. Are we on the list, the sweet bartendress asks. Yes, I reply. But she was inquiring about another list. As our drinks were poured and placed before us, that hostess spots us, leans in and tells us that we can't sit just now, the list of people privileged to sit at the bar hasn't gotten to us yet. What list? We were already on the oyster bar list and were told to sit at the bar while waiting. Yes sorry, we're informed, not sit, just stand. There is a wait for that too, a list to sit at the front bar before our names come up on the list to sit in the rear at the oyster bar. We must get back up and stand while people on the front bar list get a seat before being seated at the oyster bar and I hope by now you understand this includes all of us who didn't have a reservation to sit in the few paltry seats they have in the ridiculously designed space. You see, there is no place to stand at the bar or anywhere else! The seats are in the way! So you know what? We didn't stand for any of it at all. Exeunt omnes posthaste, our unpaid, untasted cocktails left sweating on the bar. What fresh fish is this?

In about two seconds though, it didn't matter. We went to halfsteak next door, the spacious, yet amiable lounge that serves as a (much cheaper) preface to Tom Colicchio's craftsteak in the back room, his restaurant proper. They were more than happy to seat us and we loved it. John Dopy who? They have the most gorgeous oyster shooters (we had several of them), with delicious sake, cubes of cucumber, and Meyer lemon. Martinis with floral Hendrick's gin! Fried oysters with smoked cole slaw and and an oyster roast with BBQ butter! They have a raw bar with a bounty of oysters just upon entering--and space to sit and talk. All of us were more than happy to get our oysters on here. John Dopy's got a fine nerve.

An arugula salad with parmesan was great with our burgers--the sliders with balsamic onions and truffled pecorino, and the halfsteak burger with hand cut fries. Gooey Monkey Bread with a petite ladle of creme fraiche was eaten quickly by those of us not dieting.

Both craftsteak and halfsteak have got to be worth double the investment and half the trouble, given the impenetrable mess, wholly incapable of any proper form of service upon entering The John Dory, only a few misguided steps away, next door.

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