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“I Hate Bar Tabac”
I guess the title of this piece says it all, but I do feel the need to elaborate on my distaste (perhaps hate is too strong a word, but it is effective) for this overhyped “restaurant.”
You see, I live down the block from Bar Tabac, a wannabe faux French bistro owned by the same folks that own Jules, Café Noir and Cercle Rouge, that recently and unfathomably to me, was voted best neighborhood bistro in the Time Out Awards. This place may be a bistro and it may be in a neighborhood but it is the farthest thing from a neighborhood bistro I’ve ever encountered.From where I sit, which is just a few yards from this hellacious restaurant’s front doors, it’s a rude, self-important, obnoxious cave (with al fresco seating) for French ex-pats and ubiquitous hipsters in the Brooklyn area.
I’ve been living down the block from Bar Tabac for over a month now and not once has anyone smiled as I have walked by (I smile), not once has anyone nodded hello. Perhaps I am spoiled because my old corner restaurant was Casa Mono where the staff there became like family to me. At Tabac, that’s not the case, but that’s okay. There’s no rule that says you’ve gotta smile at the neighbors.
What I find so horrific about this restaurant is not even the food, which, from what I have tasted, ain’t half bad. They serve a decent omelet, some great merguez and baked eggs, a wonderful fat juicy cheddar burger on an onion brioche roll, and excellent fries. That’s been the extent of my eating at Bar Tabac because I cannot bear to eat there one more meal. Not even just coffee. This is because of the service. The collection of incompetent misfits they have assembled here as “waiters” are not only unfriendly and clueless, they are potentially the worst wait staff in the five boroughs, if not the country. Based on my visits to the restaurant, this is what I believe the Bar Tabac Employee Training Manual says:
Welcome to Bar Tabac! You've been chosen because you're thin, pretty, speak French (or at least speak with a French accent) and have never waited on tables before. Congratulations! Please review the following guidelines before you begin work!
1. Greeting Guests: When a couple walks into the restaurant to be seated, ignore them for at least 10 minutes, preferably 15. Turn your back to them as soon as possible. Then amuse yourself by playing with your hair, checking out your manicure, or just staring out into space. Do not under any circumstances pay attention to them before 10 minutes have passed. Anyone who is found to seat guests without making them wait at least ten minutes will be docked one of their 47 cigarette breaks per shift.
2. Seating Guests: Make sure to seat people in the back room, or right next to a large party even when the restaurant is completely empty. In no event should you offer an outdoor table unless it is begged for, and in no event are you to seat a couple on a banquette with empty tables on either side. Put people right on top of each other. The more uncomfortable the better! Those waiters who succeed in this goal will be awarded two extra cigarette breaks.
3. Taking Orders: No order should be taken until the couple is straining their necks wondering where their waiter is. If they are experiencing something close to whiplash, that’s even better! The general waiting period should be 10-15 minutes, no less! Take a drink order first and then refuse to take a meal order until you return with their drinks. But wait, there’s more! You must forget to bring their drinks, and instead, play with your hair, stare into space, or chat with other servers with your back to the room. You must wait until they call you over and ask where their drinks are before you bother to even submit their orders.
4. Serving Beverages: Make sure to hold the glasses with your fingers inside the lips of the glasses. Do not use a tray. Then drop the glasses on the table so that at least a little bit of beer or wine spills out. Do not wait to see if your table needs anything. Turn and play deaf to their calls for bread and butter.
5. Serving Food: Yes we know the tables are small, but that's the point. They’re French café tables and they look cute and that’s the important part. So there’s usually not enough room for the food with the water glasses, wine glasses, beers, bread baskets, and all. Do not attempt to make room for the dinner plates when serving food. Merely drop the plate in front of the guest so it bangs into their wine or beer glasses and hopefully spills some on their pathetic wanna-be hipster outfits. Do not apologize. Turn and walk away confidently and return to what you were doing (texting, chatting, staring at a cute boy/girl are all acceptable work activities).
6. Checking Back: Do not ever under any circumstances return to the table to see if there’s anything else the guest may need, like another glass of wine, a beer, another napkin, or some more ketchup for their burgers and fries. Ignore all eye contact with guests at all times!
7. Dropping the Check: When you drop the check, if the table looks disgusted, you’ve done a stellar job! Wait at least 10 minutes before dropping the check. Hopefully you’ve added wrong or perhaps mistakenly charged them for an extra beer or something and they won’t notice. Do not tell tables that we only take American Express until they've been waiting with their Visa or Mastercard for some time. Only then will you inform them of our exclusive Amex policy.
Now you can give the table a bit smile big and say, Thank you! That will insure a great tip for your wonderful service. Bon Chance!
Bar Tabac is located at 128 Smith Street, corner of Dean. I'd suggest that you do not ever eat here.
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