One of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld involves the gang trying to get a table at a Chinese restaurant. They put their name on A list and, after being informed a table would open up in “Five, ten minutes”, they proceed to wait – and wait…and wait. At one point, a guy breezes in, walks right past them and, after exchanging pleasantries with the manager, is immediately seated. This prompts the following exchange –
Jerry: Excuse me… we’ve been waiting here. Now, I KNOW we were ahead of that guy, he just came in.
Bruce: Oh no, Mr. Cohen always here.
Well, pretty much the same thing happened to Akemi and I today at Bar Buca in Toronto. We arrived a little before noon and the place was hopping. There was no manager in sight, so we took up position at the front and waited. About ten to twelve minutes go by when a family walked in – mother, father, and young son. Suddenly, the hitherto M.I.A. manager magically appeared to warmly greet the woman who stepped in front of us to announce her presence. The manager informed her the wait wouldn’t be long and that a table would open up shortly. As the family shuffled off to the side, the manager stepped up and informed me it would be a 30 to 40 minute wait. I couldn’t help but point out that we were there first to which he replied the woman had put her name down first – this despite the fact that he greeted her like a long lost friend he hadn’t seen in ages. And, no, she couldn’t have called ahead because that would be contrary to the restaurant’s “walk-ins only” policy clearly mentioned on their website.
Rather than argue, we left and I’ve scratched Bar Buca off my go-to list. I’ll never go back. At the end of the day, there are dozens of other brunch places in Toronto (and I’ll happily recommend some better ones if you’re ever in town). Their “favorites to the front of the line” behavior also ensures I’ll never again set foot in their big sister Buca, formerly my go-to place whenever I’d host out of town guests and, up until this morning, my choice for our season 3 cast dinner.
Time to expand my culinary horizons!