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River Cafe Review!!

UK
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River Cafe Review!!

Hello all... I took my husband to River Cafe for his birthday on the 9th Sept... After booking it 3 months in advance and requesting a window table we were both very excited about it. When we arrived we were told that a window table was not available... we asked how long it would take for one to be made available and were told under an hour... so we sat at the bar drinking through the cocktail list!! An hour and half later we were told our table was ready (at this point we were starving!) we were then seated... away from the window!!! Our mood turned as we were very disappointed as we could have sat on the table and hour and half ago! I complained and was told that a regular came in and was seated in the table next to the window that we were going to be given. No apology and the metre de was very flippant so I called him back and told him that we were disgusted about them making us wait so long and someone coming in and being seated straight away.... he shrugged his shoulders and walked away. For an evening that was supposed to be very special it was ruined by the service we received. We did however enjoy the food and the waiters were lovely. We ordered our desert and a waiter came over and said we could eat them on a table next to the window!!!!! We didn’t move!! When we got the bill which was $270... We knocked off half the service charge. Only I checked my account and was charged the full $270.

Overall the food was lovely but our treatment by the metre de was awful and I personally would not go back again. We ate at Daniels a few days before and the food was divine... the service impeccable and for the same price... we would highly recommend Daniels to anyone... it was the high light of our dining experience in NY!!!

New York
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1,809 posts
4 reviews
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1. Re: River Cafe Review!!

I'm sorry about your bad experience.

RC is recommend here often as "the" special occasion restaurant.

I know i'll keep your review in mind before suggesting it.

At least you had a good experience at Dainel. I've never been but only heard great things about it.

Liverpool UK
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2,722 posts
1 review
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2. Re: River Cafe Review!!

How awful, personally i think RC is over rated. I have never tried Daniels, but have read some excellent reviews.

New York
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456 posts
1 review
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3. Re: River Cafe Review!!

Raj,definitely dispute the full charge with your credit card company right away.

Albany, New York
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for Albany
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2,314 posts
67 reviews
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4. Re: River Cafe Review!!

I can see not being able to get a window table, things happen. BUT getting a table you could have had an hour and half earlier, that's not right! It can be handled in a pretty easy manner. The apoligize, it was an oversight and then buy you dessert! Or after dinner drinks.

Danbury, Connecticut
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5,593 posts
81 reviews
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5. Re: River Cafe Review!!

Rajani,

First, I am sorry you had a bad experience. I often recommend Rver Cafe because it is beautiful, has gracious service, and although the food is not at Daniel level, it is good. Oh yes, and the view is pretty darn good too.

A couple things about expectations. No one is guaranteed a window seat. When I dined there for a special occaasion, I did not get one either. Yet, I found our table had a beautiful view anyway.

The host offered you a table in a timely fashion, you decided to decline it. That was your choice. It sounds like they tried to accommodate the window seat request at dessert and your choice was to decline it.

As for regulars getting preferential treatment, this is true for the River Cafe and it is also true for Daniel and most other fine dining restaurants. Regulars can almost walk in without reservations... Even in the UK. The reason is that regulars are the bread and butter that keeps these places afloat. A storm or blizzard hits....visitors cancel their reservations in droves...but the regular will stop in even then. There is a restaurant called Rao's that only services regulars... also, there is a book called Turning the Tables by Steven Shaw that discusses this practice in detail.

As for your bill... if incorrect definitely dispute it if you are certain the gratuity was automatically added despite your wishes. Although I don't recall if gratuity is automatically added or not.

I am glad you had a nice dinner at Daniel.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
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95,505 posts
12 reviews
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6. Re: River Cafe Review!!

Appreciate your posting your experience as a reminder that it's impossible to please all of the folks all of the time. I am curious to know how much of a service charge they had included. Did you have the 6 course tasting menu for $102/person?

Also look forward to hearing about the rest of your trip.

Eugene, Oregon
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26,786 posts
18 reviews
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7. Re: River Cafe Review!!

I feel your pain about not getting the window table. And the attitude of the maitre d'.

But by knocking off half the service charge, you were punishing your waiter, who you said was lovely.

You're just a speck, a moment to the maitre d', who as others have said will cater to the regulars because they are, well, regulars. Same as if a celeb had walked in the door. It is terrible, but that's the way it is. Hope it didn't spoil the rest of your vacation.

Eugene, Oregon
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18 reviews
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8. Re: River Cafe Review!!

But I also want to add that I fully appreciate the fact that you could have had the same table an hour and a half earlier...if the host had come over to you in the bar and told you that they had to give away the window table, and offered to seat you right away at the non-view table, you would have felt so much better.

New York City
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17,258 posts
3 reviews
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9. Re: River Cafe Review!!

I am puzzled -- if the waiters were lovely, as you said they were, why did you then think they should get a smaller tip for the excellent service they gave you?

VT
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109 posts
1 review
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10. Re: River Cafe Review!!

I an sorry you had a bad experience. Regardless of being a celeb or regular, there is still an expectation to be respected when paying decent money for a special occasion. Waiting 11/2 hours for a table and ending up not at the window seems crappy, but it is also how they handled it. I understand, perhaps, they had to give it to a regular, but they didn't handle the situation well at all and should not have allowed you to wait if they couldn't guarantee it.

Glad you had a good dinner at Daniel's.

We're going to River Cafe on 9/28 for my 40th Birthday. Hope it goes well. It's the first day of our NYC trip.