I was going to post this last week and forgot about it and was about to discard it because now it’s old news, plus complaining isn’t attractive. Unfortunately, now I have to because this weekend I ran into a friend at a party who was raving about how great Viñas is and I realize people who live in Williamsburg have wildly different standards from mine but I can’t allow delusional folks to perpetuate falsehoods. So, my friend, her South American boyfriend and a Zagat employee who treated them to a meal love this place. So much so that it was brought up as a fun New Year’s Eve dining spot. That already breaks my rule for a Williamsburg/’80s music-free new year. It’s going to be a tough 2008, I fear.
Original post (ha, or should I say blog as is the new-style parlance):
Generally, I hate eating in Williamsburg. The only time I ever dine in the neighborhood (my hand so wants to type ‘hood or nabe) is when I get a haircut every three months or so, which lord knows, sounds way lamer than just flat out eating in Williamsburg but I’ve yet to find any professional with better prices who grasps non-ugly styling. (Here’s my new cut if you’re into exhibitionist MySpace crap—I don’t like putting photos of myself here despite the Me in the title)
But if for some reason you like to eat in Williamsburg, stay away from Viñas. I know the no seating until your party has arrived deal is an annoying standard but they went beyond. I’m punctuality-crazed but was fifteen minutes later than expected thanks to the G train. I said I’d meet James there at 7:15 and didn’t make it till 7:30. He showed up fifteen minutes early, which was also uncharacteristic. It was a perfect storm of time management flubs.
They wouldn’t let him have a drink at the bar (because essentially most of the seating is at the bar, I assume) even though the room was empty. They wouldn’t let him stand inside and wait either. It’s not that small of a space–75-seats according to New York. And now that we’re into winter weather, it seems especially rude. What kind of restaurant insists you must leave when it’s not even half-full? I don’t want to turn into a fussbudget, but it seems kind of ridiculous because couldn’t you just change your tune and say you were dining solo, oh, and then a friend stops by like fifteen minutes later?
So, there wasn’t any way we were going to eat there when the full party, i.e. me finally showed up. Ok, out of curiosity we did pop in to ask about seating for two and were quoted 30 minutes. Please, it’s just pan-latin tapas.
Old standby Diner, a block away, seated us immediately and my duck breast with sweet potatoes (mysteriously crunchy and brown) “spaetzle” and endive salad with lardons, poached egg and walnut vinaigrette were uber-seasonal and higher caliber than much of what passes for edible in the area. I can’t really find fault with them, though that chain restaurant-style of waiters crouching at your table has always weirded me out. And somehow we managed to spend $100 without even realizing it. Still, it’s $100 that thankfully wasn’t wasted on a needlessly attitudinal new wine bar.