There are so many dining events in NYC--pig roasts, cook-offs, food festivals--and generally I ignore them. Not because I think the food won’t be good but because I just can’t deal with crowds. And they’re never not crowded. I know my limits, lining up for food, waiting an hour for food, heck, running out of food you paid for, just aren’t enjoyable things, so I sit these out.
I feel kind of bad about it, maybe I’m missing out, but after reading this piece on World Hum about introverted travelers, I realized I’m just an introverted eater. I don’t enjoy striking up conversations with strangers and being surrounded by hundreds of hungry people certainly doesn’t make me feel more alive, just aggravated. One man’s convivial is another’s claustrophobic.
But I’ve been meaning to pick up lobsters at Red Hook Lobster Pound all summer and do like Rocky Sullivan’s. So, Lobstah Feast Fridays at Rocky Sullivan’s? Yeah, I’d give it a shot. Rocky Sullivan’s is where I go when I just want a beer and no hassle. Even on the weekends, even when a random ska or Irish hip hop band is playing and the only clientele are their friends, it’s not packed. Normally, it’s just us, our pints and the sprawling upstairs wooden deck in the back. No more than a few mosquitoes and a family of black-and-white cats who trick you into thinking you’re seeing the same one popping up on opposite ends of the roof.
Normally, I wouldn’t go on the first night of a new undertaking. But it’s always desolate Red Hook and I’d only read about the event on a few blogs—how busy could it be?
Pretty darned busy. Slammed. There are really only three rectangular tables that seat around eight. Part of the trouble is that you can reserve for parties or six or more, which meant families ordering pizzas and parking themselves while smaller groups waited...and waited. I expected a wait, though.
The bartenders were incredulous, wiped out and unable to keep up with the demand (I was told that a lot of staff had taken vacation this week). Pint glasses were soon replaced with plastic cups. An older regular remarked to his lady friend, “This is how it should be on a Friday!” I can see that. I’m all for good business, and didn’t mind the 45-minute-wait I was quoted to be seated for food because I’d finagled a spot at the bar. And they had me...until they skipped my name on the list.
This seems to be a recurring problem in my world. I don’t think I’m unattractive and offensive nor mousy and forgettable (not that either of those should cause being skipped over in line) but without fail I get screwed over in a just wait and see scenario. I joked about it right after I got my party of two on the list, “What do you bet that they never call us?” That’s why I’m a cynic who avoids these situations. And don’t bullshit me over anticipating negativity manifesting itself in reality. Thinking good thoughts is all it takes to sail through life, really?
No, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I’m too polite. Yes, too polite. After 11 years here I still haven’t developed the art of pleasant aggression, yet on rare return visits to the NW I’m viewed as an impatient menace who stands too close to people in line.
By the time I realized walk-ins were being given tables after we’d waiting at the bar for an hour, it was too late. I should’ve said something sooner but I had hope since I'd heard the three groups written on the pad of paper before me being called loud and clear. I don’t want to have to get all Chinese on people's asses, blindly pushy looking out for number one, or even all New York about it, which is essentially the same as above but being more calculated and less obvious (and refraining from hawking loogies).
We ended up ordering food at the bar because scoring a table started seeming hopeless and I was afraid the food was running out. I never saw a menu so I don’t know the exact deal. It appeared to be one lobster, corn on the cob and potato salad or coleslaw, I think for $23. It was fair but I think I will leave Rocky Sullivan’s as a drinking establishment and steam lobsters on my own time.
It wasn’t the wait that bothered me. It was Friday night, I didn’t mind sipping a couple beers. Everyone was being served at the same slow pace. Tables actually clapped when their food arrived and staff members were congenial despite being harried. What I didn’t appreciate was being ignored, plain and simple. Out of curiosity, we asked the hostess/waitress where we were on the list as we were leaving and she flipped back three pages to my name, not crossed off, with every name after it penciled through. We were then offered a table. Uh, I start to take these things, benign as they might be, personally.
Pardon Me For Asking seemed to have a fine experience, though. Always Hungry also enjoyed their meal and got brownies from Baked, which I didn't even know was part of the menu. So, like I said, these things just seem to happen to me. You might be luckier. I’m sure they’ll streamline their process as the weeks go on. And I will continue to avoid foodie events. No hard feelings.