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Operating Hours: Promised versus Actual


brian
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Mission: nice food at a nice bar.

Last night I went to CityZen for a light meal in the lounge and a drink. I called the restaurant to make sure they were still serving, but the phone went unanswered. I reached the front desk of the Mandarin and asked how late food was served in CityZen's lounge, and was told 11pm. Great! After some navigational and parking errors we ended up sitting at the bar and asking for drink and food menus. Unfortunately, I was told that I had obviously made some error in my phone request as the kitchen closed at 9:30 (it was maybe 10:15 at this point). Café Mozu and the Empress Lounge were still open and serving until 11, but I was looking forward to trying some of Ziebold's cooking so I left a little frustrated by the inaccurate advice and the bartender's tone. Doubting myself, as we drove away I called back to CityZen (again no answer) and again to the Mandarin, where I asked a different person what time CityZen's lounge served food until. After checking, she was happier than Nigel Tufnel to tell me that they went to 11. :lol:

Last night I went to Oya for, well, not to eat but because we parked across the street on the way to Zaytinya. It was 10:30, and because I'd called to check and been told that their kitchen closed at 10:30, I figured we wouldn't eat there. They were happy to tell me upon going in that their bar menu was served until at least 11. ;)

Zaytinya was still serving, and it was probably the best meal I've had there in my last 4-5 visits. The service was a bit flaky but quick and knowledgeable, the lamb sausage special was excellent and the standard menu items were as good as they've ever been. :P

I had tried Citronelle first in the evening for a light meal in the lounge and a bottle of that amazing domestic tempranillo. Alas, it was not to be as we ended up there at 9:30pm and our server politely informed us that they had stopped serving at 9 due to water being shut off in Georgetown for road work. Disappointing, but understandable. :P

I've certainly got nothing against Citronelle, as I didn't call first and the reason they closed early was out of their control, but the false information from the Mandarin was surprising considering that they pride themselves on their service, and I probably would have eaten at Oya had I not made other plans beforehand based on the wrong closing time given to me on the phone. So I'm wondering - how often do you run up against the kind of inaccurate information (especially in terms of operating hours) that ends up seriously affecting your evening, and is there a better way to confirm?

(edited to move Citronelle out of chronological order and lower in the post so as not to make it seem as though it is the target of my frustration)

Edited by brian
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Mission: nice food at a nice bar.

So I'm wondering - how often do you run up against the kind of inaccurate information (especially in terms of operating hours) that ends up seriously affecting your evening, and is there a better way to confirm?

Brian,

I can assure you that the reason the kitchen at Citronelle had to close early last night was because of the water. Our kitchen normally closes everything down at 10:30. It is illegal in the District to operate a restaurant without running water. The water was shut off promptly at 11. Next time you stop in, please ask to talk to me.

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Mark, as I said in my post Citronelle handled the situation well - I didn't call beforehand and our server was gracious and upfront with the information. It was a shame I wasn't able to eat there, but because of the way we were treated I left more likely to return rather than less, a notable contrast with CityZen.

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I can tell you with the underground work, we have our electricity and water shut off regularly in Georgetown. In my opinion, Citronelle does not even derserve a mention in this regard, especially compared to the crap you dealt with at Zen.

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There's been plenty said about restaurant websites around here...

I wish if restaurants are going to publish their hours on their websites they would stick to them. The other night at around 9:45 pm we decided to order some carryout. Well... I experienced the following with two different restaurants, both with web-published closing times of 10:30 pm:

Restaurant 1 did not answer the phone, after having the line ring busy seconds before.

Restaurant 2 told me the kitchen was already closed.

I understand that it doesn't make a lot of sense to keep an empty restaurant open on the off-chance that a customer will walk in or someone will call for carry out during that last 30-45 minutes. But it is VERY frustrating to be on the other end, thinking that the place is still open, planning your order, and then being shot down at the last second.

(I know, I know, you can't believe everything you read on the internet.)

PS - I was reminded of this by Todd Kliman's mention last week of a similar experience.

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I agree with the frustration. Washington is not a late night dining town. We frequently have dinner after the theater or NSO. After having arrived at several restaurants that advertise "after theater menu" only to find the kitchen closed, I've come to depend on Open Table to make reservations.

-Ed

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