Date of Last Visit: Friday, March 11, 2011
The Background: Amy at Salon Blue has been cutting and coloring my hair since 1998. It all started with a dye job gone horribly wrong at a salon-to-be-left-unnamed, also in Lakeview. (Let’s just say that at the time, I had enough gray hairs as it was. I didn’t need any more.) Oddly, although I’ve yet to meet Chicago Food Snob, we’ve both been going to Amy for over 10 years.
When you see someone for that long at the same salon, you start to develop your routines. My routine was a post-haircut chicken chopped salad at Pompeii. Love that salad.
But the other week when I stopped by Salon Blue to cover up the grays, I saw that Fish Bar had just opened across the street. So I decided to change things up.
The Entrance: Fish Bar is PACKED when I enter around 5 pm on a Friday evening. That being said, I am the only person waiting. So I’m optimistic about my chances of grabbing a seat relatively quickly. Fish Bar has counter seating all around, along with three or four booths off to the side. I have a nice chat with one of the proprieters who explains that he also owns DMK Burger Bar next door, and how he used to have a Pompeii. I tell him about my love for Pompeii’s chicken chopped salad. I feel like we’ve made a connection. I get a glass (or, well, a jar) of white and settle in to wait for my seat. Remember, I am the only person waiting.
And I continue to be the only person waiting for about five minutes. Then another guy shows up. And then another couple shows up five minutes after that. The guy with the menus at the front door points to a seat and says that will be mine momentarily. The music is really pumping at this point–Fish Bar is fun and loud and boisterous. I’m really liking it big time already.
Until two seats open up at the bar, and the the couple that entered 10 minutes after me are seated. Dude, totally dissing the solo diner. I’m pissed. And I am pretty sure the guy with the menus totally knows this because he is avoiding any and all eye contact with me.
Even more so when the dude that entered after me gets seated next because his dining companion has arrived. Ouch…I’m even more pissed.
The seat that was supposed to be mine continues to be occupied. The woman there orders another dish. I don’t begrudge her this at all. I did, after all, think it was odd that they told me where I was going to sit while the woman was obviously in the middle of her meal. Now it all becomes clear to me.
They don’t want to seat a solo diner where they could seat two people. Their assumption, of course, is that a two-seater will spend more than a solo diner and if they give me one of two seats next to each other, it will be hard for them to fill that second seat. I can understand that, but I’d also make the argument that timing is a big factor in serving your customers. If a solo diner has obviously been waiting significantly longer than anyone else, give that diner a seat, why don’t you???
Finally…I get a seat. And I order some tuna carpaccio.
Because I can never resist a little pulpo, I go for the octopus a la plancha. More good flavors — lemon, olive oil, chili, black pepper. But it would have been better if the octopus was hot all the way through and not cold in the middle like mine was.
Throughout it all, service was very friendly and attentive, almost as if she knew I was pretty pissed to have been dissed twice for a seat.
The Verdict: Fun environment. Interesting menu but only okay food. Good service once you’re seated. But still totally annoyed that I was skipped over not once but TWICE because I was dining alone. By one of the owners no less! I could maybe understand it if I hadn’t been waiting so long, but to have been the only person waiting for over 10 minutes…it’s just unacceptable.