Friday night dining out in the Tri-Valley can be extremely trying.
Well duh, you say. Just stay home.
But by the end of the week sometimes we just can't help ourselves. We're tired. We want to go out.
Unfortunately the plethora of big name chain restaurants around here don't take reservations. Your stupidity for even trying to eat at one of them is rewarded with a funky pager device you have to carry around for 45 minutes salivating when it goes off with a happy dance of disco lights.
And so it was on our first trip to try in Dublin.
We called ahead to scope it out and got the standard "no reservations" line but they said we could be put on the list. (I've never understood that. It's a list. Why not call it a reservation??) We called at 6:45 p.m. and were given a 7:45 p.m. time slot.
And guess what time we sat down???
9 p.m. Read it and weep, baby. A one hour and 10 minute wait for a birthday dinner party of seven that included two very hungry children.
Apparently everyone else and their dog got the "just call ahead" memo. Now, a smart restaurant in this situation often brings out some sampler platters of appetizers. That can make a world of difference for a diner's experience. But not here.
After we sat it wasn't any better. It took about 15 minutes to get even a glass of water. Another 15 to get our appetizers.
When the clearly overwhelmed waitress came out, she profusely apologized for our experience. I was expecting the obligatory "I'll comp your drinks/appetizer/dessert," a practice I witnessed a couple of months ago at the often busy in Pleasanton. In that case the diner's wait was a mere fraction of what happened at BJ's.
When the food arrived at 9:45 p.m. — THREE HOURS after we called in — we were too bitter to even fairly judge its quality, but even a five-star Michelin-rated spot would taste awful after that. It's safe to say it was NOT worth the wait.
To be fair I asked a couple of other locals if they had tried out BJs and both said they walked in, saw the wait and left. Smart people!
Interestingly, the last time I had an experience like that in Dublin was at another new hot spot eatery that handed out buzzers for its long waits: in the nearby Hacienda Crossings shopping center. ( in Pleasanton is also famous for the buzzer hell.)
And guess what? Macaroni Grill is closed now. Hmmmm. While packed crowds might seem good for business, it's not an experience that keeps them coming back.
Where do you eat out with a family-sized group on a busy Friday night? Any tips for making it less hellish? Tell us in the comments!