We loved Carmen so several weeks ago, that we came back the following week. It’s a cozy, romantic, dimly lit restaurant, on a charming side street in the North End. The food is not overly salted like a lot of places, and the flavors, especially the red sauce is done right. Just like ‘Ma’ used to make.
However, on our second visit, the hostess gave up our reservation. She gave us the green light on the phone that we could move our reservation table for two from 8:30 to 8:45. When we get there at 8:46pm, she gave up our table to a 9pm reservation that got there early.
The hostess then asks if we’d like to sit at the bar and eat instead, a major downgrade from sitting at a table since the bar is petite and cramped. We said that we would wait for the next table and we sat at the bar. It would have been nice to offer a complimentary glass of wine for the inconvenience but that didn’t happen.
The food was good, not as good as the previous week. I got the oriechette and my wife got the linguine and clams, again both good dishes.
On the way out, I hear a voice behind me saying, “I’ve been waiting for this all night”. I turn around and of all people, it’s the hostess, sitting at a table by herself with a big plate of linguine and clams made just for her. She was smiling ear to ear completely ignoring the customers. Didn’t she still have a job to do?
But that’s Carmen. The service people there aren’t rude. I’ve been to ruder places before but the customers aren’t treated with the utmost respect as they should.
I’m afraid just like Danny Meyer said in his Book “Setting the Table“, Carmen offers the type of customer service experience in which you feel that “something has happened TO you” (versus a good customer service experience in which you feel “something has happened FOR you”.
Solid food at Carmen, mediocre to poor customer service, very lame hostess. We won’t go back again.