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Get the humble pie at Tatiana
On paid reservations and a white hot NYC restaurant in NYC
RESTAURANTS • The Apps
Late last month, after a FOUND rundown of nouveau paid restaurant reservation tools, I dropped $70 on Appointment Trader, buying a reservation for two at white-hot Lincoln Center stunner Tatiana (above).
Appointment Trader, you’ll recall, is the wild west of this re-energized market, featuring a website with a janky Y2K-era aesthetic and vague assurances that your transaction will work out just fine. (Early intel suggests that is true; it usually does work out just fine.) For my $70, I was given a screengrab of the reservation (5:30 pm, Wednesday night) from the Resy app of the gentleman who had posted it for sale.
Wednesday night, we arrived on time, bypassing a line outside the restaurant three couples deep. “We’re waiting until 6:30pm, which is when they’re taking names again,” one person told me. Which is to say, Tatiana is not struggling to fill its seats.
I girded myself and gave the hostess the name on the reservation. “Ed Tan*,” she said to me, scanning her screen and looking concerned. “You’re Ed Tan?” I felt obliged to say that I was.
“That reservation has been canceled,” she said.
“Oh wow,” I said stupidly.
She looked back at her screen. “But we do have a table for you,” she said.
Heads down, my wife and I followed another hostess to our table, which was right in the middle of the dining room.
We had an unbelievable meal. The service was impeccable, the servers clearly not having been informed of our reservation transgression. The space is classically New York City, including a new outdoor seating area on Josie Robertson Plaza that had just opened in soft-launch mode. (That night, walk-ins were getting seated out there, but it required knowing to request the patio, and rolling with a slightly smaller menu.)
On the way out, I stopped back by the check-in table. “Obviously you knew something was up with our reservation,” I said to the woman who had checked me in. “Why did you seat us?”
She smiled. “We had availability, so we seated you,” she said.
“So pure hospitality,” I said. She beamed. —Lockhart Steele
* not the actual name.