Things go wrong. It is the nature of things. But there is that critical break or make moment when you have a chance to take a problem and turn it around. That's what hospitality is all about, and a fairly new Brooklyn Heights neighborhood spot called Red Gravy did a hospitality pas de deux the other night that deserves applause.
The evening started out well enough. At arrival, albeit, 10 minutes late for our reservation, I arrived with my pal Jenn, the birthday girl, in tow for a celebratory dinner. The woman at the check-in stand said it would be another 10 minutes and suggested we wait at the bar. Only one seat was left at the corner, so we edged our way in and ordered a round. Then our other dinner companion arrived and we tried to make the most of our limited real estate, as Jenn let it be known that she was starving. I checked back in with the front desk and was told it would be yet another 10 - 15 minutes. I grimaced, mentioning that the birthday girl was hungry, asking if anything could be done. I received shrug.
I went back to the bar to ask if Jenn could hold out for another 10 - 15 minutes. Now it was her turn to grimace. I marched back to the check-in stand and now a gentleman was there, who saw that I was a bit distressed and graciously asked how he could help. I let him know about the grumbling tummy at the bar and asked if we could possibly get some bread. "Of course," he replied and quickly headed to the kitchen.
A few minutes later he not only presented us with some warm bread and bean dip, but some lovely fried Arancini Balls stuffed with Smoked Mozzarella on the house. Nice!
Showed to our table another 10 minutes later, we saw that glasses of Prosecco had been set in front of our plates -- compliments of the house with regrets that it took a while to get seated. Very nice!
Menus in hand we batted back and forth a variety of delectable Italian options settling on an Uni Carpaccio special to start, followed by two pastas, and then a Grilled Steak with Lentils, along with a side of stewed eggplant. Sipping our fizzy wine, we were contented and Jenn was particularly excited to try the uni, as it was one of her favorites.
Then the waiter returned with apologies. Apparently, we had been given old menus. The steak dish wasn't available.
We asked for the menus back to figure out another game plan. He went to fetch them and returned with good news and bad: We had the right menus after all and could have the steak. However, they were out of the uni. At this point we just started laughing and perused the menu for a substitute. Then the manager came over and let us know that they were going send out a couple of appetizers to make up for the uni being sold out. So nice!
Totally unnecessary, but I have to say it was the kind of move that will make me not only return to Red Gravy, but recommend it to others.
Oh, and then the meal began to arrive. It was delicious, from Meatballs with Soft Polenta to Cavatelli with Corn, Pancetta and Tarragon. The steak was also superb.
But, wait -- where was the eggplant? We called over our waiter to ask and he went to the kitchen to check. Within moments he returned with a look of dismay, telling us that he had forgotten to put the eggplant order in. Giggling at the ongoing comedy of errors, we told him not to worry about it. It happens and we were more than fine!
And yet, a few minutes later the manager came up to the table, eggplant in hand to say this too was on the house.
Wow! Really, really nice!
Then the team at Red Gravy gilded the lilly at dessert, giving us an additional sweet and a round of dessert wine to boot.
All of this didn't just confirm my resolve to return and recommend the restaurant, but now I was inspired to write a blog post too.
Impressive to say the least. A bunch of missteps turned into a gigantic hospitality win. Needless to say, I hope all goes smoothly the next time I go to Red Gravy. But, if it doesn't, I know I'll be in good hands.