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Dine Out Vancouver - The Topic (2002-2007)


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Out of interest just took a look at the Parkside DOV menu on their website - I can't believe they have the balls to put at the bottom of the page that hot water and lemon is $1.25 - what spoiled brats - if you think people are going to be cheap than go Lumiere's way and not do DOV - just don't insult them - tasteless actually.

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I can't believe they have the balls to put at the bottom of the page that hot water and lemon is $1.25

Sounds like a bargain, since hot water and a tea bag would likely cost more than twice that.

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. - Johnny Carson
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It's called being honest. They want people to know what to expect when they come to the restaurant. Tea is charged for, and I am sure that teabags are similar in price to lemons.

It is a business, and if they want to dissuade a certain type of customer from coming to their restaurant, it is certainly their choice. A lot of people don't go to Lumiere or Ciopinno's because of the price. Attracting people to the restaurant for a good dinner at a good price is one thing, but attracting people who will never come back (because of regular prices) is not as desirable. Call it selective marketing.

More power to them I say! I know that they are full of (mostly) customers that will be repeat customers.

P.S. You also notice that they offer a small selection of non-alcoholic drinks that sound more pleasant than hot water and lemon?

Edited by Irishgirl (log)
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Out of interest just took a look at the Parkside DOV menu on their website - I can't believe they have the balls to put at the bottom of the page that hot water and lemon is $1.25 - what spoiled brats - if you think people are going to be cheap than go Lumiere's way and not do DOV - just don't insult them - tasteless actually.

In looking at it from a restaurant's POV, understand that the business must pay staff to serve all food & beverages.

During DOV, it is a reality that there are a significantly higher percentage of guests that just drink water, or drink hot water & lemon. It probably takes a server longer to get hot water & lemon (especially if served in a teapot), than it does to ring in and retrieve a glass of wine from the bar.

As an industry insider, I don't view any restaurant's choice to charge for HW & Lemon as cheeky or insulting, just a simple acknowledgment that there is a cost to the restaurant for providing something that may otherwise be provided for free. To me the only question, (and the reason we don't charge) is that if you are going to charge for HW & Lemon, you need to charge for Cold Water & Lemon as well, and most restaurants would never do that. One can't justify the cost of lemons as $1.25 per wedge, getting 8 wedges per lemon, which becomes $10.00 for a single lemon. That's a very hefty markup.

Parkside has a very small room, so with a lot of people drinking free beverages, it can significantly hurt the business. If a $1.25 charge turns people off, then the seat will be filled with a guest willing to pay $10 for a glass of wine instead.

Understand that revenues for a restaurant are limited to the number of chairs that you have, and your legal capacity of patrons. In order to make the business viable, restaurant owners and managers try to figure out ways to maximize the revenues for those seats. That's the simple business aspect of running a restaurant.

Compare that to say, an insurance company or a bank. They will take as many customers that walk through the door or call on the phone. If the phone rang 24/7, they would change their hours to 24/7 if it meant revenue, and if 1 million people called per day, they would figure out how to handle 1 million calls per day.

Honestly, before criticizing restaurant policies, one should seek to understand what the impact of it is. Does anyone honestly think that a restaurant would intentionally insult the lifeblood of their business? To go online into a public forum and use such severe words such as 'spoiled brats' and 'tasteless' just shows a lack of understanding and a lack of desire to do so. Don't get me wrong, I do understand that the guests, being the most important part of the restaurant industry feel like they are a PART of the industry, but in reality, unless one has worked the 12 hour shift RUNNING the entire time fetching people their dinner, there is still some understanding that needs to be done before criticisms are fired.

Other businesses charge "administration fees" for someone to file a piece of paper. Water in restaurants is pretty much the last free thing on earth, and if $1.25 is too steep a price to pay, just wait until the day comes that restaurants ONLY offer bottled water, taking the hard line of not offering anything for free.

While I won't charge for hot water & lemon, I don't blame Parkside for doing it.

Ian McTavish

General Manager / Capones Restaurant & Live Jazz Club

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I started to charge for it during DOV

It comes with a lemon wedge, a biscotti and an Asian soup spoon filled with honey.

I sell that for $2.00

I have sold 100 of them and no one has questioned it. Call it 5% of my traffic having that.

It is more work that a coffee or tea to deliver. If you are the waiter, that is lots of work.

Teapot ( clean ) , cup, saucer, side plate, honey and spoon, biscotti, napkin and saucer under teapot, lemon, hot water......................oh, and scambling around loolking for a tray to deliver it on, fuck, what if one of those things were out and you had to run to the storage room or the walkin cooler..............imagine doing that for no money.

One waiter had ten in his section at one time. He was running his ass off gathering all of this stuff.

Oh, and you can imagine that there is not a little extra something something left at the end of the night for all of your trouble getting the free hot water and lemon, hence the charge.

Spoiled brat ?

Think again.

Edited by nwyles (log)

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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While I won't charge for hot water & lemon, I don't blame Parkside for doing it.

^ Ha!. Since people are in the mood for rolling epithets like "spoiled brats", let me be the first to say "Chicken!"

:biggrin:

Honestly, I didn't think of it. We really haven't had that much of an issue with it this year.

I do agree to charge for honey & lemon, but I also believe that if you aren't charging for cold water w/lemon, it's hard to justify charging for hot water w/lemon (assuming that you aren't serving in the pot), if it's just in a cup.

In a guest's eyes, it's $1.25 to heat the water.

Neil has obviously cornered the market on elaborate and decorative hot water service, so I won't try to compete. Maybe that's why you had 10 in a section?

ha ha.

On another note, to the restaurateurs out there, how are sales figures for you compared to last year's DOV? We aren't getting the early resos that we got last year, so it's down for us.

Ian McTavish

General Manager / Capones Restaurant & Live Jazz Club

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I will venture a gross generalizaton and state that in my experience, people who order hot water and lemon are people who don't want to pay for tea. I wholeheartedly support charging during DOV.

The sea was angry that day my friends... like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.

George Costanza

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On another note, to the restaurateurs out there, how are sales figures for you compared to last year's DOV? We aren't getting the early resos that we got last year, so it's down for us.

There is a more industry-centric conversation going on over at Waiterforum. Unfortunately, Urban Diner is under repair today (hopefully back up tomorrow, techies permitting), but members can enter through this backdoor.

From my owns travels and after reading the many WF comments over the last week, folks seem to be doing just fine. Cin Cin, fo example, did well over 300 last night, and dinner at West saw them looking to do 3 turns this past Wednesday with their last reso scheduled for 10:15pm. The few higher end places that aren't doing DOV have been packed, too. Tis the season for dining. :smile:

Andrew Morrison

Food Columnist | The Westender

Editor & Publisher | Scout Magazine

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On another note, to the restaurateurs out there, how are sales figures for you compared to last year's DOV? We aren't getting the early resos that we got last year, so it's down for us.

There is a more industry-centric conversation going on over at Waiterforum. Unfortunately, Urban Diner is under repair today (hopefully back up tomorrow, techies permitting), but members can enter through this backdoor.

From my owns travels and after reading the many WF comments over the last week, folks seem to be doing just fine. Cin Cin, fo example, did well over 300 last night, and dinner at West saw them looking to do 3 turns this past Wednesday with their last reso scheduled for 10:15pm. The few higher end places that aren't doing DOV have been packed, too. Tis the season for dining. :smile:

I would think that the more recognized restaurants (like the Top Table group) wouldn't see a difference, as they are most in demand.

For us it's a bit different,considering we're more known for music than anything else, not exactly a staple in the industry conversations and news.

I think that between the fact that there are even more participating restaurants this year, and quite a few disenchanted diners (disappointing past experiences & not into the boxing day atmosphere) it may mean that everyone's piece of the pie may be a bit smaller. Of course this would have no effect on the Cin Cins and Wests of the scene.

Just a theory

Ian McTavish

General Manager / Capones Restaurant & Live Jazz Club

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On another note, to the restaurateurs out there, how are sales figures for you compared to last year's DOV? We aren't getting the early resos that we got last year, so it's down for us.

There is a more industry-centric conversation going on over at Waiterforum. Unfortunately, Urban Diner is under repair today (hopefully back up tomorrow, techies permitting), but members can enter through this backdoor.

From my owns travels and after reading the many WF comments over the last week, folks seem to be doing just fine. Cin Cin, fo example, did well over 300 last night, and dinner at West saw them looking to do 3 turns this past Wednesday with their last reso scheduled for 10:15pm. The few higher end places that aren't doing DOV have been packed, too. Tis the season for dining. :smile:

I would think that the more recognized restaurants (like the Top Table group) wouldn't see a difference, as they are most in demand.

For us it's a bit different,considering we're more known for music than anything else, not exactly a staple in the industry conversations and news.

I think that between the fact that there are even more participating restaurants this year, and quite a few disenchanted diners (disappointing past experiences & not into the boxing day atmosphere) it may mean that everyone's piece of the pie may be a bit smaller. Of course this would have no effect on the Cin Cins and Wests of the scene.

Just a theory

I hate to dash your theory, but we are up over last year.

Unless I have a catastrophic night in the no show / cancellations...................

I am trending towards a staggering 50% increase in volume over last year.

I am checking and double checking the figures but that is where we are at.

I did 1550 meals last year, and I am looking at 2350 meals this year.

I did take into account the extra days ( 2 ) that were added this year.

These are real numbers, not over inflated one restaurant guy talking to another restaurant guy.

I am pleased with this year's results.

Neil Wyles

Hamilton Street Grill

www.hamiltonstreetgrill.com

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Does anyone know which restaurants are extending the dates for DOV?

At Capones, we will be extending the dine out menu through Feb. 8th.

As of Feb. 9, we will be offering a Valentine's menu that will run through Feb.

18.

Ian

Our one and only DOV visit was to RARE (2 kids & another on the way...). Service was attentive but understated (just how we likeit) . We had our 1 year old with us and left our 3 year old with a baby sitter. (she was screaming as we were going out the door so we had to bring her...) Had the deep fried oysters (yummy), veal cheeks and pudding(delicious). Wife had the cauliflower soup (flavourful), striploin & chocolate (another hit). Ordered the mushroom ravioli after reading the rave reviews here (great flavour for the mushrooms compote, but the ravioli was a tad dry for my taste. still yummy, though). Dinner came up to $150 per couple (there were four of us, excluding our toddler) with drinks , taxes and tips. All in all it was a good experience. Will definitely recommend and revisit when the folks come back into town and offer to baby sit. :wink:

Edited by owzer (log)
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I believe that Quattro has a 3 course prix fixe for $35 that they are running to the end of February. I know that Rare is extending their $35 menu till Feb. 11th and I am not 100% sure but I think C is as well, they may have just added time before the event started so don't quote me on that.

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DOV "Rush" factor

We've been to six DOV dinners this year. The overall value was high everywhere we went. Job well done across the board. Most places had the usual 1-1/2 or 2 hour limit, which I have no problem with. However, some places handle it more smoothly than others. To illustrate:

4 of us at Beyond. Warned us in advance there'd be a 2-hour limit. Fair enough. Restaurant 2/3 full. We each ordered a cocktail. Waiter took our wine order at the same time. We said we'd start with white and move on to red. (Should have been a hint we wouldn't be drinking hot water and lemons.) Wine arrived same time as cocktails, followed shortly by the first course. As soon as those were done the entrees were in front of us, followed immediately by the desserts. We still weren't even finished the white wine (and trust me, we are not slow drinkers!). Even though the place was by this time only half full, we got our bill and left to have that other bottle of wine elsewhere. In and out in 75 minutes. A little bit of pacing and recognition we had the potential for a good liquor tab, and the waiter could have generated a bigger tab and a lot bigger tip. Food was great, atmosphere needs some work (that big open room is not fun when it's not full), and good service, aside from being rushed.

Last night at Parkside was a different story. The place was packed. Nothing was said, but we assumed the 1-1/2 hour limit would be in effect. We had already drooled over the menu on line, so didn't waste too much time ordering. Nonetheless, no sense that we were being rushed. Had a few minutes to sip our wine before first course arrived. Decent interval before the entrees arrived. Still had lots of wine left when we finished those. Waitress saw we were enjoying the wine, so held off bringing desserts. The desserts arrived just as we finished off the wine. No time wasted bringing the bill once we were done, but we were sated by then anyway. In and out in 95 minutes, and never once had the sense we were being rushed. (We'd have been out in 90 minutes but for a mistake on the bill!)

No one who dines out a lot resents the short time limits when we know what a bargain we're getting. However, a little more deft handling of it by staff, and especially management, would make a big difference to the impression you're leaving with customers.

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BTW - Charging for hot water is also done at Chinese restaurants, so doing it at DOV is not some sort of crazy precedent.

At better dim sum restaurants - a per head Tea Charge is levied at the table, regardless of whether not you actually drink the tea. Many times - when I am dining with my Aunts - they mostly drink plain hot water - but we are still charged for the hot water. Its fair considering how much effort is expended to ensure that a table is never without hot tea and water.

Edited by canucklehead (log)
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Went to Smoking Dog Bistro last friday and had a great time. I really like this place. It just seems to spell comfort food with the chalk board menu and the laid back staff. The French onion soup was pretty good - albiet slightly too salty for me. The steak frites was marvellous. That gravy is incredible. I kept taking bread and mopping up the remaining sauce the fries failed to grab. Yum.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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My last DOV dinner this year was at Parkside. It was my first time there and... Wow! I can see why it ranks so high on many people's lists :wub:

I already was in a particularly good mood when I arrived at the restaurant: see, I was meeting with a lovely couple of eGulleters and a friend of theirs, who had offered to rescue me from solo DOV dining, even though they didn't know me from Adam. Random acts of friendliness always make my day :smile:

I rarely drink cocktails, but the blood orange Negroni came highly recommended and it was indeed delicious. Seasonal ingredients, bold yet refined and perfectly balanced flavours, this was a cocktail that set the tone for the rest of the menu.

All the appetizers sounded very tempting. The oxtail consomme with bone marrow dumplings finally got my vote, as it is not a dish that I am likely to find very often in Vancouver. The consomme was beautifully executed with clean yet deep flavours; the dumplings had a surprisingly light texture and tasted heavenly.

I then had the steelhead trout, which was superb as well. I particularly enjoyed the skill and creativity that went into the sides and accompaniments: the scallop tartelette was excellent and those roasted hazelnuts were to die for!

For dessert, the espresso panna cotta was calling my name, although the prune / armagnac ice cream sounded wonderful too. The panna cotta was served in a large (and by this I mean *large*) cup and looked exactly like a well-made cappuccino, topped by a dense white foam (white chocolate in this case). Although the portion was more than generous, it was so good that it promptly disappeared!

Everyone at the table shared a bottle of a very enjoyable Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc, which I will order again next time I see it on a wine list.

Service was very good, unobtrusive and efficient but never rushed.

Needless to say, after this first experience, I am very much looking forward to going back and trying more dishes from their regular menu. I will be recommending Parkside to anyone who will listen for the next little while, I think... :biggrin:

Edited by Little Frog (log)
Emmanuelle
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Count my family in for 5 more converts!! We went last Friday and they loved it! I was hoping that my favourite non-alcoholic drink would appear on the menu again this year and it did!! Sparkling apple juice, elderflower, and mint. SO good & refreshing. This year's panna cotta was the equivalent of last year's Valrhona pot de creme - so richly flavoured! Another unforgettable dinner at Parkside. Our server was ok, but the other server who brought our dishes (in the blue shirt, with the facial hair) was great! And that bread - crusty on the outside with a sprinkling of poppy seeds, and soft & warm on the inside... :wub:

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We were hooked after DOV 2004 and it's risen to the top of our go-to places in town after consistently superb return visits. This year's DOV gave us the opportinity to convert 2 more friends biggrin.gif

Now if our friends tell their friends and so on...dang! It's gonna be hard to score a table!

 

[Moderator note: The original Dine Out Vancouver - The Topic topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the following part of this discussion is here: Dine Out Vancouver - The Topic (2008-)]

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