Tag Archives: cheese fondu

Why Stoddard’s Kind of Sucks but I Won’t Stop Going There

29 Jan

The short version: the service is terrible, but the cheese and booze are amazing.

Our dear friend Sara was in town this weekend, up from Martha’s Vineyard and looking to get into some big-city debauchery. If you knew Sara, you’d know that debauchery was probably the last thing she was looking for, but she was looking to have a nice dinner with friends and I’m never one to pass up the chance of a delicious meal. We decided to head to Stoddard’s on Temple Place downtown, a frequent hangout for our small group.

I’ll tell you why I love Stoddard’s: it’s pretty small, has a great prohibition era speakeasy feel to it, has amazing cocktails, and has a cheese fondu that will make you want to lick the bowl. Nearly every time I’ve been there, I’ve sat at the bar. The bartenders have always been exactly what you’d want from a bartender – friendly, attentive and great at mixing drinks.

Mmmm cheese fondue ...

Having said all that about the bartenders, it makes me feel a little bad that I have to say I think the exact opposite is true of the service in the dining room. Last night was the second time we’d ever sat at a regular table with a waiter and it was the second time that we were really annoyed that we did. As our waiter gave us dirty looks, disappeared for huge stretches of time, and forgot our orders, I thought back to the first time that we sat in the dining room. I think there were six of us eating there that night and we were seated at the table closest to the bar. As we were eating, drinking, chatting and laughing, the manager came over to our table and asked us to be quiet. In a bar. Where everyone was loud. Where no one seemed to take any notice of us besides the manager. I remember we even asked if people had been complaining about us and he said no, he just thought we were being loud. Strike one, Stoddard’s.

Tess and Ilena, smiling despite the annoying wait for more drinks.

So last night – in all fairness to Stoddard’s – I was far less offended than I was the first time we ate in the dining room. This time, no one accused us of being too loud. No one really paid any attention to us at all. And before you start thinking that we’re high¬†maintenance¬†girls who relish the opportunity to complain about anything and everything, nothing could be further from the truth. We weren’t in a rush, we understood that it was busy during the Saturday night dinner hour. We hadn’t seen Sara in a while and were perfectly content to sit and sip our drinks and take our time eating. But our waiter was just straight rude. He was as unsmiling as the hostess (who just blankly stared at my friend Tess when she showed up to meet us) and barely talked to us. Then he disappeared for probably 20 minutes while we were hoping to order a second round of drinks and several of the tables around us were trying to pay their bills.

I guess the bottom line is this: Stoddard’s has two things that endear it to me – fantastic cocktails and delicious melty cheese. Luckily, I can get both of those things in the bar, where I will sit every time I go back there.