Win/Fail Fridays: Yay for Trade, Nay for Smith and Wollensky

Welcome to Win/Fail Fridays, where executive editor Donna Garlough mouths off about her latest dining-out adventures.

This week’s WIN: Letting ’em down easy at Trade

Nobody likes getting turned away because a restaurant is having a private event. But that’s what happened on Wednesday, when I popped into Jody Adams’ brand-new restaurant hoping to get a drink and a snack at the bar before we went somewhere else for dinner. While the space was full of people, it turned out they were all there for a preview event; Trade doesn’t officially open until tonight. But the hostess who had to bear the bad news was as gracious as they come: Smiling and apologetic, she told us (and the gentleman standing next to us) that they’d love to have us back on Friday. She handed us a business card and a lunch menu and wished us well. A bit bummed but glad to have had a peek at the bright, appealing space, we departed and headed a few doors down to the new Smith & Wollensky. Which leads me to …

This week’s FAIL: Gender confusion at Smith & Wollensky at Atlantic Wharf

I tried not to snort when our server opined on the difference between two Napa Cabernets. (“I think it’s the flavor,” he said, explaining why he preferred one over the other.) I winced when he tried to sell us on the chocolate layer cake, holding an imaginary slice between his hands to show us the massive portion, as though we wouldn’t possibly consider a dessert that wasn’t the size of the Hindenburg. But the real eye-roller of the evening was after he delivered the check to my husband. This happens most of the time we’re out together, so I didn’t think much of it at first; I grabbed the folder, slipped my credit card inside, and handed it to the server when he returned. When he came back with the sales slip, he handed it back to my husband, peering at the last name on the card. “Here you go, mister … How do you say it? Garloff? Garlough. Perfect. Thanks very much.” Nice touch, right? Except that the card had my name on it. And the reservation was mine as well. I understand that certain types of restaurants are primarily man territory, steakhouses in particular. But come on. If they hadn’t handed me a menu with actual prices on it, I’d be sure I’d stepped into an episode of Mad Men.

Stay tuned for next week’s Win/Fail!