Table Talk

1208802552Let’s talk about bad tables. Most restaurants have at least one that’s too close to the kitchen or the front door, or positioned under the air conditioning vent or in a too-dark corner. And most of us have been seated there at least once.

It’s not a personal slight. Real estate is expensive and restaurants are looking for that sweet spot where the maximum number of revenue-generating tables are filled with happy, comfortable customers.

I’m not usually sensitive to where I’m seated. I try to keep a low profile anyway, and don’t mind when others get the prime geography. If a designated seat is bad enough for me to notice, I just ask for a different one. Most of the time, the strategy works. But the other night, I was seated at table so bad it was actually funny.

The scene: Scampo, the new Lydia Shire restaurant in the Liberty Hotel. It’s a very handsome room, a warm, open space with gleaming dark wood, brick walls, an inviting display kitchen, and a fab orange-topped bar (restaurant design alert: Copper is the new stainless steel).

Chairs are large and comfortable. Tables are generously spaced—more so than at most restaurants. But one table (ours) was positioned just outside the entrance to the back kitchen and next to the bar. Which means that, when he wasn’t being jostled by the occasional server rushing out with an order, my husband was getting elbowed in the head by a cluster of cocktailing friends. Worse, as the crowd around the bar got thicker and cut off the main path to the kitchen, servers had to reroute themselves around my side of the table, putting us in the center of a vortex of activity.

It’s not that the staff were oblivious to our plight: they repositioned our seats to move us away from the jabbing elbows. But the restaurant is still working out its opening kinks, there were no other tables to be had, and there wasn’t much they could do, outside of rearranging all the other tables. When I go back (and I will, thanks to the addictive bread bar, house-made mozzarella, and a superlative pork chop), I expect to see evidence of reshuffling. Or, at least, I hope so. If not, I’ll sit at the bar and keep my elbows to myself.

What about you? Have you been seated at one of Boston’s worst tables? We want details.