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January 21st, 2009 · 5 Comments

Before publishing a restaurant review, professional critics will dine at a restaurant at least twice. Well-known reviewers aim for a triple visit. The likes of Frank Bruni and Adam Platt have the influence to move a restaurant’s pendulum between failure and success and multiple visits are part of their duty. I’m not that powerful.

Over the past two weeks, however, I broke practice and went to Freemans for the second and third time. (The first time was over the summer.) Unfortunately, I can’t tell you a thing about the food.

On my first and second visits we bailed after the hostess informed us of the 1.5 hour wait for a table. (Freemans does not accept reservations.) On this third visit, my two dining companions and I were ready for the challenge, ready to wait it out. We were not alone.

The two bar areas were packed with patrons waiting for tables. A constant flow of people approached the hostess, asking questions, and pointing to their watches. When the three of us had already been waiting an hour and a half, and had seen multiple parties of four leave their tables and be replaced with people I was certain had arrived after us, I approached the hostess. “Oh, we don’t seat parties of three at four tops,” she said with condescending sympathy. When I asked her to clarify, she explained that parties of three are only seated at tables for two. She pointed to a nearby table where a third chair had been pulled up to the side. Third wheel indeed.

At the two-hour mark, I spoke with the hostess again, repeating my dissatisfaction with their seating policy and a wait that was much longer than she originally stated. A party of six shuffled by her podium and exited. She offered us their vacant table by the door. Starving and weary, I agreed.

The three of us sat down at the oversized table. We had to lean in deeply to talk. We had to put on our coats and scarves to fight the icy draft. Could the Artichoke Dip be that good? Were the Striped Bass and Roasted Chicken going to be that much better than the hundreds of other restaurants in NYC serving similar dishes? It didn’t seem possible.

So we got up and left. We broke out of the prison and I vow never, ever, to return.

I am a free woman.

Neighborhood: Lower East Side

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 thisguy // Jan 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Bravo! Finally someone telling us the emperor has no clothes.

  • 2 herbert laurence // Jan 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    that place is laughable. we waited once two hours for a table. we waited by going to get beers at the german beer bar across the street and had to keep checking back to see if the table was ready. the six of us, seated at two tables pushed together. if we were american sized, i.e., fat, we would not have made it. at the end of the night, my friend looking and remarking on the 20 percent add-on tip, the waiter looked at us with a snooty look (not that he served us in the least and was affronted by the statement) and i said, to his face, “yeah, for the great service”. p.s. the food also sucks.

  • 3 Mark // Feb 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    And… they call themselves a restaurant…they dont even have a kitchen ! Maybe that is how they get around code issues ?!? They cook everything on HOT PLATES !! There isnt much to hide in the area they ‘cook’ their food in… take a look.. WHERE ARE THE STOVES ANYWAY ?????

  • 4 Jimbo // Feb 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Here here. I ate once in the early days before expansion, before the kitchen went to gas. Since then I have tried four times to have a drink there, to no avail. The hipster-themed bartender was too busy to even acknowledge me, so I left. Tried the bar in front, the bar in back, same difference. Tried to eat there too, the third time the wait was less than an hour, so we stuck it out. Contrary to the reviewer’s experience, we were seated promptly, and the food and service were definitely decent. I was definitely not appreciative of my wine coming out at 80 degrees. Seriously, if you are serving wine you shouldn’t store it in the kitchen. If my dining companion had not insisted on sticking it out, I never would have stayed. Would I go back? Maybe if I got hungry at 6.

  • 5 Peels — Cleaned My Plate // Dec 5, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    […] years ago I swore off Freemans and I’m pleased to report that staying on the wagon has been easy. I haven’t […]