Calle Ocho

[CLOSED at this location]

This joint is certainly impressive enough when you first walk in. The front bar, which is separated from the dining room beyond, is well lit, loungey and someone obviously took some time making it feel both stylish and comfortable. As one moves in to the main space, it is shocking how spacious and airy the place truly is. For some reason, the restaurant seems like it should be much more cozy and intimate. That’s not to say the space isn’t well designed and rather interesting, only that its many rooms and high ceilings seem kind of out-of-place in the neighborhood. I knew we were in for a long night when our waiter didn’t write our order down. Despite there only being four of us, I just knew he was gonna fuck it up–and it would be my dinner he did it to. Of course, he came back and put the wrong fish in front of me. Then, when I alerted him to the fact–after grimacing and shooting my mates that “I told you so” glare–he practically argued with me about what I ordered. After convincing him that I wasn’t a total ‘tard and certainly knew what I ordered, he took it away. Ten minutes later he came back with the same damn plate! I can only assume he threw it under some heat lamps and brought it back out in some harebrained scheme to fool me into accepting his idiocy. I looked at him like I might eat his children–if he had any. He sort of apologized and finally brought me my tuna while everyone else was sopping up the last of their meals. Did they offer a free coffee? Uh, no. Did the guy grovel at my feet and pray the Mr. Hipster didn’t smear his blood all over the walls and his name all over the Internet? Hardly. The tuna was just okay, but maybe it was the bile in my mouth that ruined the taste. How hard is it to take out a damn pen you fuckin’ showoff? Anyway, pet peeves aside, I’d recommend dropping by for a drink at the bar, and taking a walk around the dining room but would skip the horrendous service and merely serviceable grub. [MF]

45 West 81st St.