We dined at The Garlic last year, were seated in a cozy area in the dining room, had a great experience, looked forward to returning again this year. Last night, Friday, we arrived about 7:30 and as expected it was quite busy; we were told it would be about a 45 minute wait, but that was no problem, we were looking forward to a repeat of the great food, service and atmosphere of last year.
During our wait I went to the bar for something to drink for my wife and me; in doing so I could see 2-3 tables that were for 2 people each that were obviously placed in an aisle just to have 2-3 more tables. I saw a couple dining at one of the tables and felt sorry because they were seated at a table that was placed on one side of an aisle way, there was continuous foot traffic going by them, they were right next to the bar, behind the musician and underneath the musician's sound speaker. Not a very cozy or comfortable dining arrangement.
In the meantime we had suggested that we did not wish to have first available, which could have included an outdoors environment, rather reflecting on last years fine dining experience we said we would wait until an opening was available inside. We patiently waited, enjoying the open air garden area and watching and listening to the other anxious soon-to be-diners who were as excited as we were to have The Garlic experience.
Our name was called… this was it, the great Italian dining experience that we had a year ago was within our grasp, only seconds away. We were led by the wait staff through the open air garden area, then a turn left past the brick oven, now into the entrance of the building...just a few more seconds now and we'll be reliving that awesome, cozy experience of last year. We went past the themed dishes on the right, we made a right, I saw the bar ahead of me, so noisy, then a quick left and there was the musician to the right of us, and I knew just a few more steps and we would be in the main dining area, the experience we talked about reliving was in sight.
But no, wait, the young man stopped behind the musician! He motioned for us to take the table underneath the sound speaker exactly where that unfortunate couple sat earlier. I gasped, I blinked, how could this be, not here, not now, but alas we had already waited 30-45 minutes. Dare we kindly offer to wait another 30-45 minutes, or take the table....we took the table, the table in the aisle, diagonally across from the bar, behind the musician, underneath the sound speaker and where you received a constant breeze from all the foot traffic that went past. No worries, we thought "we can do this, it's all a state of mind" we said to ourselves, this is The Garlic and it will be great.
The waitress came to us while the musician was playing and singing, his melodic music resonated with a high decibel through our ears from the speaker above us. The waitress had to make quick moves to keep from being in the way of the foot traffic in the aisle behind her because the space was narrow due to our table and 1-2 others in the same vicinity. The three of us huddled our heads close together as if we were huddling for a crucial 4th down and 1 call. But, this wasn't football, this was the The Garlic, but nonetheless we had to huddle in order to hear.
The waitress left to give us time to look over the menus, then I saw my wife miming. What was this, is she trying to be funny; but then I realized she wasn't miming, she was speaking, I just could not hear her. I cupped my ear, leaned forward, and alas I could hear my wife's voice in a whisper as she was actually, short of yelling, giving her voice all she could. I responded back, she then cupped her ear, leaned forward, etc. I then wondered if it would be best to ask my wife what sounded good to her on the menu by texting her with my phone as our eyes were not affected by the noise, but I then thought that was ridiculous. So I then cupped my hands around my mouth and had a conversation with my wife while she cupped the hand over her ear, and then vice versa. The art of improvisation, no texting needed here.
Our food had arrived, first the famous garlic and the artichoke dip appetizer, then the entree's. Ahhh, everything tasted great, and the waitress was superb. But the noise and the foot traffic, we could not block them from our minds regardless of how good the food and service was. It felt what it might be like if you used your imagination to be at a busy take out window on I-4 during rush hour.
I had now crossed into a state that went from ridiculous to sublime, I actually began counting the number of times that people walked past us. I was now more focused on the traffic and noise than the delicious meal before me that was calling me to enjoy. But I would not give in to that temptation, I would not be thwarted, I must continue my quest, I must prevail, I must continue the count.
In one six minute period 100 people walked past us, literally within inches of our aisle table...and food; that is a rate of once very 3.6 seconds. Then I was right, it was not my imagination, there was a lot of foot traffic next to what I had hoped was going to be a cozy table. But being a statistically minded person, I thought to give validity to the test, it must be done again to prove the persistency of that foot traffic. My second count yielded a little better number of 100 people walking by in ten minutes yielding an average of one person every 6 seconds. So based on these numbers it would appear our aisle table in one hour was passed by people 600 or more times. So much for cozy.
We gave the score of three as it was a split between the great service by the waitress and the excellent food and the really unplanned, unanticipated dining experience of being sat near the nosiest part of the restaurant and in a table that was placed in the aisle just so, it appears, The Garlic could squeeze in 2-3 more tables.
Our lesson learned is to advise up front that we do not want to sit near the bar or musician if we are looking for a cozier experience, whether at The Garlic or elsewhere. I would hope that The Garlic, from this email, is to either remove the aisle tables as it is frustrating to spend over $90 and not have a good dining experience, (it was like a school cafeteria) or ask if patrons mind dining in the bar and entertainment area before directing them to their table.
We have decided we will still be customers of the The Garlic, but only on a take out basis.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.