Audrey Claire – Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You

One of the first restaurants that was recommended to me in Philly was Audrey Claire, a restaurant that unfortunately kept us at bay this weekend so I still haven’t had a chance to try it.

This past Saturday a group of six of us decided to go out to eat. Since it was already 6:30 when we starting calling around, we knew it was unlikely that we would get in to any of our first choices. We started by calling Twenty Manning, but they were packed for the night. However, the guy I spoke with was really friendly and even chatted with me about how he thought the previous week of cold had kept people at home, but that now by Saturday night when it wasn’t as brutally cold any more, that everyone had decided to go out. I told him we would try again another night.

So it seemed unlikely that we would have any better luck at Audrey Claire (transparently named after its owner), since the two restaurants are run by the same owner, are both very popular, and are located a block apart. But the friendly person who answered the phone at Audrey Claire sounded a lot more encouraging. He said he couldn’t make a reservation for us, but that if we came by, we could give him our name and cell phone number and then hang out at Twenty Manning for a drink while we waited. He said the wait was currently about 45 minutes. (Actually, this guy was chatty too and described their system of calling customers in when their table is ready as similar to what places like TGIF do by giving out beepers or something which alert you when your table is ready.) So off we went with three bottles of wine (Audrey Claire is BYOB) to put in our name.

We were only a few blocks away, so we arrived in under ten minutes. Of course the restaurant was packed, as expected. My husband stepped inside the door and a waiter took his name and told him the wait would be about 45 minutes, maybe longer. But my husband was a little skeptical about the “list” we were on because the waiter had simply written our names on a card and stuffed it into his pocket along with a few other cards.

But we trusted they would call us eventually and so we headed to Twenty Manning. I had a really yummy Lycheetini (in honor of the Chinese new year) and after 45 minutes we decided to head back to Audrey Claire. We didn’t want to chance losing our table if we were still at the bar at the other restaurant waiting to pay our bill.

Back at Audrey Claire, again my husband stepped inside while we waited outside, but this time he returned very quickly shaking his head. He told us that he had been told that the wait would be about 45 minutes more, and that still, they would call us when a table was ready!

Now maybe this is some kind of code that we’re supposed to know, that if you spend almost one hour waiting for a promised call and then are told you have to wait about another hour, that really they never intend to seat you at all. Or maybe it was just lack of attention on their part to things like taking names in order and actually calling people back. Either way, we were not impressed.

Fortunately, we did decide to try elsewhere for dinner. But we didn’t call and tell Audrey Claire to take us off the list, because we really weren’t sure we would get into another restaurant any quicker. We stopped briefly in Seafood Unlimited, but they were just as busy. So we left there and headed to Erawan, which I have also been wanting to try for some time. They took us in immediately. After a very nice dinner (tom ka gai and pad thai for me), we noted that even after all that time, Audrey Claire had never called us back.

So with full belly from elsewhere, I can only say that I do not recommend trying Audrey Claire on a cold winter’s night.

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