Last night we attended the opening night of The World Cafe', WXPN's (88.5 fm) new studio and affiliated restaurant.
What a spot!
For once, we weren't packed in like sardines. There was no smoking, so I didn't smell like an ash tray when I got home. Fabulous acoustics. The place seats only 300 people: you can see the stage no matter where you sit. No need for TV monitors, binoculars, or to squint, straining your eyes to find that extra-special speck, purported to be the headliner you just paid an inordinate amount of money to "see."
Great performances, too. David Dye (Swarthmore College, class of '72!) is the godfather of the World Cafe' show; Michaela Majoun seems to be the godmother of the venue. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts (and believe me, my best efforts are very good), I just cannot find the name of the opening act (a male singer). He was funny and had a good strong voice.
Now, for the main point. Jonatha Brooke rocks. I mean, she rrocksss. She has a great stage presence, a sweet-smoky-powerful-nuanced voice, and the songs--many of which are her own--were superb. She's got great, natural moves--she and her band, I should say, because they were clearly in synch. I have her CD, Steady Pull. It's very good, but it's just no match for Jonatha in person.
Spectacular as were Jonatha Brooke, her band and the venue, the food situation was out-of-control miserable. By this I mean: chaotic, unproductive/stingy, and disappointing to at least the power of three. Basically, other than a gigantic sauteed vegetable (which I don't consider to be a legitimate entree), there were only three main dishes on the menu. We ordered the first one, but they were out of it. So we ordered the second one. Well, gosh they were out of that too. The third was, as I recall, a hamburger with a pretentious description, and I was not paying something on the order of 19 bucks for its renaming.....especially when the appetizers (most of which they were also out of) puny, dry, and equally overpriced. I ordered a glass of chardonnay, of which there were two choices, one for $9 and one for $10. Did I say "glass?" Oh, oops, mistake. That is not entirely accurate. The portion actually constituted a fraction (e.g. 1/4) of a glass.
I understand that it was opening night, and am not one to make a stink. We gently suggested to the waiter, who was apologizing incessantly while producing almost nothing, that perhaps given the inability of the establishment to produce food, it would behoove them to be a bit less stingy with the drink: sorry, no dice. The bartender would not permit it.
So, we got 2 teensy, dry crab cakes, 1 small order of hummus, and two glass-fractions of wine. With tip (hey, we were frustrated, but we're not mean!), the bill came to $96 and change. (We had already paid $40 each to see Jonatha Brooke, but that was a bargain).
As we were leaving, the waiter once again said, "cut us a break." Geez I thought it was the other way around. We did cut you a break. We were pleasant, polite, and understanding. But when you, the establishment, screw up, isn't it you who is supposed to cut us a break? Being stingy even as you mess up is extremely uncool. And the World Cafe' is sooo close to being exceptionally cool. Are you listening, guys? I sure hope so. For your sake.... and for mine. I badly want this thing to work!