March 24, 2015
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The folks behind Katsuya, the successful group of Japanese restaurants developed by Sam Nazarian’s SBE group, do a great job at training their staff. A repeat guest at their restaurants is more than likely guaranteed good, informed service. Personally, I have always wondered how the servers get the orders right most of the time in spite of the loud music and the accompanying “authentic” shouted greetings of the sushi chefs.

What I enjoy a little less is that nasty habit to send you to the bar as your table is “going to be ready in just a few minutes”. That happened to my wife and me this past weekend as we were dining early prior to catching Alton Brown’s hilarious live show at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. We were led to the bar at Katsuya and we asked the bartender if he had a nice Pinot Noir by the glass. Indeed, he said, this just came in, and even let us taste it. It was good but not memorable… or I would remember its name, as I know the vast majority of the very good ones, whether they come from the Willamette Valley of Oregon or from California. He had not even finished pouring our glasses when the hostess materialized to tell us our table was ready and we should settle our bar tab. When the check was brought to me, it was… $56. Or $28 per glass in a restaurant where a glass of Veuve Cliquot Brut sells for $25.

Overall the bartender did his job: we asked for a recommendation and he gave us one. He even had us taste the wine. But he did not tell us that a glass of Pinot Noir was going to be the price of a used Pinto, not nor did he volunteer any of their other Pinots by the glass, starting at $12. A $28 glass of red wine does not belong on the wine list of a Japanese restaurant: it will sit in the bottle and be 3 to 8 days old in between being ordered, and therefore not at its peak.

And, by the way, when I tried to get the barkeep’s attention to settle the bill, he left another bartender to deal with me.

Katsuya is a good restaurant and I am a big fan of sushi. However, we won’t be returning.

What would YOU do, and whom would you blame for the loss of that pretty juicy customer?


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