As I've said before, I'm no restaurant reviewer. But I do think our recent trip to one of the city's newest and most coveted restaurants (Sarcoa of course) deserves a few words!
Let me backtrack a bit....the first time we visited the Discovery Centre down at Pier 4 was last summer, for a charity auction event. The space was obviously fairly new, bright and airy - but there was nothing permanently in place there. How strange? we thought. This beautiful new building on the waterfront with nothing going on. A readymade patio outside, facing the lake, with no chance for Hamiltonians to enjoy it. It turns out that the centre has quite a history, first as a Parks Canada museum and educational centre, before being shut down in 2010.
Soon after we attended that charity event back in the summer of 2011, we began to hear rumblings that the plan was to move restaurants into the centre - a concept which we were obviously very excited about, given the site's potential.
Fast forward to this summer and the arrival of the first such restaurant, Sarcoa, which opened its doors in July.
I'll admit that I clearly underestimated the popularity (and hunger for) this type of restaurant in this location. We called them up one Friday soon after opening and asked about reservations for that weekend. They had nothing available. The same thing happened the following weekend. Eventually, we smartened up and made reservations a week ahead.
In spite of all of these positive developments, our first five minutes at Sarcoa proved to be the only negative part of our night. There was a bit of a lineup at the front to get seated. As we waited, an older couple in front of us was quarreling with several of the 'hosts' over their online reservation (the restaurant didn't seem to have a record of it). The hostess told the couple that they were fully booked up that night and the following night and if the couple wanted to make a reservation for later in the week, she could do that. They stormed out.
We didn't really give it a second thought until we were seated and ordering. We noticed that while the restaurant was busy, there were a number of tables around us that were empty - and stayed empty - for the entire 1.5-2 hours that we were there. Now I'm no restaurant manager, but I'm pretty sure that the couple could have eaten and been out before any late 'reservations' showed up....
This event led to an extended conversation between hubby and I about good business sense, and the fact that those customers will likely never return to Sarcoa. They've lost that couple for life, whereas if they'd just been a bit flexible and let them have a table for two for an hour, all that could have been averted. I don't want to bring up the "T" word, but when we were in Toronto, I did notice that in even the busiest restaurants downtown, they usually tried to accommodate walk-ins, even if it meant a lengthy wait at the bar. Rarely was anyone ever sent away.
But I digress...
The food itself was pretty good - Margherita pizza for me and burger and fries for hubby - as well as dessert (peach cobbler and brownies...mmm...) A great place for date night!
Unlike the couple who we encountered at the beginning of our Sarcoa visit, we would definitely make a return visit (possibly with out-of-towners) as its still such a gem on the waterfront. We also can't wait to try the other restaurant that is slated to open up next to Sarcoa soon!