(photo: I see dead people, love)
Contrary to popular belief, the Big Dig is not the most stressful place to work in Boston, it's Bin 26 Enoteca on Charles Street. The Beacon Hill eatery appears to be operating under some sort of fascist regime. First, it's a lovely restaurant with a lot of unnecessary rules. Second, the staff is so riddled with anxiety about enforcing those rules that you'd swear they'd be shot on sight for giving someone the wrong bread basket. For awhile there, it appeared that this month's Suppah Club was going to be a bit of a pressure cooker.
Goy arrived first and bellied up to the bar to have a glass of red while she waited for the rest of us. The bartender shooed her away, informing her that patrons were not permitted to sit at the bar and have a glass of wine unless they were also eating. When she said she had dinner reservations and was simply waiting for friends, she was told she could have a glass of wine on the bench in the waiting area or sit by herself at the table for eight until the rest of the party arrived. Choosing the lesser of two discomforts, she took to the table, self-consciously flipping through the loose-leaf wine list. Cameo, LPD, Code Red and I arrived shortly thereafter -- our party of eight had dwindled to five having lost Paige to the Mung, Nic to temp single mamahood and Auntie to a work dinner in Connecticut. When we informed the hostess of this change, she nearly had a panic attack. She looked like crazy-eyed Jan from the Brady Bunch movie. Suddenly, high drama. Jan dashed into the dining room to reset our table. When we tried to follow her, she beat us back with an imaginary whip and chair -- back! back! --into the waiting area where we were forced to communicate with Goy through a granite laundry chute. By the time we were allowed to take our seats, we were all stressed out.
Luckily our easy-on-the-eyes waiter brought vino and a doting, laid-back vibe. He called everyone "love" -- and he wasn't even a Brit. From there on, the evening went from distressed to de-stressed. We got loud over a nosh of yellowfin tuna and some Fusilli Jerry walnut cream pasta. While LPD supsected our Tuscan Tomato Soup was just a warmed up jar of Classico, it wasn't half bad. Don't be surprised if we start serving up jarred spaghetti sauce as an appetizer soup at the next dinner party. Good times, burds.
I'd definitely go back to Bin 26 but I suggest they post a rulebook on their Web site to promote a stress-free dining experience for their customers. And maybe some in-house shiatsu for the uptight staff.