The Restaurant Pickle

Service Service Service

The most paramount of words in the Restaurant industry, that coupled with Gastronomic excellence and a setting inspired to comfort guests, add to the equation of a successful restaurant, and as my brother and I have been working with restaurants since our early adolescence, we have developed a particular critical eye and relentless acumen for service and spotting exactly what is wrong with a restaurant; anything from dirty, smudged cutlery to glasses with stains, and coffee served with the wrong saucers. As trite as it may seem, these things are strangley important; an attention to these details separate a good restaurant from an excellent restaurant, and much to the shagrine of our partners who cringe in their chairs as we utter a distressed syllable, or give a slight frown of the brow, which inevitably ends in ‘god you are so critical just eat your food’ , we simply won’t be happy unless we have our own place to prove those standards. One could write a compendium of do’s and don’t’s, but for this entry, I’ll keep it brief.

From returning back from the Middle East one has to forsake a certain amount of service and luxury, but I have 2 examples of completely and utterly disgusting service in restaurants here, which are just rediculous.

The Cafe Debacle:

Post flight and settling back into the country my girlfriend and I decide to go to the nearby town and grab a quick coffee and bite to eat. The first place we went to was a little cafe sandwich bar, nothing special. We sit down to a table with dishes on it, which is acceptable as it is a busy place and one assumes that it will be quickly cleaned. We sit…….and sit…..and sit; In the vain of innocence we assume they don’t know we are seated, so I rise make eye contact and do the standard, ‘hello we are here and would like to be served’ head nod and smile; 10 minutes pass and still nothing but a waft of warming left over salad poisoning our nostrils. My girlfriend looks at me knowingly almost intuitively as if she already knows what is going to happen, a replay of previous opinions shared; naturally she is right and I say ‘this is ridiculous’ but patience is not lost yet, non chalantly I move over to the counter and ask ‘would it be possible to have our table cleaned and our order taken?’ to which the server responds, ‘I’ll be with you in a minute love’. The gurgatation of the last word ‘love’ immediately makes my back rise, I sit at the table and wait, another 10 minutes pass and that is it. ‘grab your coat we are leaving this place is disgusting’. Wishing the place would burn to the ground as we left the the den of repulsive service we head to a little bistro across the road, all for a dose of caffine, again to our disappointed we are met with the response, ‘I would love to serve you coffee, but we have no milk’, an absolutely rediculous statement, a cafe/restaurant without milk for coffee? Even if they don’t have it they can get it, it is not like milk is on ration, or rises like the price of gold? Even engaging the grey matter or take the initiative to get milk at the risk of appeasing your customer mustn’t have been a notion to a restaurant owner. If there is much justice in this world these places will be shut without afflicting the restaurant standard any further.

The Indian Disaster:

this is a case of getting too big too soon; Chancing something different we chose not to club it at the weekend and have a more civilised affair by having a meal and drinks at the new chic indian brasserie in the city. This restaurant just launched and it is an ambitious peoject compared to their previous pokey restaurants they ran before. This restaurant is famous for its ‘authentic’ Indian cuisine, friendly service and a bill that didn’t leave you breathless at the end of the night.

We book a meal at their new 1oo seater restaurant in the expectation that it will be better than what we had been used to as it was trendy, chic and the new hive for the society swans to coo and woo and ruffle their plummage in a new setting.

As the saying goes, ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ this restaruant was basically a disgrace, to which they have no excuse for what happened on that night, these are seasoned restaurant owners and basically the ballsed it up. having booked for 8pm, we arrive slightly fashionably late at 8:15, jovial after a glass of wine and amused by the stairs that light with each step we are met by a friendly scarf wearing Maitre De (friendly which later turned into unctious and patronising) who informed us that there was a bit of a lead time as their schedule was running behind. This is perfectly fine as it is just opened a week and they are the new thing, so we sit for some more pre dinner drinks, chatting and enjoying the setting.

This was great until half an hour passes…..An hour…..an hour and a half….disgruntled but not letting it put a dampner on the night we knew the food would be worth the wait. As we are seated it takes at least another ten minutes to be handed what was supposed to be a menu, but it was much more like three sheets of printed green card stained and dog eared from other hungry, impatient thumbs no doubt. A look to the table and I can immediately see my side plate is dirty and with a quick glance to the table numbers, lo and behold, the lovely green card appears with hand written scrawls which can be discerned as numbers I guess. They must have gotten a deal on green card that week. Now the restaruant is spectacular, lovely and veneered so these small things should not have been missed, as the saying goes ‘the sum of all parts are greater than the whole’. Food is finally ordered and at this point the wine is flowing and we are settling into a disgruntled but merry hungry stupor, the conversation disappears and all we can fathom talking about is ‘when is the food getting here’ another agonising hour later, the starters are finally placed, and as much as they had different names they all resembled and astoundingly tasted the same, give or take an onion, dash of tumeric or clove of garlic.

The starters are wolfed down in a fashion similar to neanderthal etiquette, and yet we wait.. and wait and wait again for our main courses. A quick glance around the restaurant and one can immediately see that the gaggle are sharing the same awkward hungry experience. Our main courses arrive and the food was great, stodgy sweet peshawari nans, beautiful rice and variations on masalas to keep you warm for the winter; all great until I have to pull a strain of black hair from my teeth, the fork drops and I can say the night was capped off by that, or so I had hoped. The fat lady hadn’t quite sung that night, however she did let her cleavage sit on the table like two shanks of pork, so much so her embarrassed lover told her to ‘put them away’. With no food and constantly drinking the night away, the ‘fat lady’ saw here spinach starter again and like a green projectile hit the floor like an alien slime looking for a symbiote. …………. ‘Cheque Please!!!!’

One could put it down to teething problems or that it is a new venture, however these guys have been doing it for years, and know how to run a restaurant, perhaps their staff are new and took too many walk ins or the booking list wasn’t structured right?, but after a week of running these guys have no excuse, these weren’t as much faux pas as much as they were monumental mistakes in how to get it wrong.

I hope they make it up to their original standard, otherwise it will be another failing restaurant and but a flicker in the short memory of the society gaggle.

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