Monday, September 28, 2009

Marco Polo in China

If you're in Calcutta and need a place to eat, the one place NOT to go is Marco Polo in China on Park Street.

It's a fairly expensive restaurant, by Calcutta standards at least. A meal for two with an alcoholic beverage each, an appetizer, a noodle/rice & an entree can cost you anywhere between Rs 1500-2000, depending on the drink you order and your choice of meat (prawns will cost you more than chicken/lamb/fish).

For a restaurant in that price range, the service is extremely shoddy and the waiters terribly clueless. It's a well-known fact that restaurants, shops & small businesses in Calcutta aren't as good on customer service as, say, those in Bombay. But if I'm paying approximately 2 grand for a meal, I expect some level of customer service. Consider this - they had very few chicken options as appetizers, so I asked them if they can make a relatively simple dish, pan fried chilly fish, that was on their menu, with chicken instead of fish. Their response was an outright no. I asked them if they could just check once regarding this, and the answer again was 'no'. Now, I've made this request before at much smaller & cheaper Chinese restaurants and they've happily obliged, so I know it's totally do-able. Their rudeness pretty much pissed me off, especially since they didn't even try to check with the chef if my request could be accomodated.

I asked the waiter if they had any Chinese sauces available as there were none at the table. His answer was 'no'! Can you imagine a Chinese restaurant without any Chinese sauces?? Neither can I. Even a tiny roadside Chinese restaurant will serve you the regular chilly sauce-soya-vinegar combo!!

We had ordered Lat Mei Kai for starters. It's a spicy pan fried Thai chicken dish that goes well with the red sweet sauce (that looks like a diluted version of tomato ketchup) you get at any decent Chinese restaurant. I asked the waiter if they had the sauce available, though I was pretty sure it was a request in vain. This time he didn't say no. I was about to fall off my chair in shock when he came to me with a bowl of tomato ketchup!!!!! I was too stunned to speak.

The food was upsetting as well. Our appetizer was burnt and the Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce we had ordered tasted more like Chicken in Sweet Garlic Sauce. And the worst of it all? They had completely screwed up the Mojito we had paid Rs 250 for! It tasted like fresh lime water!!!

The ambience of the restaurant too was pretty confused. It's like they couldn't make up their mind whether they wanted to be a Chinese or a Bengali restaurant. They call themselves Marco Polo in China but they have Indian food as well as Pastas on offer, and the ambience is very Bengali!! Go figure.

My verdict : TWO THUMBS DOWN

PS: Incidentally, they have another branch on Sarat Bose Road (or Lansdowne Road as it's more commonly known) called 'Marco Polo' (only) that serves Indian & Continental. That's a much better bet. I've had continental there, and the food is much better, though both restaurants would fall in the same price range.


Moonshine said...

Especially annoying when these places charge a bomb!!! Incidentally, i went to a place recently called Karavalli.. i was almost full after having starters and appam.. i felt like a little more but not one full i refused another helping .. but guy serving us heard this and made his chef make a very small appam so that i could eat properly... and that guy designed like a flower!!!! Not many places do such things!!! It was really sweet!!!

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - It's really touching when restaurants do small things like that to show they value you as a customer. The tip I give is directly proportional to the service I receive. I believe waiters must earn their tip, I'm not going to pay for being treated shabbily.