One of my pet peeves at a restaurant - and I mean something that turns me off completely and seals the deal as far as going back to the restaurant is concerned - is poor service. Service at a restaurant is as important for me as the food. It's 50-50. Unless I'm going to a low-end restaurant of course.
There's a new restaurant in town that's been advertizing pretty heavily in the papers of late. It's called 'Harvey's World Cuisine'.
Now, good "world cuisine" is something not readily available in this city outside of 5-star hotels. In fact, the phrase "world cuisine" is kind of a misnomer in itself as it stands mainly for Indian, Chinese and maybe Continental, if the owners of the restaurant are brave. The same holds true for Harvey's, except they have a couple of Thai and Mexican dishes thrown in as well to justify the "world cuisine" claim. The focus seems to be on Indian and Chinese though, as we weren't given the Continental menu till we asked for it, and most of the Continental dishes on the menu were not being served on the day we went. It was a Saturday night. Go figure.
Coming back to the point of this post - the service at Harvey's was pathetic.
Now, I'm not crazy. I don't expect 5-star level service at a non-5 star restaurant. But there are some basic things that I do expect such as a clean floor, plates without a layer of dust on them, water glasses being refilled without having to call out to the waiters everytime, appetizers being brought out before (and not after) the main course, hot food and desserts that are not burnt. Waiters who know their menu would also be nice. Harvey's failed to deliver on all of these counts.
The decor was really nice with white, wood and glass dominating the interiors but the entire floor was dirty. No one bothered to clean it up. The plates on our table had a layer of dust (!!) on them. The waiters didn't know their menu, didn't know if a dish was served with or without rice, and wouldn't refill our glasses with water unless we called out to them.
Since we were having Asian food, I requested our waiter to check with the chef if the sauteed vegetables that came with my dish could be replaced with stir fried vegetables (since when is Japanese food served with sauteed vegetables anyway?). He refused to even check!
And guess what they did after that?
They brought out our main course before the appetizer!!!!
If that's not a faux pas at a restaurant, blunder rather, I don't know what is. We told them to take the main course back and bring it after they'd served our starter. They did but they didn't bother to heat the dishes before bringing them back out. We were served cold chicken teriyaki and stir-fried prawns (that weren't stir-fried but doused in Chinese sauces). By then we were pretty pissed off to ask them to take the food back and heat it. That's not something I want to ask a restaurant to do! We didn't finish our meal and thought we'd make up for it with dessert. Once again, half the things mentioned on the dessert menu weren't available, so I ordered a brownie.
Now, how wrong can you go with a brownie?
Very wrong apparently, if you're Harvey's. The brownie was hard as rock. I couldn't cut it even with a knife. So I broke off a piece to check what it tasted like. It was burnt.
We complained to the manager. He apologized but didn't look sorry. We asked for the bill. They had charged us for bottled water which we never ordered. But that's a mistake I'm willing to forgive. I don't expect to have to check my bill at a restaurant, but I've been billed wrongly so many times that I don't mind checking.
There's no excuse for such pathetic levels of service though. Especially given that Harvey's is not exactly a low-end restaurant. A meal for two consisting of a starter, two main course dishes and a dessert cost us Rs 1000. Dirty floor, dusty plates, cold food, rock hard brownies and dumb waiters were complimentary. Needless to say I'm not going back. Neither am I recommending the place to anyone.