Monday, November 29, 2010

Saturday Night Horror

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.

5 comments:

Moonshine said...

Why did you not tell the manager off.... you should not have paid to put up with crap!! Really... and it is fairly expensive!!

Lousy service spoils my entire day!!!!!!!

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - Lousy service ruins my restaurant visit too. And it was Saturday night dinner...imagine my disappointment. We did complain to the manager but he didn't look like he cared much. I would've made a bigger issue out of it (I was paying, weren't I?) but I was with The Boy, who is quite like The Knife in such matters, i.e. he doesn't believe in creating a scene. Sigh!

Moonshine said...

Double sigh!!!!!! Had we been together, we would have really told them off :)

Arkadev said...

On Sat, Dec 11, we went to Harvey's for lunch buffet (Rs. 400 includes all). We would rate our experience Excellent / Very good considering the price we paid.

* We (including two other males, both food connoisseurs) liked the food, the decor, the ambience, and the service.

* We had chicken with coriander soup. About 10 non veg appetizers were repeatedly and courtesously served in our table.

* They had about 7 non veg and 7 veg items. They ranged from good to excellent. I was pleasantly surprised to find a seafood item in the menu.

* There were two sweet dishes--gulab jamun (so-so, reminds more of homemade versions) and another square-shaped sweet (good).

* They serve cold drinks at extra cost. No hot or hard drinks.

One blogger has slammed Harvey's in http://ruesdeparis.blogspot.com/2010/11/saturday-night-horror.html

This almost prompted us to cancel our visit. However, our host had come here earlier this week and stuck to his guns. We had an enjoyable experience. We found that Harvey's has improved on most of the negative features mentioned in the blog review.

There's the proverbial saying: "It's not over until the fat lady sings." Where Harvey's will eventually end up will depend on the owners and the patrons it manages to attract.

Of course, the experience falls short of the "near ethereal" dining experience that one enjoys in five star restaurants, say in the USA. But, we enjoyed dining here. I am planning to come back here with my wife and our kids.

Scarlett said...

@Arkadev - It seems you've referred my post on Harvey's to someone/written about it somewhere/published it, but since you've left a comment on my blog as well, I'd like to reply.

You had an experience at Harvey's that you rate as "excellent & value for your money". That's totally possible, but I was met with dusty plates, dirty restaurant floor, rude/indifferent waiters, glasses not being filled unless you called the waiter, starters being served before the main course, cold food & a rock hard brownie. I wouldn't call such an experience "good" by any standard.

I agree I went on a Saturday night, but the restaurant wasn't even full, so there was no reason for such lousy service.

I'm willing to give a restaurant a second chance if it's only the food they messed up on the first time around. There's no excuse for rude waiters & lousy service. That's the death knell for me, as far as my re-visiting a restaurant is concerned. And please remember we ate a la carte where as you guys had the buffet, and buffets are more likely to be considered value for money b/c of the unlimited quantity of food allowed. And I did give the restaurant credit for the ambience/decor, but dirty floors are just not on. Neither was I expecting 5-star class, I just expected them to get their basics right.

I'm glad Harvey's works for you, it doesn't for me.