Are you being served?

Being in the business of giving readers the real deal on the food industry, especially when it comes to anonymous reviews of newly-opened restaurant, pubs, bars and lounges, there are occasions when we end up revisiting places only to discover that things have changed swiftly, and at times, for the worse. It’s a barometer to separate the A-listers with the average Joes.

Take for example, this well-priced Asian eatery that earned sufficient curiosity and promise when it opened last year. Its menu, with sake bombs and a live sushi counter, was drawing in the crowds, and soon with two suburban outposts, it seemed to be making its way to lists of the city’s foodies. Alas, over a year later, we had to eat some of our words. Our first few minutes inside their Bandra outpost should have offered sufficient warning; for one, despite it being half-full, we had to wait for over five minutes for an attendant to arrive at our table, and this after much gesturing, hand-waving et al. Our table was positioned directly under a strong AC draft, and so on noticing a few empty tables around, we requested for a change only to be told that this wouldn’t be possible.

Hoping that things would prep up now that we were able to connect with the staff, we waited. And we waited, until the head attendant happened to spot our frantic hand-waving. Phew. Once done with the first round of orders, we were glad that the orders arrived on the same night at least. Refills of our drinks took ages to arrive. With the place filling in, our chances for better service dimmed, like the lighting inside. Attendants seemed to be in a crazy rush to hop from one table to another without hearing orders. Having said that, the food played saviour (we did run into some dodgy wine though). Clearly, our bad run as far as service went, continued till the end of our meal. So slack was the service that we didn’t even notice that our glasses (meant for water) were empty until we left. Nobody had bothered to fill these at the start. Unpardonable.

After checking with a few fellow foodies around town, we received the same response about the eatery: Good menu but pathetic service. This is the reality that dogs several such restaurants: the one-year-itch. It’s a reality check that restaurateurs must address after they’ve earned rave reviews and a solid customer base. Revisit your menu. Do surprise checks on your own staff. Mingle around to gauge the scenario on the floor. As long as the crowds are coming in, who cares about service? But it will only be a matter of time before word spreads and patrons find the next new cool space in the city. 

Mumbai’s discerning foodie has gotten more discerning.

The writer is Features Editor of mid-day

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