Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Dinner = Distaster

Have you ever walked out of a restaurant? I never had, until last night. Not even during the Great Indian Meal Debacle in Surry Hills, did we consider walking out. And that dinner involved us writing our own orders on a napkin, personally taking it to the kitchen ourselves and pushing the corks of our wine bottles in with cutlery we sourced ourselves from a dresser.

I had booked this french restaurant several weeks ago, and it's a restaurant we go to once every few months for a treat (it being rather expensive). I had chosen the 8:30pm sitting and five course menu with wine included for $185. The cheaper version was the 6:30pm sitting with three courses, but I wanted to splash out and have a nice relaxing night.


After waiting for 10 minutes in a queue in the entrance of the restaurant with no attention by waitstaff, we were directed to our table which was.... right next to the queue. As I had specifically booked a table outside, I was disappointed to be sat inside, next to the kitchen, with other couples standing around us. Very romantic.

I started to get anxious - I don't like crowds and I was very hungry. At 9pm - yes, a full 20 minutes after we sat down, and with no bread or water to sate us, a waiter finally got around to taking our order.

After we ordered I looked at the Bloke who was doing his best to distract me from the awfulness of the night, lent over and said:

"Let's just go - I don't see us actually getting any food or drink for at least another 20 minutes"

I was dizzy from hunger and could have gnawed my own arm off at that point. The Bloke, being English, was hesitant.

But we've both worked in the service industry and we know when things are not right. Having two settings and cramming everyone in was not right. People want to linger over a romantic meal and so they should be able to. The fist sitting had not even half departed before the second sitting arrived, hence the queue of people waiting for tables.

The wait-staff were absolutely rushed off their feet and were unable to cope, making for bad (if not intentionally) service.

We got up and left, with the Bloke informing our waiter that we were leaving. At least there was one more free table for the hungry hoards who were still milling around our former table.

We walked home, opened a bottle of red and stuck some food in the microwave. I resolutely remained in my black mini-dress and heels as we crashed on the couch and popped "The Forbidden Kingdom" (which was hilarious and highly recommended if you're into kung fu movies) into the dvd player. We cuddled up and had a lovely night in.

I felt justified and empowered in leaving the restaurant. I'm just a bit sad that a restaurant that I so often recommend let us down so badly.


  1. Sad to have such a disappointment when you're looking forward to "splashing out" a bit, but it sounds as if the two of you rescued the really important part of the evening! Once you're all dolled up and in the mood, even a bag from the local takeaway or microwave meal can make a romantic/fun dinner.

    Happy day-after-Valentine's-Day to you!

  2. I'm glad to hear that you salvaged the evening. Isn't it awful when you have a bad experience at a place that you have recommended.

  3. Hey, in these tough economic times it is more important than ever to focus on the customer to ensure repeat business. So by cramming people in for the short term quick buck, they are risking their long term future.

    Sometimes those improvised nights can be the best ones.

  4. That's too bad! The last time I had terrible service was about three years ago. It's hard not to take it personallly!

  5. Glad you had a fun night anyway. Perhaps a letter pointing out the shortcomings of the evening wouldn't go astray. You never know they might make it up to you- perhaps it was a one-off if you usually like it.

  6. That sort of experience could really put you off ever going there again. McDonald's never seems to havre this problem!

  7. The simplest things are often the best! (and the cheapest too!)