What is it that Café Rouge does not understand about service?
Last Friday I visited their Manchester branch (next to the National Football Museum) for breakfast with my family. They had all travelled up from Hampshire to support Team GB in their first Olympic football game – me and my wife had come all the way from São Paulo in Brazil for this game.
We entered the restaurant and waited, and waited, and waited. I eventually went to fetch menus, but found they were the wrong menus – only featuring lunch items. Us having the menus finally meant the staff gave us a correct menu, and the waitress apologised and said she was running the entire café this morning all alone.
We finally placed our order and waited. And waited. And waited. Our coffee and juice had been served, but was all finished because we had been still waiting half an hour when I decided to ask where our food is.
I asked the waitress, who just brushed me off with a ‘it’s on the way’ – I said in the mildest possible way (given that I was now fed up with this café) that if they do not serve us in the next few minutes I’m leaving and I don’t expect a bill for the coffee.
Soon the food was being served and all was well. I asked for the bill and paid in cash immediately. It came to £48.10 and I left £48.20 – really not interested in giving a tip for such poor waiting service, then the change came back all in coppers.
So the manager decided that because I was a difficult customer, she would be difficult when giving change.
Well I can see that Dana was my server. Now let’s see if Café Rouge has anything to say about the way their manager behaved? I’m hoping they can tell me how this reflects great British customer service and what visitors to the country should expect.
Then again, whatever they say I know I’m never going back. Or my family, or my friends, or anyone else who reads this.
When you go to a restaurant that says it is Indian, or Chinese, or Thai, you expect the staff and management to have some knowledge of the cuisine they are selling, but I end up being disappointed by restaurants – in Brazil and in Europe – so often that I thought I would post a rant.
I was actually kicked out of an Italian restaurant in Spain (Santander) last August. I had complained that the food was terrible and sent back my starter, only to then find that my wife had an inedible starter *and* main course – at least my main course was OK. When we talked to the manager about it, he took great offence when we asked if he – or any of his staff – were Italian. When we asked further about which type of Italian food they were even attempting to cook, the manager got angry and said he was cooking Italian food Spanish-style for the locals.
He then booted us out. We had not eaten much, but had managed to consume a free bottle of wine so it was not a bad deal.
Today I went to an Indian restaurant in São Paulo and it felt the same. I ordered the combo meal in the vegetarian section of the menu, expecting some kind of veggie curry, only to get lettuce leaves with chunks of Minas cheese.
This was more of a fast food Indian restaurant, than a high class place, but I have tried several higher budget places in São Paulo and none of them serve anything that is at all authentic. One place I went to claims how they pride themselves on their Maharashtran cuisine, when everything remotely Indian on the menu looks more like north Indian food – and they even had things like pasta on the menu too.
I know that British restaurants are not perfect either. The bog-standard small-town Indian full of Friday night drinkers is usually run by Bangladeshis with dishes that originated in Birmingham rather than Bombay. But visit London and it is possible to easily find very good and authentic Indian food – especially around Southall (Punjabi, Gujurati) or Harrow (Tamil).
I know restaurants often modify food to suit local palates, but why don’t they offer a blend of the authentic and the modified, rather than trying to pass off nonsense dishes as “authentically Indian.”
I actually feel cheated. I go to a “good” restaurant hoping to learn something from the chef and management, not to find that I know an immeasurable amount more about the food than them.
I sent an email to the restaurant I was just at, asking exactly which part of India serves cheese from Minas Gerais on top of lettuce… if they answer, I’ll post it as a comment here…
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Tagged bangladeshi, bengali, brasil, brazil, cheese, chef, chinese, cuisine, food, indian, italian, madhu, maharashtra, manager, minas, mumbai, restaurant, sap paulo, spain, spanish, thai
A couple of weeks ago I went to a local pub in Ealing, The Rose and Crown, for dinner.
I was with my girlfriend, and she had a rough time with the dinner – she really thought it had not been cooked all that well… as far as I remember, it was some very overcooked pasta. But we ate what we could and shrugged as you typically do when pub food is a bit dodgy. Then, just as we were leaving, the boss Tom said hello and how was the food etc… she let him know that it’s usually fine, but tonight was really bad and she was disappointed.
He offered to give us a free meal the next time we were in there eating dinner. I pretty much forgot about this when I called in last weekend for dinner, but when I saw Tom, he actually reminded me about his promise. I had a tab running with dinner and a few drinks on it. When I went to pay the tab – assuming something like the main courses might have been free – I found the entire tab had been cleared! Even the drinks…
It’s the kind of gesture you think that pubs and restaurants really should do when they let you down, but it rarely happens, so thanks for that Tom – and dinner this weekend was great. No complaints this time!
Vikas Pota and his new book, India Inc, need no introduction. It has been suggested that I blitz the media with information whenever I have a new book coming out, but Vikas has surpassed my efforts and managed to get information about his book everywhere.
And it’s a timely book too. Just as the world is heading into a recovery from the past few years of economic slowdown, Vikas has studied and interviewed – at length – ten of the most important entrepreneurs in India. Rather than the usual corporate sound-bites, we have here a masterclass from each leader.
The official launch is at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Westminster tonight. If you are going to be there then please do say hello. If not, then take a look at the book website and get a copy. It’s time to hear what some real leaders are thinking.