Fed Up

The other day I was reading a blog post on bad service. This post was more to do with cell phone companies or bank call centres. I have suffered those as well as nincompoops at Malls. In fact I ended up with a bad headache after my visit to Magnet at Mahim yesterday and needed TWO saridons and some biriyani to set me right.
There are certain things which really irritate me in the world of food. In fact I had initally began this blog to share my restaurant cribs - hence 'candid thoughts'.

The biggest issue is placing an order on the phone. I really have to labour in most places except a few like Khaane Khaas and Mr Chows. My biggest problem is that the call is taken by someone who has no idea about the business that are in or they fare they offer. So I might be specifying that I want a pesto with very little cream to someone who has no idea what a pesto is. The problem is compounded if you want to ask about a dish before deciding what to order. Another thing which takes my goat is when one launches into the full flow of the order, gives all the specifics, only to hear the person say that he needs to go and speak to someone first. So why answer the phone Dumbo?! Khaane Khaas is one of the few places where the friendly owners take the call and who can answer all one's questions

Right up there with the intellectually challenged phone call takers are their twins who take orders at restaurants. And this extends to very fancy places like 5 Stars such as J W Mariott (kept referring to a blueberry cheese cake as a chocolate cake because the placard said that), posh restaurants such as Tetsuma (couldn't describe the difference between maki sush or sushi) or the very popular Basilico (response to further describe the sauce in a steak in rosemary sauce was 'it is a rosemary sauce'). You have waiters who just can't explain what a dish is if you ask them to describe the dish. Often the idea to go to a fancy restaurant is to try out things which one doesn't have at home. Uneducated waiters defeat the purpose. I was reading in Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential about how they would train the waiters about the order of the day. Most Bombay restaurants have a fixed menu so this training is not even required every day.

My other big rant is against people who don't serve things properly. Most shops including Just Around the Corner, Gaylords, Brios, etc over heat croissant, puffs when they reheat them. These need to just be warmed. 20 - 30 seconds in the micro is fine. Instead, they heat these for a minute or so. Why torch them for a minute? One just has to be a bit thoughtful. If you over heat a patty then its basis crispness goes and it becomes too hot and as limp. As limp as the brains of the person who assassinated it. This will rarely happen at Candies or Gloria's Jeans for example.

Talking of Coffee Shops why do places like Barista and Coffee day often serve lukewarm coffee? Is it because of the added milk? Is it because the cup just lies in the counter for ages before someone is kind enough to serve it? Don't they know that coffee should be piping hot? If not then it should be a cold coffee. There is no such thing as room temperature coffee.

I have come across situations, especially in continental places where the food is served cold at the table. Some of the persistent sinners are Spaghetti Kitchen, JATC (cold omelets, waffles) and Noodle Bar (specially the Wok). Here I appreciate Out Of The Blue where the chef makes the pasta and gets its straight to the table.

In fact this blog owes its existence to Spaghetti Kitchen and JATC.

There is nothing which puts me off more than hair in food. A recent delivery from Kakori House had more hair in the kebab and biriyani than I have on my head!

I was also a bit irritated with a place like Tetsuma recently which said they would only serve bottled water and then charged 84 Rs for it. Do you meant to say that a place which charges an average of Rs 400 per dish can't provide drinking water?

I have a few favourites when it comes to service:

  • Khaane Khaas: for their willingness to customise, to send orders no matter how small, to be able to guide you if you have questions, and to always serve warm and interested on the phone
  • Candies: as they keep smiling through the chaos. Though one has to struggle to get their attention at times and sometimes they don't give the mini tarts
  • Oh Calcutta: for always recognising regular customers (or at least me), guiding you through their orders and giving you odd portions occasionally if required (e.g. half portions of rice, 5 fish fries if you have 5 people, even if that means 2.5 plates)
  • Mc Donalds: For their sheer efficiency and speed
  • Shiv Sagar Turner Rd: For delivering small quantities, even just a plate of idlis
  • Trafalgar Chowk at Bandra. I have found the owner as well as his manager to be very well versed about the menu and to give very good tips on the few occasions that we have gone there. The owner had referred to his restaurant as a 'chef run restaurant'.

I guess what matters is the involvement of the ownerhip

5