A family outing to celebrate Father's Day last night, 19 June 2011. We were five adults with a 7.30pm booking. We ordered drinks – a delicious rose flavoured martini for me and beers for the others, while we looked at the menus. Only four tables were occupied and the a la carte menu was not on the table – we had to ask for it. Common sense should have told me that they clearly didn't have the turn-over to provide, freshly cooked, the extensive a la carte range of dishes. I should have stuck to the all-inclusive menu, as my family did, but I didn't fancy any of the options. So I ended up being served the worst duck curry I have ever tasted. I like duck curry and often enjoy the Busaba Eathai version which, despite not always containing as much meat at you'd like, is always freshly cooked, totally delicious, and frankly a real treat. I also regularly cook curries, using all fresh ingredients, so I know a load of old rubbish when I'm served it. Very few small scrawny scraps of leathery old meat – way worse than the sort of left-overs you feed the family pet from the turkey a few days after Christmas! These had clearly been added, at a late stage, to an already prepared highly spiced curry sauce, so the flavour of it hadn't penetrated the meat, whose ‘old’ taste could not be disguised. It was tarted up with three kumquats and some large pieces of soggy diced carrot and a couple of other slimy vegetables. It really did taste disgusting, and what was most alarming was my husband's reaction to it – “Horrible, tastes really weird”, and this from a man known as the human hoover in our house because he will eat anything, and insists on finishing off any old food he can lay hands on!
Not wanting to spoil the outing, I ate a few mouthfuls of the jasmine rice I'd also ordered, and sipped our overpriced South African white wine. My family enjoyed their meals, especially the minced beef starter with peanuts and lettuce leaves, and the white chocolate and cranberry cheesecake dessert. But I'm getting ahead of myself – because when the dour-faced waiter came to clear our main course dishes, I told him my uneaten curry was awful. Instead of being apologetic or conciliatory, he said he'd asked if everything was ok, so I should have told him and he would have given me something else. I pointed out that I was the last person served at our table and had had just a mouthful of rice when he asked how our food was. Also that I didn't want anything else – just a freshly cooked version of the £12.95 curry I'd ordered. He repeated himself, so I did the same. This blatant and incredible lack of customer service added insult to injury. My son said he’d noticed on previous visits the waiter’s brusque manner.
My son paid the bill, in full, when I was in the loo. If I’d been paying for that meal, I would have insisted on their deducting the cost of my curry. Anyway, I asked to speak to the manageress on our way out. I told her that, as a courtesy, I wanted her to know I’d be writing an online review (my first ever by the way – have never before had a dining experience so unpleasant I wanted to share it). I said the inedible curry was bad enough but her waiter’s rude manner was unacceptable. She asked if she could do anything to sort things. Too late! She was well aware of my complaint at the time as she subsequently got involved herself in serving our desserts. I said I wouldn’t be eating there again, that she shouldn’t include dishes on her a la carte menu if she couldn’t deliver them, and she should get some staff training underway. What I forgot to mention to her were the tiny black flies swooping over our heads all evening – never a good sign in a restaurant I think.