Saturday 9 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Of restaurants that upset the peace of the belly

Service matters
I am usually one to sing the praises of a restaurant if I both enjoyed my meal and the service both of which are very important to me regardless of cost.
Where the meal has been very good and the service leaving much to be desired, in fact, to be honest, the service for me is part of the meal, it is the spice, enhancing the aroma, giving the right ambience making it all worthwhile.
Paris is somewhat known for atrociously rude waiters, they have their moods but for me, many things are evident, I walked into the restaurant of my own volition and I am paying; it means I will not take aggro with my food and I can so easily drop my napkin on the table and walk out.
I once called a French waiter aside and told him, “If you are not happy with us being here, we’ll leave, we don’t take aggro with our food and honestly, I don’t care for his manner.”
I can be generous but do not create an atmosphere where the only tip you get is best for the tip, my leftovers after I could stomach no more.
Wait a bit before praise
Last weekend, we searched out a nice Brazilian restaurant in the West-End, good food, good music, an ethnic feel and amazing company, however, before I could get to my keyboard to write about it, having all decided we will all return at a later date, I was already feeling queasy and queer with the evidence of an unfortunate mishap, by the morning, everyone had a story – we know that only the bravest of the most foolhardy of us will return for second helpings of that experience.
Now, one can only imagine the glee of those who might just have secured a table at Copenhagen’s Noma which gastronomic buffs have awarded the superfluous, if not hoity-toity title of the World’s Best Restaurant for three years running.
That far North?
Denmark? It does beggar belief to me because I belong to the school of thought that the further away you are from the equator the less bright colours your local food has, something to do with nature, weather and local agriculture – but now the world is a much smaller place than when spices travelled by clipper from the East Indies, you can find global foods anywhere there is means to convey its freshness or preserved state to some other place.
In any case, having ate, drank and been merry, 67 out of 78 patrons that flaunted their bookings apparently either saw their meals again or had it run out of them with great discomfort, they had picked up the Norovirus in the world’s best restaurant, one can only think that the meal would have been as memorable as it would have been forgettable – what an experience.
What goes out came in
The Norovirus could well be unpalatably referred to as the shit-virus, at the great risk of being crude, it derives from faecal matter – perish the thought, you say – there? Yes, even best restaurants are, well...
To compound the matter, the visit of the authorities into the kitchen and the office showed a number of hygiene shortcomings and probably an apparent lack of responsiveness to complaining customers due to the hubris of status – the restaurant is too busy being the best that it conveniently delivered the worst after-dinner experience to the diners – any wise setup will quickly bake and eat humble pie and keep a very low profile on being the best at delivering strange food and not being concerned about it.
Beware that your great repute does not leave you less caring about the smallest things that can bring great grief to more than one.

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