Slipping standards?

Perhaps it’s the weather, or the fact that the summer season prompts a mass exodus of hotel staff leaving on their hols, but this month I seem to have been on the sharp end of several disappointing dining experiences

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By  Laura Barnes Published  September 1, 2006

Slipping standards?|~||~||~|Perhaps it’s the weather, or the fact that the summer season prompts a mass exodus of hotel staff leaving on their hols, but this month I seem to have been on the sharp end of several disappointing dining experiences. I won’t name and shame, but one outlet in particular left me reeling in shock after what was perhaps the worst pork belly I have ever tasted. A regular to this particular restaurant, I look forward to visiting with friends and enjoying a meal usually of a high standard. However, on this particular visit the meal served seemed less pork and more belly. At more than (however many dirham), I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect something edible, but my meal more closely resembled pork scratchings than a tender cut of meat. I am the first to appreciate that not every dish can be perfect, but the way to remedy a less-than-perfect dish is to apologise to the diner and replace their meal. Not so. The staff felt it was appropriate to argue with me and claim that, in fact, the dish was meant to be like that. If I didn’t regularly visit the restaurant then I would have apologised profusely for my sincere lack of knowledge. However, I was left feeling that perhaps the old saying ‘the guest is always right’ doesn’t apply in Dubai. Perhaps the head chef was on holiday, or perhaps the waiter was having a bad day; but whatever the reason, it is never acceptable for restaurant staff to behave like this to paying guests. But despite a few minor altercations in restaurants across Dubai, I must add that some hotels have managed to exceed my expectations offering what can only be described as first-class service. One outlet in particular really excelled, despite friends warning me that the last time they had visited the Italian restaurant the food was not up to scratch. Not to be deterred, I visited the outlet regardless and was amazed by the exceptional service and beautiful food. In fact, I was so happy with the outlet I returned again with friends later the same week. I should confess at this point that, after venting my frustration earlier on about the poor quality and service at the unnamed outlet above, after two weeks away I could no longer resist and had to visit the scene of the crime. I steered clear of the pork and opted for lamb shank, and to my great satisfaction it was a perfect meal. The serving staff were polite and I can honestly say that I left the restaurant feeling satisfied that my previous experience was a one-off. However, is it right that I had to experience the bad service in the first place? How can you minimise collateral damage in your restaurant? Or is it unavoidable that perhaps once a year, when the heat rises both in and out of the kitchen, a diner will suffer? ||**||

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