Dining out is a treat…isn’t it?

While the twenty something drinks waiter took our order I observed he was going light on top. Had he been standing to attention I probably wouldn’t have noticed but he was half bent, frantically cleaning the tables next to us. The cleaning didn’t deter him from serving us our drinks, eventually, but it did deter me from thinking “Ghee, the hospitality in this grandiose establishment is amazing. I’ll definitely be back.”

Some time later the hostess appeared and led us to a table that was propping a door open so folk could get to the bar, the toilet, and the outdoor smoking area.  Footfall was inevitable. One of my sisters suggested another table further into the dinning room. The hostess shrugged her shoulders and handed us menus. Another twenty minutes passed before our order was taken. The restaurant wasn’t overly busy but after the food was served no one returned to our table to ask if everything was okay. It wasn’t, but that’s beside the point, the point being our dining experience felt more like an endurance test rather than a fun and relaxing evening out.

We were celebrating my sister’s birthday. I have three sisters and it’s something we do, meet up on each other’s birthday. That’s four meals a year and a great way to catch up while enjoying some good food. Notice I said good food, not great food. We are not hard to please, the choices are simple, a nice soup, a tasty piece of fish or chicken, fresh vegetables, garden salad, a cup of tea but menus can get complicated with their flowery language and exotic wording so hospitality is vital to creating that feeling you get when you know you are being looked after.

Unfortunately, that is not how we felt on our most recent rendezvous. Instead, we left feeling unsatisfied with our minds firmly made up that we would never be back. Regarding the food, one meal was okay, another didn’t have what was supposed to be in it, and my own meal was just a poor choice, a tasteless sloppy excuse for a vegetable curry full of onion and peppers, (Note to self: stick to baked potato and garden salad) but my sister’s dish was raw and cold in the inside. Not one to complain, my sister had to be persuaded to speak up when we decided to leave. The price of her meal was knocked off the bill but what joy is there in getting a freebie when the food was inedible and you are actually considering stopping at the chippie on the way home?

This is not the only poor dining experience I have had of late. Unfriendly, impersonal and rushed service bordering on indifference and overpriced mediocre food served up with forgetfulness and extra charges (just because I requested cherry tomatoes instead of croutons in my Caesar salad) is turning me off dining out and I have reached the conclusion that there is just not enough care and attention going into looking after the customer in the dining out industry.

Next birthday, which happens to be in July, we have decided to dine alfresco and tapas style in the fresh outdoors. With the amount of outstanding beauty spots around us we will be spoilt for choice. Each one of us will bring along a simple nutritious dish, our own wine and choice of music and no one will be expected to sit in the middle of a doorway.  Why suffer bad service, cranky inattentive waiters, poor food, and a supersized bill that isn’t reflective of the service received? After all dining out is a treat, isn’t it?