May I just say it does not become an establishment to employ grumpy, snooty [and godawfully ugly] men as maitre des. Especially when said grumpy fart has no point to his existence except to annoy the bejeesus out of refined, suave, classy diners, such as ourselves.
Am making public the slip-shod treatment meted out to us jolly office-mongers, when we headed out to Mainland China, Church Street for much raved about lunch buffet.
All arrangements were smoothly executed the previous day. Over phonery items.
ME: Hi, yadda yadda yadda, nice weather, blah blah blah, do you still have a weekday lunch buffet at your fine dinery, kind lady?
KIND LADY RECEPTIONIST: Yes, of course, why not give it a shot? Alive and kicking as anything.
ME: Right ho, then expect around 30-40 of us from my orifice on the morrow. What shall be the financial damages?
KIND: INR 195/- per head, plus taxes.....
ME: Yes, I'm still waiting. So what will be the final financial damages, and let me be crystalline this time: how much INCLUDING taxes?
KIND: Oh, err, yes, of course. That comes to INR 219/- per head, Ma'am.
ME: [stiffly] Yes, thank you. It's a done deal, then. Let's shake on it.
So, anyway, any astute legal minds out there will notice that no stone was left unturned. All factoids were clarified, like butter. Weekday, check. Lunch Buffet, check. Cost per head, check.
In this glowing frame of mind, official invites were mailed out to orificers.
Come next day, and we folks [substantially lesser than 30-40, of course. That was just an empty threat] pranced off in the blasted heat to said restaurant. At the door we were kindly welcomed inside by a personality whom I assume was KIND LADY from previous day's conversation.
All looked rosy until then. The A/C had just begun to soothe frayed nerves. The faux Oriental music that they play in all such joints was mildly amusing. The ambience was building to a beautiful something-and-all when... when KIND LADY of our memoirs disappeared and a horrific substitution in the form of GRUMPY FART turned up. With nary a smile, and as if the weight of the whole weight rested on his podgy shoulders [and his podgy shoulders alone] he whisked us up and away to the 2nd floor of the dinery, away from the other human patrons enjoying their food items. His side of the story was it was "JUST FOR US." Aw shucks.
So anyway, that surprise being smoothly taken into stride, we were guided to a long row of tables attached bumper to bumper, so that at any point of time if Person A from the Left wanted to get up, the entire row of people on his side would have to shift base so he/she could move. This idea not being conducive to our sense of freedom and whatnot, we asked many times that the tables be rent asunder so that we, the jolly diners, could easily wander hither and thither. I mean, the whole essence of a buffet is you keep on jumping out of your seat to first survey the spread, then return to report your findings to your friends, then go back to clarify some minute details you had forgotten to check on your first soiree,and from then on, to get your first, second, third and fourth helpings. Right?
Our Lovely Shady Grumps had decided in his mind tha it would be better if we all just sat down at the beginning of our meal, and that instead of the Mahomet going to the mountain, the mountain would indeed come for us! That is to say, he said we should plonk ourselves fixedly on our seats, and that the buffet would be served to us at the table.
Ummm. Sorry, what?
Obviously, this threw the whole festive buffet atmosphere right out the window. But Grumps persisted. After our 3rd attempt at explaining to him that No, really, we'd LIKE to go for the buffet ourselves, we gave up. We were, after all, only human in the face of this monstrosity.
Only concession made: We got about a half foot of space in between tables. For what joy, I shall never know to my dying day.
So to cut a bloody long story short, the buffet came to us in painstakingly slow and unappetizing instalments. First, weak ,watered-down and warmish mocktails arrived. After about 3 years, the starters came. For a while after that again, nothing. Then soup. Followed by another thumb-twiddling episode. To preempt any further inexplicable waiting, we asked GRUMPO if he could please speed things up. Soddy fellow got slightly uppity. I believe he believes that the longer you take to serve your fooderies, the classier your joint will seem.
Sir? That is a fallacy. Please keep in mind for further use and pleasure.
The food in itself wasn't bad. Not to say it was excellentissime,, either. Just about so-so. And of course, we couldn't get rid of the niggling doubt that there were 13 more secret dishes on the buffet that they weren't letting us get a peek at. Grass-grosser-greener-side-theory.
All in all, on a scale of 1-10, that meal gets an overall rating of a piffling 4.78, purely on the merit of some good ol' Chinese fare.
The fact that we had to hand around spoons, knives, forks, plates, glasses and every other thing on the table for about half the time we were eating, didn't help matters. The waiters couldn't reach, you see. Too tight a fit. See above for half-foot spatial arrangements.
The clincher was, in the middle of all of this, a tragic incident occurred with a waiter shattering a glass of drinking water right at the feet [and trousers] of our belle of the ball that day- one Ms. L. Perfect shocked expression she had, as would make any thespian proud.
When the bill came, KIND LADY'S promise to me over the phone struck gold. 'Twas exactly as we had planned it. About the only part of the meal that was.
With a heavy heart we decided to leave tips for the poor incompetent waiters working under the whip of GRUMPS. For GRUMPS himself, we had no tip, no words, no nothing, no anything. We just wanted to leave him be.
Hope you read this someday, GRUMPO. And suffferrrrrrrr.....