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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Familiarity breeds Contempt

Was at Pine Court @ Mandarin Hotel over the weekend for a triple celebration. E's birthday + Nephew C's birthday + reunion dinner with extended family.

The first thing that went wrong when we sat down was there weren't enough chairs. They had given us seating for 10 adult + 2 baby chairs instead of 12 adult + 2 baby chairs. Thankfully we had 1 less adult in attendance but then there was no way to squeeze in that 1 chair in the table originally meant for 10.

Perhaps, just to give them the benefit of doubt, there was really communication mix-up from us or between us and the restuarant, but the ONLY solution that they could come up with was to move the baby chairs further back so that they will free up space for the adult chairs. They also didnt have enough baby chairs with the serving table, so what gives? The tots don't have to eat?

We were flustered becos we had old people with us and didnt want to create a scene, but that ONLY "solution" was not acceptable. In the end, WE gave them the solution to change 1 adult chair to squeeze a child in, and some adults sitting precariously at the edge of their chairs to make room for 1 more.

The restuarant was 70% full. There was a family of 4-5 tables celebrating a birthday, and a 5 tables of Japs (tour?) and scattered guests.

I have a lowly expectation for service, even from a used-to-be-fine-dining restuarant like Pine Court, but they went below my lowly expectations.

The food came at uneven pace, and the waiter and waitresses decided to push our individual plates aside to make room for new dishes, without so much as an "excuse me". Sometimes even leaning across us while we were eating to leave the dishes hurriedly.

They even did that to my Grandma, and I was so angry that I almost bang the table and shouted at them. In the end, I threw down the chop sticks in disgust and held on to Baby J's shoulder to pretend that I didnt want her to be scalded by the hot dishes being served. I think Dad and Sis could see my displeasure but we were all trying to control our temper to not mar the triple celebrations and frighten Grandma.

For once, they did away with those ridiculour individual pots of tea with a burning tea light each (@ S$5+++), and served tea in regular tea pot for each table.

Unfortunately, even this managed a screw up. We were a table of total 13 people, how many cups of tea can a regular tea pot serve?

Rather than sitting blissfully for tea to be served to us, we served ourselves.

Rather than them noticing that the tea pot is empty (with the lid up) we had to ask them to refill.

After a while, the tea pot didnt come back.

We asked, they looked blankly and told us that it was being refilled.

We waited still no tea and asked again, then a waitress came back with a pot in hand.

We expected tea to be served but NOOOO.... we asked again. The same waitress replied with a finger pointing to the empty table NEXT to us "Your table too full, so I left the tea pot on THAT table". This was so ludicious that I had to give her a round of applause, AND.... wait for it.... still no serving of tea.

In the end, I had to extricate myself from our tight seating to bring the tea pot over and poured myself tea. ONLY THEN did another waitress deigned to come over to take over the tea pot to serve the rest of us.

Now, we go to Pine Court often, at least once a month, more likely twice to 3 times, just because mom has some kind of gourment membership, and knows the waitresses. So much so that it was almost de rigour for us to get free deserts after our meals.

Unfortunately, familiarity breeds contempt. Instead of treating their very regular customer with respect and efficient service, they chose to serve those other tables first. What? Regular customers are supposed to be more understanding and forgiving? Noooo... they become no-longer-regular customers.

During that triple-celebration dinner, I kept wondering if we had ordered the cheapest possible set menu to deserve such rude and hurried dis-service? (For the record, it was a decent set meal with additional ala carte dishes.)

The food was good as usual, but i left with a bad taste in my mouth.


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