The Time Has Come To Talk Of Other Things...Food.

Can I just take a break from Election Blogging today? I meant to post about the Debate this morning, but ran out of time, and all the good bloggers beat me to it.

Anyway, recently I've been dining out a lot (thank you...) and have had, frankly, some mixed experiences with the service. These have ranged from the mildly annoying, such as the (ordered) bread arriving with the main courses, to the very annoying, such as being seated for at least twenty minutes before anyone even took our drinks order, through to the debacle on the weekend...

In an almost empty restaurant, we were given a table near the entrance to the kitchen; our entree order was completely forgotten, until the main courses were brought out; and when I tried to order dessert, I was informed that, not merely were they were out of what I wanted, but they hadn't actually served it for months, although it was still on the menu. Home made menus, I might add. Also, not specifically poor service, but amusing: the CD playing in the background began to skip, and wasn't rectified for many minutes.

Although great progress has been made in recent times, Australia still has a way to go to offer levels of American-style customer service. However, it's not like Sydney doesn't have so many restaurants that any can afford to be slack. Because it's always fun to have a whinge, does anyone have other tales of woeful restaurant experiences you'd care to share in the comments? They don't have to be tales from Sydney, as this post proves that when it comes to mediocrity, pub food knows no geographical divide.


  1. i hear you.

    small minded small business family restaurants have the old entitlement complex, where they don't have to give any service because as a "battler" family business they are owed a living by those that can afford to eat there.

    could this actually be a good reason to eat at macdonalds?

    i digress -- don't wish american style customer service on us just yet. as someone who just came back from the US, i can tell you it's not all it's cracked up to be. servers in the US are glorified pan-handlers, paid nothing by their employer are there only as an opportunity to beg off customers for pocket change. they are not any more courteous, mindful of your needs/wants and don't give a fuck about getting your food to you on time any more than waiters here. and they expect a 15-20% tip for their trouble.

    imagine the crazy window washers on cleveland street as your server. yeah... exactly.

  2. This sense of entitlement does help offset my lefty guilt about the whole thing.

    As for the crazy window washers, well it's more a case of seeing them on TV than any real life knowledge. Frankly if I could get them to come wash the windows of my apartment, I really wouldn't mind.

  3. Possibly. You should out the guilty party by name as a warning to your fellow diners.

    My recent stay in Sydney blew out to two and a half weeks, and as someone living on expenses I ate out every night of that. When you're mostly eating by yourself, you tend to really pick up on annoying service glitches.

    Complaint #1: The music. Every single restaurant I attended that had music would have been better off without it. Offender #1 was the hotel restaurant that at one point was playing Eminem (!). Not exactly the appropriate soundscape for the $90/head meal. They did this three times.

    Complaint #2: Table settings. You wouldn't think this would be hard, but delivering clean cutlery is apparently a big challenge in this day and age. I also expect either the table to be set appropriately for more than one course or I expect the cutlery to be cleared and replaced between courses.

    Complaint #3: Staff cannot speak enough of national language to take an order. This might be fine in Chinatown, but I don't expect it in the middle of the city in a restaurant with a menu of primarily Italian descent.

    Complaint #4: When I ask for a bill, give it to me. I'm not going to sit and linger over coffee and liquers with my imaginary friend, I'd rather be on my way. I shouldn't have to get up and pay, I should be able to hand you a credit card and watch the problem vanish.

    The very worst customer service I've seen anywhere in the last few years has been from Hotel staff. The establishment is billing enough to imply that service should be at least polite. The only Hotel that has delivered service that has been at all impressive in Sydney is the Avillion, where the staff actually went out of their way to be helpful.

    I don't think 'American-style' customer service is really what we're looking for, because the only way to get staff fawning over customers is to make them dependant on tips. I think Australia does well having a minimum wage and removing it isn't going to make the country a better place - you'll just have waitstaff more likely to poison you if you don't tip well. In my experience the service isn't better, it's just more intrusive and annoying. "For the thousandth time no, I don't need another beverage/water/coffee/anything" in the middle of my meal. Getting polled every 5 minutes is just irritating.

    In reference to the comment by karlos, I really don't see a sense of entitlement from restaurants, I just see minimum wage staff not caring, not having any background in hospitality and management not being proactive with their staff and not ensuring customer experience.

    I could rant on, but enough ...

  4. BSE - sorry, I'd intended to point you towards the best and cheapest Chinese in the city, but events ran away from me whilst you were here.

    Nevertheless, I can't speak for Sydney, but I can confirm that poor service in hotel restaurants is a pretty universal, or at least global, phenomenon.

    All your complaints are good points. I have a further problem re: complaint #4 with the bill: although I am female, I am perfectly capable of paying the bill! And if I obviously pay the bill myself, with my money out of my wallet, do not return the change to my male companion! Sheesh, what year is this?!?


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