My friend Carl had a bad start to his weekend yesterday (March 26). He thought he could have a pleasant dinner with his mum and the boys, and then take it from there. No such luck. Here's his story...
"Am not sure what it is with restaurants these days, but it seems some basic things like making sure your reservation list is updated and ensuring all main dishes arrive at a table around the same time aren't that important anymore.
"Take yesterday, for instance. I took my mum and the boys for what I thought would be a quick dinner at Al Forno's at the East Coast. I made a reservation at 5-ish, for 7.30pm and arrived there slightly late.
"When told of my reservation, the bemused waiter-stand-in-maitre'd checked the list, and asked if our reservation was for the next day instead. I wonder if this is common among restaurant-goers...forgetting which day you made your reservation and arriving a day early.
"I assured her that I might be getting on in years, but haven't quite reached the stage where I can't remember where I'm supposed to be at a particular time. Anyway, after some to-ing and fro-ing, we were finally seated.
"No dramas from there on till our mains arrived (quite promptly, I might add - about 15 minutes from the time we placed orders). That's when everything began to go downhill. My mum's fish and my pasta arrived at the same time, and we waited a bit for the boys' pizza.
"10 minutes went by, and there was still no sign of their food. Several episodes of frantic hand-waving to waiters ensued. One said the food would be there in 5 minutes. Another said two. One finally mumbled a cursory apology and blamed the chef. My mum couldn't wait, and started eating...my pasta was rapidly becoming a noodle biscuit.
"About 20 minutes after my pasta arrived, Joel's pizza landed. Still no sign of Jordan's, however. That took a further 10 minutes or so. My mum was done with her dinner, I could barely swallow my noodle biscuit.
"So much for a family dinner. The bill: $170+ It arrived with nary an apology or explanation.
"That's the second time in as many weeks something like this has happened. Please, restaurateurs, it doesn't take an episode of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares to tell you this: Send up mains together! There's a reason people sit down to meals together, and it certainly isn't so one group can watch another eat.
"Tip #2: Insulting your customers gets you nowhere.
"Service culture? What service culture?"
Mama Mia, it's definitely a BOO-QUET for Al Forno.
*** LATEST: Response from Al Forno...
"Thank you for the feedback.
I will look in to it.
Apology to your friends.
Alessandro Di Prisco
AL FORNO (EAST COAST) PTE LTD
425 East Coast Road"