When you sit down at a restaurant, there are a few things you hope will occur every time: your food will be sanitary, will arrive in a timely manner, and, depending on the dish, will be appropriately hot or cold. Oh sure, attentive wait staff, great ambiance, and tasty dishes are great too, but for the sake of this story, I’ll keep the expectations at a minimum. As a customer, it is often difficult to impossible to be sure how sanitary a kitchen is, so when something is noticeably wrong, it’s fair to expect it to be fixed.
Recently, Savvy and I dined at two well run, medium range dining establishments and each had a culinary malfunction. The first is a restaurant in the Sanlitun area that sells Middle Eastern cuisine. Savvy and I had both ordered falafel sandwiches for lunch and were enjoying a plate of delicious hummus when our falafels arrived. Savvy, always observant, noticed a cockroach scurrying on the outside of her sandwich and immediately brought it to the attention of the server who immediately took both sandwiches away and informed the owner. Kudos to the server! Now, I should point out here that since I have paid to eat insects before, I most likely would have flicked the roach aside had I been dining alone, but that’s really beside the point. What is the point is that the owner (an expat) came over to our table, assured us of the cleanliness of his kitchen and explained that the cockroach must have come in with the daily produce. He gave us his business card, new sandwiches were brought to us and we were left in peace to finish our meal. The owner later checked on us to make sure everything was okay. When the bill came, I admit that we were disappointed that the owner had not even given us a discount for our trouble.
Last week, while having lunch with Savvy at Element Fresh in Lido, the server brought our order to the table and Savvy (it always happens to Savvy) noticed a hair in her food. She pointed this out to the waitress who apologized and offered to replace the meal. Since we were pressed for time, Savvy told her not to worry about it. The waitress then asked if she could bring out anything complimentary for Savvy such as extra fruit. Again, Savvy told her not to bother and we left it at that. When the bill arrived, the waitress explained that she had not charged Savvy for her order and she again apologized for the trouble with the meal. That is a great way to handle a culinary malfunction.
Although I applaud the service that we received at Element Fresh and the manner with which the staff handled the situation, I would have expected a little more for having a castaway on our meal at the Middle Eastern restaurant. At the very least, the owner could have offered us some baklava. That would have exceeded my expectations.