One of the things I love most about being a food writer is discovering new places in which to eat, whether it’s in an expensive restaurant (which happens rarely because I’m on a tight budget) or at a food stall along the street.
Unfortunately, many proprietors seem to forget that it’s not just about the food; other important factors also come into play when opening an eatery.
Perhaps the most common thing I’ve noticed lately is how lackadaisical the restaurants’ operations are.
In one restaurant my son Marty and I went to, we actually had to look for restaurant staff to ask if they were open or not.
It turned out the two people running the place that night were in the kitchen, having dinner.
Fine, everyone needs to eat, but couldn’t they have taken turns eating so one of them would be on hand to meet customers?
Another night, Marty and I went to a barbecue place known for their chorizo. Yes, the chorizo was awesome, but the owners could have at least trained the staff how to serve customers properly.
We ordered drinks beforehand, as per usual practice in any eatery.
When our drinks were not served after a few minutes, I followed up on them. The waitress told me she would bring our drinks together with the food, so she wouldn’t have to keep coming back to our table.
There were two of us, but the waitress brought only one plate. When I asked why, she told me I could just use the plate that the rice came in.
In the middle of our meal, Marty and I ordered more rice and chorizo.
The waitress took our order, but after a few minutes, she shouted at us from across three tables and asked how many chorizos we wanted.
Strike three. You’re out!
Marty and I both decided we won’t be going back there any time soon, if ever.
A couple of days ago, I went to a restaurant that supposedly serves good fried chicken.
The drinks and food arrived quickly and everything seemed okay, until I bit into a drumstick. It was pink inside, almost raw. I called the server’s attention to it and he tried to explain that the chicken was frozen when it was cooked.
The way he was talking, he was expecting me to just accept the chicken the way it was. Seriously?
I insisted that I be given a drumstick that had been properly cooked. The server reluctantly took the chicken back to the kitchen.
Around ten minutes later, the server came back with the SAME drumstick that had been REFRIED.
At this point, I felt that I had to speak to the manager, and when I explained the situation, he apologised and put in a new order of chicken for me.
Good thing I wasn’t charged for the first order, otherwise I’d have blown up.
But the thing that ticks me off the most is when half the items on the menu aren’t available.
Recently, I went into a fairly new restaurant because I’d read “nice” things about it.
By “nice”, I mean as reported by “foodies” and “food bloggers” about the place. I wanted to find out if the comments were really true, because I usually take food bloggers’ comments with a grain of salt.
I tried to order based on the social media posts I’d seen, but all the items I wanted to taste were out of stock.
When I asked why this was so, the server explained that they hadn’t done any marketing yet.
I wonder, what kind of owner or manager allows their establishment to run out of ingredients for their most popular items?
Not a good one, obviously.
At another restaurant, they couldn’t serve me wings or fries because their fryer was busted. And, get this, the restaurant specialised in chicken wings and fries.
In fact, that was all they served, aside from drinks.
So please, feel free to get in touch if you can enlighten me as to why they were open at all that night?
I’ve been writing food and restaurant features for more than 10 years, and I’ve had many experiences like this. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
So it’s got me thinking. Perhaps I should do a series on the trials and tribulations of a food writer.
One thing’s for sure, there’ll be no half-baked anecdotes dished up in those columns.
Words by Jigs Arquiza
Jigs Arquiza is a journalist-turned-mechanic who lives on the island of Cebu, Philippines. He’s been cooking since he was 12 years old, but refuses to go professional because he doesn’t want to get into arguments about how authentic his food is. You can follow him on Instagram at @eatssogood
Feature photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash