Saturday, April 18, 2009

You Can Have It Thai

What an odd dining experience friends and I had last night. We went to My Thai in the Brisbane suburb of Auchenflower. Just looking at their website, they're clearly a well-established restaurant and J suggested it because she'd been there before for work dinners and could recommend the food.

Well, the food was excellent--that which they deigned to serve us anyway.

J and I arrived earlier than our dining companions, and after negotiating a move of table from just outside the kitchen to the front of the restaurant, we ordered an entree of Goog Tod, deep-fried prawns with special sauce. They were really just so fresh and crisp. Wonderful.

While waiting for the others, J and I had studied the menu and made a selection of two of the three dishes that four of us would share. J's choice was My Thai Duck Curry, while I indulged my ongoing obsession with pork mince and chose Laab Mu, spicy pork with mint leaves. The others arrived and we added Tofu with Cashew Nuts to our order.

Again, the mains were fresh and delicious. My favourite was the Laab Mu which was juicy, spicy and refreshing, but the whole pineapple, grape, shitake mushroom and duck curry combination worked so well, I found myself snaffling the last meaty bits of pineapple coated in the sauce.

The trouble arose when we attempted to order dessert and were refused. Have you ever heard of such a thing?!

The reasoning offered was that the next sitting was due, so effectively, we had to clear out. Not content with this explanation, we tried again, and again it was explained that we had booked for the 6.30 sitting and weren't we told when we booked that there was also an 8 o'clock sitting? Well, yes, apparently we had been, but let's just stop and think about this for a moment.

Is an hour and a half sufficient time for people to sit and enjoy up to three, maybe four courses, when ordering from an extensive ala carte menu? The concept of time sittings is fine if the menu is set or you're limited in your choices, but when a kitchen has to deal with potentially 72 different dishes at any one time, and that's just the mains alone, well, the time between ordering and the dishes arriving at your table is probably going to be at least 30 minutes. Now, I think that 30 minutes is not an unreasonable amount of time to wait for good food, but when you take 30 minutes away from an hour and a half, well, you see where I'm going. And if you don't manage to make your selection from such an extensive menu within the first 5 or 10 minutes of arriving at the restaurant--whether your dining companions are running late or not--well, you see where I'm going. At least half of the alloted hour and a half is whittled away in logistics.

We ate reasonably fast, taking about 40 mins to make our way through the dishes between sips of sparkling wine and beer and conversation, so it was 8 o'clock before J decided she had a hankering for sticky black rice pudding. We only had another 45 minutes before the movie we were seeing afterwards started , so we really wouldn't have been more than another 30 minutes depending on the time it took for the dessert to arrive from the kitchen.

I think what was most shocking, aside from being refused the opportunity of ordering dessert, was the inflexibility of the sitting policy which took no account of whether there were people arriving to take our table or not. Yes, there were people arriving, but there were more than enough tables to accommodate them. Our continued presence would not have lost them any additional diners. I remain completely puzzled by the failure to assess the situation, to even attempt to problem solve, and the intransigence of the restaurant staff and presumably the ownership.

As it is, My Thai's intransigence has cost them some future diners. I won't be going back, and especially since as we stood outside the restaurant, finishing up conversations and expressions of outrage, we noticed that while our table was cleared and reset no-one, in the 25 minutes we were gathered, was seated at the table or even led in its general direction.



genevieve said...

Isn't that ridiculous!! Black rice off today??

Oanh said...

Epic Fail!

Intransigence in service is a hallmark of UK dining (and banks, and post offices). I much more sanguine about crap service here (though we eat out less often) than in Brissie, where I do not forgive.

(A further annoyance - this is the third time I have tried to post a comment. I think Blogger's offended I defected to Wordpress. It makes typing 'Epic Fail' three (now four) times kinda funny, because it's the sort of thing you're supposed to say spontaneously!)