Monday, January 16, 2012

Rant: Hotel Restaurant Aggravation

My dinners this weekend were less than pleasing, and my standards were not set too high. But at least I got to taste some of the incredible, life-sized Stormtrooper cake pictured before.

This weekend, I attended a convention at the Westin Boston Waterfront, which is located next to the huge Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Within the Westin, there are several places to eat, including Sauciety, MJ O'Connors, City Bar and the Birch Bar. Friday evening, I decided to grab a burger at MJ O'Connors but it was too busy so I decided to go to the City Bar instead, especially as they basically share a kitchen and have the same general menu. I ordered a basic cheeseburger and fries, along with some iced tea. A very simple meal.

Well, after ordering my sandwich, 30 minutes passed and I still had not received my sandwich. The server finally stopped at my table and I informed her that I still did not have my burger. She told me that I should have mentioned something to her earlier. Shouldn't she be paying attention to her customers, and ensuring they receive their food, without the customers having to tell her? Plus, this was the first time she had been back to my table since dropping off my drink.

The server told me the kitchen was a bit backed up and that my sandwich would be right out. She did not ask if I wanted a refill of my drink, even though my drink was nearly empty. Her promise about the burger did not materialize as I didn't receive my burger for about another 25 minutes, and after several of the neighboring tables, who had been seated some time after me, received their meals.

The manager eventually came over, apologizing for the nearly hour delay, and did pick up my entire tab. I didn't receive an explanation though for this lengthy delay. Now, I understand that it was very busy, that there was a convention in the hotel. But, after the first 30 minute delay, they should have found a way to get me my burger in less than 25 minutes. I didn't see anyone else who seemed to be waiting a long time for their meals. Plus, as the hotel handles numerous conventions, the restaurant should be well used to handling large crowds. This isn't an isolated experience for them, and the kitchen should know the best way to deal with this situation. If they can't handle large conventions, then that is a significant issue.

So, Saturday night I chose to grab dinner at The Birch Bar, settling on their Nachos Special and some Pulled Pork Sliders. First, my server never brought me my water and I had to go to the bar myself to get it. The Birch Bar was not particularly busy, with maybe less than a dozen tables eating food, so that was not a reason for the server to forget my water. But that was a minor issue. What bothered me most were the Nachos, which were illustrative of a problem that bothers me in a number of other restaurants as well.

On the special menu, the Nachos were described as being topped by lardons, two different cheeses and a salsa. Yet when they arrived, they were also topped with sour cream, an ingredient I dislike and which also had not been listed on the menu. Why was it the only ingredient to have been omitted on the menu? I would consider it a major ingredient and believe it should have been listed there with all the others. Other restaurant menus do this very same thing, listing only some of the main ingredients and omitting others, and that really irks me.

When I order a dish, I want to know what I am getting, at least all of the major ingredients. I don't need to know every spice in a ten spice blend but I want to know whether mayonnaise is being slathered on my sandwich or not. It seems to be sheer laziness not to include all of the major ingredients on a menu, especially when most of the ingredients are being described. Why should a customer have to ask about potentially omitted ingredients every time they order a dish?

I hope my restaurant experiences this week are better.

City Bar on Urbanspoon
MJ O'Connors Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Frederick Wright said...


Early on in my career, I was a naive young engineer being sent to various hotels around the world with an essentially unlimited food budget. I learned very quickly that #1 room service is uniformly awful, overpriced, slow, and cold. And #2 hotel restaurants are generally (but not always) among the worst dining options in any given city, followed closely by whatever dreadful tourist traps the concierge recommends.