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Any Waiter/Waitress Experiences Lately?

By Food Critic 26 November 2008 74

What is going on? Seriously our Waiters/Waitresses service here in Canberra is somewhat losing there touch. If you have visited Melbourne lately you will know what I mean, the staff in Melbourne are brilliant.

I wont say which cafe in Manuka I am referring to, But if you eat in Manuka you will soon figure out the one.

Last week I had a waitress with attitude because I refused to eat a 400 gram steak with a butter knife. She said “Theres nothing wrong with eating steak with a butter knife” I said maybe I should just use hands?  

The reply was simply “I’m sorry we are out of steak knives, there isn’t anything I can do.” Not only at Manuka across all of Canberra I’m noticing there is attitude in the Industry.

Do we have a shortage of steak knives in Canberra? is it come the time to carry around dining kits?

[ED – for our younger readers unfamiliar with customer service, the correct answer is to say the knife is coming right up and then nip down to Coles to get another set. The revolving restaurant in Black Mountain Tower being a possible exception to this rule.]


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Any Waiter/Waitress Experiences Lately?
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tylersmayhem 9:41 am 27 Nov 08

Talk about an “almost MOD” fest! Excellent. Looks like I’ve found a few to give me a run for my money.

Now could have been wanker and complained to one of the staff doing the rounds, but instead I made do, and guess what, it took no more effort to cut my steak than it would have if I’d had a steak knife.

I couldn’t agree more. If you need to have a steak knife to cut your steak, then you either like your meat well done (I won’t even go there because it will turn to personal abuse), or there is something seriously wrong with the meat in the first place.

Whenever I cook a steak at home, the regular dinner knives I have (just a longer version of the butter knives) are more than fine.

tylersmayhem 9:33 am 27 Nov 08

I always tip and it’s not a silver coin! I tip cause to me its appreciation of the food and service even if the food wasn’t the best but the service was pleasant I tip.

Well stop tippling. It’s setting a crap precedent in a very USA style.

farnarkler 9:05 am 27 Nov 08

Here’s a plan, if you’ve got things to say, why not self publish a Canberra restaurant guide, along the same lines as the TimeOut guides. Yes there are a few review websites but I don’t think they give impartial reviews. The reviews are usually either positive because that particular restaurant is a favourite or really bad because the reviewer wants to vent their anger.

Fiona 8:30 am 27 Nov 08

Peachy said :

As a born and bred Canberran, I didn’t realise how bad service is in Canberra until I recently spent a weekend in Newcastle. Bit sad to think that I’m just used to it here.

Also a bit sad that Newcastle of all places was better..

Had breakfast the other weekend at… somepalce in Kingston square. They were out of pancakes and banana bread, leaving one non-egg breakfast on the menu. I wish I could remember the name.

And how do you run out of pancakes?

farnarkler 8:30 am 27 Nov 08

I-filed, that’s where you were meant to put the tip. Waiting on tables is one of those jobs where the career ladder really doesn’t have many rungs, a bit like parking inspector or bank teller. I can understand why waiters/waitresses can get apathetic. In all service industries employees need to put on their happy face all the time. Obviously some can’t do that. Perhaps the school of hospitality should put on a few workshops in customer service.

Best thing is to not go back to places where the staff have been really awful and of course tell all your friends not to go there.

fox 8:12 am 27 Nov 08

I haven’t had any bad dining out experiences lately, but I did have one when I tried to order in.

A couple of weeks ago my partner and I ordered three pizzas and some side dishes from Dominos in Dickson. After nearly two hours, the food hadn’t arrived so I rang the shop to find out what was happening. A trainee answered the phone and told me that the driver had got lost and had returned to the store a few minutes earlier for a map.

Being somewhat confused that it had taken about an hour and a half for the driver to return to the store, (we were originally told that our food would be delivered approximately 40mins after we ordered), and concerned that the driver couldn’t find his way from Cape St in Dickson to Ellenborough Street in Lyneham (literally only 2-3 streets away – depending which route you take), I asked the trainee if I could speak to her manager.

I related my concerns to him and he assured me that our food would be delivered in less than ten minutes.

Forty-five minutes later the pizzas were finally delivered…

They were the wrong ones – and not just a small mistake, but a completely wrong order. We asked for two cheese pizzas and a hot n’ spicy, garlic bread, brownies and soft drink (a lot I know), and received two pizzas (one supreme and one vegetarian), two serves of garlic bread, no brownies and no soft drink).

…Five minutes later I was on the phone to the store again.

The trainee answered again and after I asked for her to put the manager on the phone, I clearly heard her say “******, it’s that bitch on the phone for you again”.

Cutting the story short, I related my frustation with the delivery to the manager and my anger over what I heard said over the phone, and we argued on the phone for close to five minutes. The conversation ended with the manager telling me that if I was so disappointed with their level of customer service, that I shouldn’t order through them again. “That’s fine with me” I replied, before he called me a fcking retarded bitch and hung up the phone.

Since then we’ve ordered through Pizza Hut in Dickson and have been pleasantly surprised – when told we had to wait the standard 30-45 minutes for our delivery, it was at our door in ten minutes with a complimentary dessert.

Felix the Cat 7:23 am 27 Nov 08

I don’t understand how businesses like these that have been in business for a number of years and presumably have qualified chefs preparing food manage to stuff it up, and according to posters on here, stuff it up on a regular basis. Cooking food isn’t rocket science, especially when you have a set menu and the same set menu is prepared ~8hrs a day (probably more for a lot of places), 6 or 7 days a week!

Rude/disinterested waiting staff I can understand but not under/overcooked food.

Nosey 11:13 pm 26 Nov 08

Donut King, bottom level at Belco Mall.

On Sunday just gone a long goatee and long haired “dude’ was working there and having a decent sook about not needing this sort of “crap” on a sunday morning.

Apparently it was too early to deal with anything negative.

I was with my daughter ordering a coffee for me and Mrs Nosey and a donut for Junior Nosey when the dude began sooking about anything he could.

The words that he was mumbling was nothing short of disgusting given the fact other kids were also at the front counter being served.

I wanted to jump over and snot him one to give him something to cry about.

The coffee was good though but when I return I will have a word to the owner as I know other rioters believe it’s no point stating it here if your not going to inform management so they can fix the problem.

GB 10:55 pm 26 Nov 08

ant said :

… a lot of the time, you can do better yourself, for a fraction of the price and none of the awkwardness …

Well, that’s the diner’s dilemma. If just the “going out” isn’t a feature, and the service and atmosphere are ordinary or poor, then all that’s left is the food. So it better be exceptional to justify the price.

If you’re a good cook, you can probably do most food that most ordinary restaurants serve as well as they do, and of course it will be cheaper.

That’s why I almost never order steak at a restaurant — I can buy a good steak, cook it myself, and know it’ll be cooked well. I tend to order things that I can’t or don’t make myself, like tripe soup, or Chinese roast duck, or rillettes, or Tandoori anything. Thus avoiding any steak knife issues as well.

A good restaurant can create enough added value in the experience to have customers be happy with the price they need to charge to make a buck. For me, that added value comes from a comfortable atmosphere, good accoustics, and reasonable service by friendly staff.

Like someone up there said, if you’re going out to have a good time, and something’s not right, then make the best of it. Worst case, walk out. Second worst, just find it entertaining. Don’t go back if you don’t enjoy it. And stay home and cook with friends! Hard to beat.

ant 9:52 pm 26 Nov 08

burkes08 said :

Yacht Club = great venue = bad food = EPIC FAIL

Ugh, agree. It’s a top place, in a top spot, but the service and food do battle for who is the worst. They are both crap! actually, the food was worse. I’d rather eat maccas, fair dinkum.

That’s teh trouble with goign out to eat these days; a lot of the time, you can do better yourself, for a fraction of the price and none of the awkwardness of having to deal with retarded incompetant kids.

burkes08 7:54 pm 26 Nov 08

Yacht Club = great venue = bad food = EPIC FAIL

Whatsup 7:26 pm 26 Nov 08

I’ve had some excellent food and service at restaurants here in Canberra. On occasion I have had a ordinary experience however this is not the norm.

I am polite to the service staff and on most occasions find them to return the courtesy in spades. Yes I do tip excellent service as I want to encourage this.

I go out to dinner to relax and unwind – looking to find fault in the food and / or service just detracts from the purpose of being there. Relax and enjoy, life is too short to waste your energy… have another glass of wine. If its that bad, go somewhere else next time.

byt2007 6:50 pm 26 Nov 08

I’m just about ready to give up on eating out in Canberra; I find it incredibly frustrating to be consistently overcharged for bad to mediocre food and surly or slapdash service. I’m a pretty decent cook, which makes going out for food and getting shafted even worse.

Recently I paid $25 for a plate of pasta at Verve in Manuka — pasta with chorizo and prawns, in a light cream and tomato sauce. Sounds like a winning combination, and yet somehow the kitchen managed to turn it into bland pasty stodge (how on earth they managed to make chorizo bland is beyond me). The dish was not worth complaining about — it wasn’t bad, just barely even mediocre. I can cook a better plate of pasta, in less than ten minutes, from fifty cents worth of ingredients. My friend’s chicken was very dry. To top it off, service was almost rude; the waitstaff conveyed an attitude that we were a bother. This was a Thursday night, the restaurant was busy but not at capacity. With drinks, the bill came to about $85.

My friends and I tend to eat in rather than going out now. We’re all pretty passionate about food, and would jump at the chance to eat better food than we can cook for ourselves. Sadly, unless it’s a special occasion place like Anise, Aubergine, Courgette, etc, that just isn’t going to happen in Canberra. We don’t even have decent yum cha here!

Maybe the upcoming economic downturn will force Canberra to realise that the market will not continue to bear charging $30 a plate for indifferent cafe food and crap service.

I-filed 6:38 pm 26 Nov 08

Two years on, I still can’t go near Pangaea in Manuka, after I was served by a waitress exhibiting fully two centimetres of bum crack as she left my table.

PsydFX 6:27 pm 26 Nov 08

johnboy said :

There’s also a minor matter that some arthritis sufferers find life easier with a steak knife, and if a place is serving steak it’s not unreasonable to ask for a knife.

Of course not.

I do find it hard to believe though that an establishment particularly in that area, which serves steak, wouldn’t have steak knives.

I think that it is likely that the attitude that the OP displayed towards the waitress (not a personal attack, taken from the original post!) caused her to become uninterested in providing a further level of service.

seekay 5:51 pm 26 Nov 08

I always order my steak done medium-rare, tossed in the Magimix and reduced to a puree. I also ask for a silver straw to drink it through.

Kingsleys never make the grade.

johnboy 5:42 pm 26 Nov 08

There’s also a minor matter that some arthritis sufferers find life easier with a steak knife, and if a place is serving steak it’s not unreasonable to ask for a knife.

GB 5:39 pm 26 Nov 08

How soft a steak is depends (among other things) on the breed; how it was raised and finished; how it was transported and killed; how the meat was aged; what cut it is; how it was prepared; how it was cooked; and whether any has happened to it since. All else being equal, the softest steak will not be the most flavourful. Many people prefer both the taste and texture of ‘stronger’ steak, to the melt-in-the-mouth steak that is relatively less tasty. Some of these require a steak knife to eat when cooked perfectly.

However, I’m not actually sure whether people here are actually talking about a butter knife; (or here ) ; or a dinner knife .

If it really was a butter knife, that’s pretty lame. But most dinner knives these days have some serrations and are more than adequate for most steak. And if you were at a fancy restaurant, then setting appropriate cutlery (even if not strictly needed) would usually be part of the image-setting.

I think I’m with piratemonkey here: the kind and level of service is part of the personality of an establishment. Generally, I would expect that a place charging more would also increase the level of service they are pitching for; but by no means is there a cause and effect relationship. Eg, 2 Yummy and Jimmy’s Place are both inexpensive, but I’ve usually had excellent service there. And many places fail, even if this is their goal — that’s why we look at reviews. Sometimes it might be one bad night or a particular staff member, but its often the whole atmosphere the manager has created or allowed.

And I also agree that the attitude of the diner can tip the balance towards good or bad service.

But I, like the original poster, am intrigued as to why it seems that Canberra in particular has comparatively few places that do good service, and many expensive places that do poor service.

Maybe we just have too many overpriced places….

stirred21 5:31 pm 26 Nov 08

johnboy said :

stirred21 said :

PsydFX said :

Hey Stirred21, has anyone ever told you that you have exactly the same writing style and sentence structures as “Food Critic”? Weird!

Food critic obviously graduated year 10 English.. Congrats!

And that’s you on a final warning as well stirred.

Sorry johnboy – i wasnt trying to insult anyone just make a point that food critic and i arent one and the same.

Overheard 5:31 pm 26 Nov 08

A favourite calendar quote from some years ago said something along the lines of, ‘A person who is rude to waiters/waitresses is not a nice person’. A tad simplistic, but boy did I find out about that one in spades when I was keeping close company with someone for some time who was appallingly rude to every waiter/waitress, irrespective of the service.

I’ve not seen her in a month of Sundays, but I’d like to think she’s still dining out and about, being her same old self, and routinely picking the pubic hair and other foreign matter from her veal cordon bleuch or risotto del funghi. Or not!

As for generalisations on Canberra wait staff or Melbourne wait staff or anywhere else for that matter, I reckon you’re on a hiding to nothing. It all comes down to the attitudes of the individuals which in turn may be dictated or affected by the owners, managers and clientele.

I’ve had brilliant service in Canberra eateries and cr#p service in others. Or a mixture of both in the same establishment depending on the time, day, and which way the planets are lined up or the wind is blowing.

And recently, I had breakfast in a funky little lane near Flinders Street Station in Melbourne which is allegedly the duck’s n#ts for foodies (and I don’t class myself as one — foodie or duck’s n#t), and in the space of the 30-45 minutes I was there, I’d mentally noted about 10-12 customer service sins, starting with bored and unengaged staff. (I grabbed a business card on the way out, but chagrined by my mate’s stink eye and murderous enquiry as to my intent, I declined the opportunity to catalogue them on email for the manager at a later date.)

P.S. Until recently, I used to breakfast once a week at Silo, and apart from the fact their croissants were always late (for a mate, not me) and they didn’t automatically serve my butter-eating friends their butter unless asked, I didn’t have anything to fault them on.

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