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Dinner/Disaster At the Alto Restaurant

Mysterious 5 May 2008 34

Dining in Canberra had been a pleasure, with few if any problems ever encountered, that was until I thought I would try the ALTO Restaurant, situated at Telecom Tower atop Black Mountain.

It is one thing to experience long delays, busy night, we don’t have gas only electric service and it takes longer to cook food excuses, but to be rudely dealt with and spoken to by some testosterone enhanced freak who seamed more interested in raising conflict rather than resolving an issue, made for a pathetic experience.

In a rotational restaurant you are essentially sitting on a great big timer. One revolution takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes, so patrons are more aware of the time factor of their experience.

Had we have been warned of delays, or at least apologized to for the lack of service then some understanding would have applied on my behalf. After being seated, it was then around 20 minutes before seeing any form of Wine list or menu for that matter.

After watching inexperienced staff cluttering round like an ants nest dosed with methadone, my forethought of the experience came to life.

One waitress dropping her order note pad with out even noticing, I am sure could have resulted in another patron(s) finishing off the night with a tarnished experienced had I not told her that she dropped it.

I am now left to wonder if this is what had happened to my order, and if it is still at this moment doing laps around the tower. Thirty minutes in to the ordeal and we were finally graced with beverages and the orders taken.

If it were not for the location and views from this venue, any connoisseur would have switched to plan B and went elsewhere, where at least your presence is acknowledged !

Argh I felt how Bruce Willis felt in “The Sixth Sense”, with the wait staff morphing in to zombies by the minute !

I am left to wonder if the working environment has an impact on their ability to perform as they may be subject to vertigo !

Forty-five minutes in to the ordeal, and at the halfway mark of our circuit, we were served a sample of pumpkin soup in what appeared to be a shot glass, with some bread rolls which came 10 minutes after the pumpkin soup sampler was served, and was now cold. After attempting to break my bread roll in half, I was sedate enough to not request a mallet with which I could then maybe soften the roll in to something edible and decided it best that the bread roll would be best kept and donated to science to see if they could determine if the matter was from the Igneous or Sedimentary groups, or if a new group all together had been discovered !

After 1 hour some one managed to notice that I had to align my oesophagus with a sextant and various celestial objects in order to quench my thirst from a glass that was now as arid as Arabia.

After this zombie had stood their for 5 minutes with the bottle in hand and looking at my empty glass, ( like a model from Wheel Of Fortune ! ) he finally realized that this was the same wine that I ordered the first time, and yes I did like it the first time I sampled it, and yes I had just finished the glass earlier, another sign that I liked it, and finally realized that I wished for another drink and that he was not there to model a bottle.

At this point the clear sign of incompetence was prevalent, as was the frustration of my interstate guests who also were bemused by the goings on on this carousel/merry-go-round.

We had now almost completed one full revolution, with carnival music ringing in my ears like a bad case of tinnitus, when the testosterone filled freak had recognized us, much to my surprise, from when we first embarked on this joy ride, and he managed to notice that after one full rotation, yes 1 hour and 25 minutes, that we had not even seen an entree, nor had any feedback in regards to delays.

It was at this point we were made aware that this imbecile (AKA Waiter) was not interested in any form of solution or meal, but was more interested in an argument about the quality of service, and since being a lack of service that how
could argument even be entered in to !

He then proceeded to confirm the fact that the kitchen was poorly fitted out and only had “electric” cooking facilities and not “gas” thus causing delays, and that they were “overwhelmed” ! indicating a poorly prepared team of staff.

After indicating our frustration of such delay, we had given the waiter an ultimatum, he was still unable to deliver any satisfactory resolution or remorse for that matter, nor any kind of response from management (if there was any present)

At this point we had now just surpassed one full revolution of this merry-go-round and were now at our end of the ultimatum, and as such they lost our patronage.

As I proceeded to pay for the three glasses of wine we were lucky enough see, mister testosterone turned nasty, and quite freely became rude and partially abusive in front of other patrons to the point where one could have felt threatened !

I only wanted some food not a fight !

To say the least, as there is not much to say about the menu, I was surprised that it all managed to fit on the one page ! It almost reminded me of “counter meal” genre, with European pricing…

As a reference… http://www.forbes.com/2007/11/14/restaurants-meals-expensive-forbeslife-cx_pl_1114restaurants_slide_2.html?thisspeed=25000

And these are 6 to 16 course meals !

The four meals consisting of Entree and main, totaled to around $330.00 averaging at just over $80.00 per head for only 2 courses! (Yes, they had our orders on their billing system but not on the table or in sight)

A lack of variety and also Vegetarian offerings is one thing, but the fact that some of these limited dishes were “unavailable” had me feeling as though I had ordered an endangered species.

As an entree, all I wanted was some fresh oysters, by the end of the ride, I was now concerned that the trainee/whoever that had been sent to Sydney to collect them was lost or MIA !

Sadly I can not comment on the food since I did not have it grace my table, however from seeing food delivered to others that had arrived after us, its appearance came across as “steak and three veg” placed on the usual square plate as seen, um wellhttp://www.catererswarehouse.com.au/categories.asp?cID=254″> everywhere !

Upon entering the foyer, and being spammed with Telecom/Telstra logos, one should have know to expect long delays, poor and rude service, and unsatisfactory outcomes !


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34 Responses to
Dinner/Disaster At the Alto Restaurant
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alivicwil 7:55 pm 17 May 08

We ate there as a group of 7 with some English relatives a year (and a bit?) ago. Quite an expensive night, but well worth it. The food was lovely (though small serves… but that’s what you get in ‘posh’ places), and our waiter was wonderful – he was extremely patient with our two profoundly deaf table-members, taking extra time to face them while explain dishes. He was also funny, and flattered all the women at the table 😀

It was an awesome night out.

sepi 10:35 am 08 May 08

I love the restaurant reviews. Interestingly people have raved about Alto for weddings etc. Maybe they are only good at function food – or maybe you caught them on an off day.

ant 9:56 am 08 May 08

the more restaurant reviews, the better! I like the rolling review idea, although I rather hope that if one writes a topic, the title gets snaffled by google? Whirlpool’s topics get googleized pretty quick.

Jewel of India saw a lot of visits by the Indian cricket guys when they were here, apparently.

Thumper 8:44 am 08 May 08

Well, I can say, that after Tuesday night, Jewel of India is perfect as usual 😉

needlenose 12:06 am 08 May 08

Perhaps we should enshrine as a weekly thing like the DIY WotzOn Guide – a regular Monday morning bad restaurant review, to kick the working week off right.

ant 10:55 pm 07 May 08

No, actually, the fun does not die. I always wonder at people who frequent internet forums and deplore the fact that people post on them.

Snahons_scv6_berlina 9:09 am 06 May 08

needlenose, the fun dies when every week there is an article published.

needlenose 11:29 pm 05 May 08

Yes, el, cough it up!

And @ Snahons – the fun is not so much in knowing which restaurants are bad, but in knowing *why* they’re bad. Or why someone *thinks* they’re bad (like those tools on Amazon.com who rate a book one star because Amazon delivered it late). I enjoy reading a good well-founded winge, and I enjoy a clueless one even more. I still recall with affection an exchange by a couple at a table near mine in a bad restaurant in Brisbane, which went as follows:

Her: God, this shiraz is bloody awful.
Him: Yes, but at least it’s cold.

ant 11:21 pm 05 May 08

Come on el, we want the gory details! Love tales of crappy feeds (and good ones). In verse, if possible.

el 11:07 pm 05 May 08

Sounds rather similar to my utterly pathetic lunch time experience at Cafe Essen yesterday. It’s a shame, I’ve been going there for over a decade, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

needlenose 10:19 pm 05 May 08

Thumper said :

This venue does not accept bookings ”

do not eat in this wanky establishment…..

… because either it’s so poor there is no chance you won’t get a table and they can’t afford to put even the slightest obstacle in the way of a potential customer; or it is good, but lazy, so you’ll have to queue for ages, if you get in at all.

I wish Bookplates took reservations. I’d go there all the time if it did, but because the odds of getting a table are so low, I’ve stopped bothering.

Thumper 9:35 pm 05 May 08

This venue does not accept bookings ”

do not eat in this wanky establishment…..

ant 9:30 pm 05 May 08

Mysterious said :

” Children’s menu ”
expect kids running round screaming possible food throwing, yelling housewife
random public tantrems(not for some)

Children’s Menu means Stay Away if you want to enjoy a normal grownups night out. Ditto High Chairs available. I’m not against kids in restaurants, but I am against the way so many of them behave nowadays. No one’s taught them that the world’s not their rumpus room.

Mysterious 8:50 pm 05 May 08

Some new terms to add to the vocabulary of “The Dining Out” Experience

” Modern Australian ”
chef has little experience or knowledge of alternate dishes

” Ample parking ”
AKA dull or dead venue

” Group bookings are supported ”
please we could do with more customers

” It is essential to make a reservation ahead of time ”
good sign here ! patrons known to flock here in masses for good food

” Children’s menu ”
expect kids running round screaming possible food throwing, yelling housewife
random public tantrems(not for some)

” Take-away available ”
oversized portions can be expected, good for the gluttons

” Smoking area ”
may not comply with latest government health regulations

” Limited parking ”
limited requirement to drive their or home for that matter
(suited to those who wish to enjoy a few wines)

” This venue does not accept bookings ”
This venue struggles with any form of basic paperwork, also known to lose orders randomly and may on occasion panic at “Audit” time

Proud Local 8:07 pm 05 May 08

VYBerlina, too true!

One of the downsides of record low unemployment is you get rude/incompetent/uncaring staff in the retail and hospitality industry.

Mysterious 8:01 pm 05 May 08

Ari said :

I quite like the reviews of bad dining experiences, particularly when they are done with a dash of wit.

This one could have been a bit shorter, but no one is forced to read.

My apologies to you Ari, blame the experience for such a long saga…

I dont mind paying for good food and tipping for quality service, but since I saw neither, my coin remains in hand.

cabbage 7:40 pm 05 May 08

I had a HJ there one night a long, long time ago when it was a Spanish restaurant. It was one time i didn’t mind the slow service!

Pandy 5:33 pm 05 May 08

I had a meal at its previous name. shit value.

ant 3:55 pm 05 May 08

I wonder how long before the Google Spiders find this topic?! Meanwhile, it appears from these reviews
http://www.yourrestaurants.com.au/guide/alto_restaurant/
that poor service is a feature (not a benefit). Best quote “PS it’s rude to charge for bread rolls”.

grundy 3:02 pm 05 May 08

PS: I’ve dined at Alto once before, and found it as equally disappointing and overpriced as Mysterious did…

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