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When Luxury Turns Bad

Dining at a superior restaurant makes everyone get together for a happy feast, whatever the occasion, or even without one. But then, the key word is ‘superior’. And those who were are slipping down the standard

Dining at a superior restaurant makes everyone get together for a happy feast, whatever the occasion, or even without one. But then, the key word is ‘superior’. And those who were are slipping down the standard…

A favourite always remains a favourite – until something goes wrong – or you find a new favourite. I am sure you know what I mean. Could be a new car, a dress, a cuisine or in my case – restaurants.

Taking stock
The food is the mainstay of any restaurant which actually attracts diners and makes them loyal to you. But if the food itself starts spiraling downwards, what saviour does a restaurant have?

Trattoria at Taj Vivanta is a restaurant that has been favoured and loved by many. When confused where to go, or for a late night snack, Trattoria was the simplest go to place that has managed to keep the crowds flowing in and the appetite churning for years.

Two recent visits, however, has caused me to change my perception about Trattoria and wonder what happens to good old brands when they age? Do they become lethargic, non-inventive and nonchalant? Maybe they do and I should warn my fellow fans of this place. Think before you leap as ‘Tratts’, as it is fondly called, is now ageing and is not the same as it used to be. A visit in October was my first disappointment with the place. A foreign particle or ‘special ingredient’ found its way in my ice tea with the team admitting and apologising that it was a ‘mistake’ and they had no idea how it got there. No replacement up to 20 minutes later led to a reminder from my side. The rest of the meal went smoothly with one Fiamma pizza and one Tratts special with herbed focaccia and alio olio dip. My opinion to the staff was simple, "How can a place like Taj afford to make these mistakes and yet take it so casually?" Maybe I thought aloud or maybe the fact that I left my visiting card to the staff and asked for the bill that the manager, Mr Issake came to the table along with Mr Rishi, the F&B manager and refused to charge me for the meal and ‘wanted an opportunity to make it up to us’. A tête-à-tête later, I respected the action and left.

Few days later, on my sister’s birthday, I thought of giving my ‘favourite’ a chance again. Ten family members, two of which were epicure gold card members, were all set to celebrate a simple occasion. And still, every single thing that could go wrong at a dinner table did! The drinks are the only thing worth even writing this LONG explanation for. Everything else failed. The mushroom sautee was pathetic – dry, chewy, salt-less. The pizza for the birthday girl, supposed to be plain cheese margherita minus the basil (the staff will confirm the order) was sent back twice because it had basil in it. The other pizzas – Fiamma and Vegetarian mix (onions, peppers and mushrooms) – were chewy, sauce-less and salty to another extreme. The Mushroom risotto was an epitome of uneasy cheese and milk settled on the chest within seconds of the first bite. The cake for the birthday girl, kept on the ledge of the bar, came to the table after the birthday girl left. In the midst of all this chaos, we were handed over a bill, and after sheer dismay and shock discussed with Mr Rishi,  a few things were taken off the bill. My only question at the end of this all – what in God’s name were we paying for?

Making it worthwhile
The service is another strength of a restaurant. A diner, at the end of the day, comes to a restaurant to feel like and be fed like a king. They are paying for it after all!

Having enjoyed the hospitality of Yauatcha many-a-times and even written about positively in LuxuryFacts, this restaurant by KA Hospitality has managed to upset me surprisingly. Aiding a perfect Sunday brunch – my companion’s favourite – an espresso martini was requested. A few moments later, the waiter returned confirming they could whip up the cocktail but the bartender wondered "Which vodka would you prefer"? On asking which vodka was generally used in martinis, we were told that it was Ketel One, but Grey Goose was an option. Quite common, we asked them to go ahead with Ketel One. Keep in mind, the price is Rs. 750 for any martini.

Ending this lazy Sunday, we requested for a platter of macaroons – chocolate, raspberry and orange. Unfortunately, the platter that came in front of me consisted chocolate (absolutely delicious), raspberry and pista! The server took the liberty of ordering the pistachio flavour for me since the orange was over. I am not too fond of the flavour so I requested for another and unfortunately both the other flavours, beside the cocoa, were too sweet for words. And having had the macaroons before and often parcelling them, I was sure that there was something wrong. Upon asking the server, he was kind enough to ask if I wanted any other flavour (seeing I had not even bitten the macaroon more than a squirrel’s nib) and after I turned that down, he offered me another dessert. Already having my favourite raspberry delice on the table, I declined the offer and asked for the bill. My bill had a cocktail for Rs. 1750 and a macaroon platter for three. The unnecessarily inflated bill marred my mood and didn’t make the situation any better for Yauatcha.

Topping any of the above experiences was a visit to The Lalit Mumbai hotel, near the airport, which has caused me to rethink going anywhere near the brand again. An hour long for food to arrive, wrong orders, tasteless food and incompetent staff. What more can I say?

Ambience, food and service – these three pillars make a restaurant. The above mentioned fine dining restaurants managed to disappoint us with at least two of the pillars crumbling. Take a rain check, please?

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