Kirsty Says ‘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.

FAIL My Thai, FAIL!

4 comments ↓

#1 Pavlov's Cat on 18.04.09 at 12:14 pm

For some reason this reminds me of the awful story currently in the news about the inquest on the kid who got lost on a 2006 Blue Mountains hike, who called 000 from his mobile six times and encountered three different operators who kept asking him for a street address even after he told them he was lost in the bush. The whole ‘Computer says No’ and ‘Stick to the script to the point of insanity’ ethos is leading to some extraordinarily weird public/civic/commercial behaviour. In both cases it seems to be a matter of minions blindly doing what they’ve been told.

#2 Nancy on 18.04.09 at 12:33 pm

Miss B has been watching ‘Wall-E’ obsessively for weeks, and the other day asked me why one of the human characters shrieks with frustration after an argument with a computer where the computer keeps saying ‘I must follow my directive’, no matter what. I said, ‘It’s his first encounter with the bureaucratic mentality.’ It sounds as though the people at My Thai would make outstanding bureaucrats. Off the list!

#3 Dr Sister Outlaw on 18.04.09 at 1:12 pm

Epic fail – first rule of restaurants is look after the customers you already have in the door … and you are quite right, the second setting needs to be flexible. Eight o’clock is very early for a Friday night second set – in Sydney the second setting starts around 9!!

Similar bad experience in Haberfield was my mate’s birthday in November where we had a party of 11 who were going to be arriving in dribs and drabs at a very popular pizza joint. They have a no bookings policy, but would they let us bag a table and start ordering? No, all 11 had to be present and accounted for before we could be sat down, after which were advised we would still have another 45 minutes to wait so we left.

It worked in our favour, a pizza bar down the road was under new management, welcomed us in without blinking and we had a completely delicious and relaxed meal for under $20 a head (La Grotta on Ramsay Street people).

#4 Zoe on 19.04.09 at 9:15 pm

I can understand if they had someone waiting in the bar, but how much more sensible if they’d said “Look, as we told you when you booked we should really be getting ready for our second sitting, but you’ve been such lovely customers and we know you’ll understand we can give you dessert, but you wont be able to linger over it.”

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