Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Balaclava Hotel

We have been going to the Balaclava Hotel since 1992 when we first moved to Balaclava. In close walking distance from our then home, we would slip there for a meal if R did not feel like cooking. The late Dame M used to like going there where she was treated like royalty, possibly because of the $100 notes she used to slip into the poker machines. When Dame M was alive, it was not unusual for her to book for a table of 20 in the smoking area. We have seen its excellent times and its not so excellent times and tonight was a serious fail.

Our Malaysian friend is here for a week in Australia. I have not mentioned it before, but in spite of him only being 34 years old, he is a very prosperous business person in his own country. His $70k Audi and the clothes on his back being worth $1k plus, as against the value of my car, $4k and the clothes on my back, $300, it is odd that he wanted to go there. He ordered up big for his meal, and the hotel obliged with his special order involving a separate prawn dish as well as a normal steak, medium rare. That was what he asked for and I would have been happy with the steak, as it was well done when it arrived at the table. Another person had the roast lamb and was not really impressed by the quality of the meat. I had corned beef and I was not impressed with the quality of the meat.

Personally, I am not keen the Balaclava Hotel anymore, but everyone else, nine people, were happy to go there. And then it all went very wrong.

Our Fijian Indian friend is a Hindu and quite religious. Hindus don't eat beef. Cows are sacred animals to Hindus. They don't eat them.  It is not the first time our friend has ordered a curry at the Balaclava Hotel, which surprises me as he can cook his own curry very well. I would never order a curry or Thai in a pub. He chose to order the curry again tonight, a little reassured that he noticed the cook was Indian too.

To get to the point, he ordered the chicken curry. His meal arrived, and he hoed in. After the second mouthful he realised it was not chicken curry but beef. He went off to the toilet to wash his mouth out, while his partner, an ex politician and policeman, called for the manager.

I'm afraid the Balaclava Hotel has not heard the end of this. It like serving pork to a Muslim or a Jew, or meat to a vegetarian and not telling them what it is.

Our Indian friend works for one those large lefty labor lawyer companies.. He intends consulting one of the partners on Monday when he returns to work.

His partner seems to spend half his life on the phone complaining about poor service and products and gets heaps of payola back. He won't let it let it go either.

I was looking forward to seeing our Malaysian friend, but the beef incident cast a pallor over the evening. Manny did not even mention his overcooked steak until I noticed it. It is not like we are in the outback desert of Australia. You wouldn't expect people to understand religious dietary rules there. In inner suburban Melbourne, you really would expect better.

19 comments:

  1. Rule 1- Few Australian businesses have any notion of what service could mean
    Rule 2 - Few Australian eateries are less than grotty
    Rule 3 - NEVER eat out if you want to enjoy yourselves
    Rule 4 - the eatery market is overcrowded and weekend penalty rates have nothing to do with businesses folding
    Rule 5 - substituting beef for chicken is not just insensitive, it's downright stupid

    Sorry your night out was a bummer. Great that one more bunch of inept "business" people might be held to account.

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    1. 1 disagree. I am generally happy with service I receive.
      2 possibly. I stay out of the kitchens. I don't want to know.
      3 disagree.
      4 Agree
      5 Agree

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  2. What a terrible experience all round. I don't think I'll be going to that pub. I recently discovered the Kent hotel in north Carlton. Delicious.

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    1. Ad Rad, I don't know why we go there. I try not to. We have other pubs that are much better. The Kent sounds good, but NORTHSIDE! I die if I go north.

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  3. Cultural awareness wasn't even required in this case from what you say. Chicken curry is what was ordered and that is what should have been delivered. If Chicken wasn't available the customer should have been informed and invited to select something else.

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    1. Clarity of thought Victor. Of course you are correct and what you suggest is normal practice.

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  4. The beef/chicken issue is really very unforgivable. That's an error on a gigantic scale.
    We generally give a cafe or restaurant one chance. If we don't like the service or food, or the prices, we don't return. There are too many eateries which we do enjoy so why give our hard earned sheckels to undeserving places?

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    1. Craig, R pushes to try new places, yet I tend to go to tried and true. I have long been over the aforesaid place. Just a few hundred metres away, we can go to The Dick, which has first class service.

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  5. Like the others said, the beef/chicken mistake is unforgivable. It should never have been allowed to happen. I don't eat out often, but when I do I usually get decent food that is exactly what I ordered. Was taken out by my kids yesterday for a birthday lunch to the local pub, I had some excellent crumbed garfish and chips with salad. All other meals were highly satisfactory too, judging by the cleaned plates at our tables.

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    1. River, was it your birthday yesterday?

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  6. I thought Pilchard & I were the only disaster magnets!! Can't wait to hear the follow up - and can you anonymously send them a link to this post?? It'd be interesting to get their reaction!!!

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    1. Red, the hotel is one of AHL group, a huge organisation connected to Woolworths supermarket pokie machines venues. Woolworths will have paid media monitors, so there is no need. This will be picked up very smartly and after the email that went to the the company rather than the hotel, well, it will be interesting.

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  7. Did anybody die Andrew.. For goodness sake they should look around and see the big picture. Seriously if they sue or something..my advice to them would be GET A LIFE!! I can't abide 'precious' people.. But that's just me by the look of it :))))

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    1. Grace, not being a religious person, I can't walk in his shoes or judge the effect. The hotel could have made the whole thing die immediately with some sort of gesture of goodwill and an understanding apology. As someone said, if it was a Moslem who was fed pork, there would have been an explosion then and there.

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  8. I second The Kent as a great pubby place to eat. Another one out that way - not quite pubby but has a bar attached is Markov in Carlton. North is great! lol.

    I eat out semi regularly. A group of girlfriends and I have a dinner club where we take it in turns to choose a place each month to eat dinner at. It's great. I'm rarely disappointed. Apart from your friend's unforgivable service I think we're lucky in Melbs to have wonderful service and excellent, varied food!

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    1. M, I certainly agree with your last sentence and what a great idea the dinner club is.

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  9. bwahahahah who calls a pub The Kent! That's just hilarious!

    As for the chicken substitution racket, they deserve all they get if they get hauled over the coals. Basic customer service would be to let the diner know the chicken has morphed into a cow. Blergh.

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    1. I didn't see the name The Kent at all odd Fen. Probably originally, Duke of Kent Hotel.

      The pub is one of a huge group that own many hotels. Rather explains things. Why should the staff care? They are there for short time.

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  10. Maybe it's just because I use Kent instead of C**t. Purile mind I know.

    You're right, why would the staff care? Baffling though, chicken is nothing like beef.

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