MANY Gulf residents spend a lot of time dining in the numerous restaurants on offer in the region either for personal reasons such as getting away the kitchen for those of us who do not employ private cooks or for business purposes.
We therefore become reasonably proficient in recognising and differentiating good and bad offers but, sad to say, many of us often return to a dining establishment for the wrong reasons. How many of us choose a restaurant for its location, its views, its environment, ease of parking or friendly staff and halfway through the meal remember the cuisine is usually pretty dreadful?
I often choose a restaurant in a hotel which has valet parking, especially during the hot months of the year, even though the valet parking boys sometimes frown on my jeep.
I like a restaurant which, when you have booked a table, uses your name, when the head waiter escorts you to the table, a sign the guest relations training is working. I prefer a restaurant with fine décor and furnishings. Forget the old presumption that red-and-white tablecloths and shoddy decorations mean good food – exquisite décor often means the food is excellent too.
I like a restaurant which teaches staff to communicate with each other, i.e. when I tell the waiter, I will not be drinking alcohol, I don’t expect another waiter to offer cocktails, wine and liquor, which quite often happens.
I prefer a restaurant with a menu in plain English and not in fancy French or Italian names for incomprehensible food items.
I dislike restaurants with a waiter who sees through you – I call the phenomenon ‘the invisible guest act’. Have you experienced that? The waiter approaches, you raise your hand and he walks straight past you towards the kitchen, as if you did not exist or were part of the furniture?
I abhor restaurants which are unable to convert a hors d’oeuvre into a main course. I dislike restaurants which bring the head chef (usually irate) to the table when you tell the waiter you were not thrilled with your meal.
I dislike restaurants which seem to think that you need half an hour to study the menu and then spend another hour making the food.
I dislike restaurants where you have staff who hover, hover, hover and then pounce to clear your plate and utensils, when they think you have finished eating. Paradoxically, I dislike restaurants leaving me alone after my meal, when I either want to order coffee or want to pay and leave.
A final plea to all waiters in the Gulf: please listen, when I say NO ICE in my Coca Cola. Nine out of ten times, the drink arrives full of ice cubes – isn’t that amazing?
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
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Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.