Warning: This is a wordy, angry post.
Grilled Steak Seafood
66 Hardware Lane, Melbourne VIC
Mon - Sun: 11.30am - 10pm
I rarely ever complain about service when it comes to dining anywhere. I'd take the brashness of workers in Asian restaurants. I'd take haughty waiters/waitresses from cafés that probably don't need my business. I'd take abnormally long waits for food - as long as the quality is up to par.
But when I do complain, you know it's got to be THAT bad.
So let's start from the beginning.
My friend Vicky is back in Melbourne for her graduation, and the 'residents' of 3001 (Zack, Ky-Lynn, Arif, Jason and I - Max wasn't free and Levi can't leave the house) and Daniel met up with her for dinner. After unsuccessfully getting a place at three different restaurants (closed or booked out) in the city, we decided to head to Hardware Lane as not many kitchens elsewhere are open at 9.15pm for dinner.
It's normal to have restaurant hosts up front, trying to convince you to dine in their restaurant on Hardware Lane. It's the same on Lygon Street, and personally, I think it's not that bad as long as the host knows where to draw the line.
That's when all the problems unknowingly began.
1) Ky-Lynn, who was walking in front of our group of 7, was nearly ambused by the host of Grill Steak Seafood. I remember him from the countless times i've been to La Belle Miette, always asking if we'd like to have something to eat. He wouldn't let her go, and he even followed her a few meters up. I'd say, he's pretty damn bloody frigging persistent.
2) In his last attempts trying to convince us, his words, roughly: 'Look guys, give me the opportunity to serve you tonight. You can have your dinner, and at the end of it, I'll give you a 20% discount off the food and drinks. If you aren't happy with the quality of the food, you don't have to pay for it. We are the Top 10 steaks in Melbourne, and we are that confident that we can serve a good meal.'
If the pricing was roughly the same all over Hardware Lane, we might as well go for the one that was relatively full, has deceivingly good service, and a 20% discount, right? Maybe.
We were pretty surprised when we walked into the restaurant as it was relatively packed. It gave us a good first impression: despite it's popularity based on observation, they still took marketing and promoting seriously (based on Mr-Try-to-Sell-Ice-to-Eskimo up front). The waitress and the waiters were prompt with water, menus, cutlery, etc. So far, so good.
3) Then we started waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. For 30 minutes. We didn't order a bloody Bombe Alaska that needed to be air flown from Alps. We ordered steaks, chicken, pastas. We were all hungry. And I don't know about the rest of them, but I was getting really, REALLY cranky.
4) Upon enquiring about our food, the host was very quick to disappear, then reappear with one of the lamest excuses I've ever heard in any restaurant out there: 'The seafood (clams from my linguine vongole) was not fresh. The head chef was not happy with the quality of the seafood, so he decided to make the dish again.'
Wouldn't it make more sense to check the damn clams before cooking em? Or serve the others first?
5) I didn't see it, but Zack and Arif said that they were using it as an excuse for not keying in the order into the system cause that's what they saw the host do after leaving our table. He might've been resending the orders to the kitchen. He might've been keying in an order for another table. He might've lied. Benefit of doubt.
6) We were served complimentary garlic bread and bruschetta. I'd say, one point for trying to ease our obvious hunger. But, not good enough, Grill Steak Seafood. The damage was done. It was literally too late.
The bread itself was good. Fluffy, fresh, But there was barely any garlic butter on it, and while there were 7 of us, there were only 6 slices. Were 2 of us supposed to fight for the last piece?
I didn't bother trying this. I was too annoyed to care about whatever token they tried to give us to make up for the wait.
7) 13 minutes later. We were already waiting for 43 minutes (on Zack's watch). Daniel even had his jacket on, ready to walk out. Then the food finally came.
/ pause rant /
Prices below are before discount.
Risotto Wild Mushroom, $22.50 with Chicken, $2.50
In my opinion, this was really good. I may be biased cause i LOVE mushrooms; Jason thought it was a bit salty. But the chicken was pointless: It was just chunks of breast that didn't go with the mushrooms.
Pork Belly, $27
According to Arif and Max, who joined us later, this was pretty awesome. I didn't try it but it looked a little burnt round the edges but i suppose that might give it a better taste to a certain extent.
/ resume rant /
On to the 'meh' side of the food..
Linguine Vongole, $22.50
8) For one thing, this was more of an under-seasoned aglio olio, with a handful of clams thrown in for theatrics. Jason and I can cook a better aglio olio than that, hands down. As for 'checking the seafood', well it probably didn't make much difference.
Chicken Picasso, $27.50
9) According to Ky-Lynn, it was just 'meh'. They've managed to overcook the chicken breast as well. It's too bad.. The dish looked the most well presented among all our dishes.
300g porterhouse, $29, sauce for an extra $2.5-$3.5.
10) Zack and Vicky ordered a steak each. Vicky's steak, which was supposed to be medium, turned out to be nearly well done. It was so dry, she couldn't even finish it. Zack's steak, which was supposed to be medium rare, came out as medium.
So much for being the 'Top 10 steaks in Melbourne', eh?
I only found one mention of that online here. Yea, maybe i know not to trust some websites now.
Chicken Involtini, $32.50.
11) Even Daniel's chicken was overcooked. And this was under the 'Chef's Special' section, along with my Vongole.
Basically, out of 7 dishes, only 2 were good.
Bad grilled chicken, bad steak, unsatisfying clams? Shouldn't a restaurant get to know the basics, or at least have the courteousy to do so before blasphemously naming it's restaurant 'Grill Steak Seafood'??!.
We figured to give them one last chance and see how they'd handle the situation later on with the billing. Personally, I was expecting a free meal with no questions asked, as promised earlier.
12) When the bill came, sure, the 20% discount was there, but that was it. Zack left the table to speak to the host, only for him to return slightly disgruntled, and the host unwillingly giving us a 30% discount after a slight argument with Zack.
I've never experienced service as bad as this in Melbourne. They weren't rude or condescending, but the thought of them lying to us (I know, benefit of doubt, but what kind of knocked up lame excuse is that?!) after making us wait for nearly 45 minutes for food that was waaaaay under par, and to not be given the meal free as promised and instead an unwillingly given 30% discount really pissed the hell outta me.
Which is why I'm blogging so extensively about what happened today, just an hour or two after everything happened while it's still fresh in my head. I'm still cranky.
Well, that about sums up the worst dining experience I've ever had in Melbourne.
Time to let it go, keep calm and blog about it.
Ain't she gorgeous?
/ edited /
Staff: Table service: 6, Front-of House: 3
still cranky >:(