The importance of feedback

While holidaying in Bali, we went to a rather fancy restaurant to try out the Ubud version of fine dining – I was really curious to see if they would be as good as the places we have in Cape Town. The price was comparable given that it was heading into peak season and the average cost excluding drinks was R1 300 (including a mandatory 21% tax + service charge). However, that, and the exceptional presentation of the food, were just about the only comparable things between that restaurant and the many places I’ve been to back home (La Colombe, Fyn, to name a few).

I was excited to go to this restaurant – it had many great reviews and accolades. My first impression was indeed a good one. The menu came hidden in a beautiful ceramic box underneath a tray of edible flowers. The staff sprayed some seasoning on the flowers and once the petals were eaten away, it revealed what was in store for the night. In true fine dining fashion, it consisted of 6 or 9 courses of vaguely descriptive dishes.

There were a number of tasters outside of the menu and some were quite inventive, such as this … thing, which for a lack of a better word, was just some lemongrass sticks dipped in honey and something sweet, hidden in a giant foliage of leaves. A feast for the eyes but not so much for the palate.

 

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The actual courses were underwhelmingly small. Minute. Quantum. I wondered how anybody could be full afterwards, even with all the sides that came with. I’m a rather tiny human and I was starving at the end of the night. And no, your eyes did not deceive you, below is some carrots, in a gigantic bowl, and a whole lot of sodium. In fact, I couldn’t taste much of the food’s natural flavour because every dish was so darn salty.

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I’m usually not one for complaining, and I wouldn’t have said anything if it weren’t for the fact that I got sick from eating the food. Probably from the above oyster dish… or perhaps from the complete juxtaposed flavours that did not complement one another. My tummy was probably wondering what the fudge was going on. For example, the one dish was to inspire a combination of hot and cold. They put some sorbet in a hot soup… totally weird!!! Plus 1 for thinking outside the box but minus 5 for not checking with the 5 senses (including common sense!).

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Usually after a meal at a nice restaurant, I’m left feeling satiated and… happy. But not this time. It was a bit of a let down and a few hours later, I was feeling so ill, I couldn’t sleep. At 1 am I promptly vomited everything I’d eaten that night.

The very next day I emailed my grievances to the owner, who kindly offered to refund me (but also stressed that they won’t be changing the menu because most people don’t complain). She also asked why I didn’t say anything to the waiters – and that, I think, circles back to the point of this post. Often we try to avoid any sort of confrontation. In this case, it was further spurred on by the fact that the staff couldn’t speak great English and half the time I couldn’t understand what they were saying. And so, the easiest thing to do was to nod, smile and say thank you.

Of course, there is also a balance between giving appropriate feedback and complaining incessantly about every little detail. I think it is important to be honest whilst trying not to be petty at the same time. If the food hadn’t made me sick, I probably would have just chalked it up to a bad restaurant selection, but in the end, I’m glad I spoke up. It took about 2 months for the money to be refunded – and at one point I thought I wasn’t going to get my money back. It took a number of emails and hassling on my part – but it finally came through.

We are incredibly spoiled in Cape Town. We have some really amazing restaurants and if you go during one of their winter specials, it’s an absolute steal.

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Pay attention to the warning signs

Some of you might be wondering why the heck I’m blogging at 1am on a midweek moansday (while others might be wondering why the heck I haven’t been blogging at random hours of the morning up until now) – although truth be told, nobody really looks at the time stamp of blog posts so I’m sorry if I have just wasted 20 seconds of your time. Fillers are important y’know.

The back story of this post started a couple of days ago when I noticed a slight itching on my elbows. (It got progressively worse, so much so that I have had to resort to putting band-aids on my elbows – I know, I can sense a trend manifesting too.) After some Googleling, I discovered that contrary to my worries of this being skin cancer, it’s actually quite harmless. Like a benign tumor, but not really (unless you categorize little bumps as growths, which I shan’t). Apparently, it’s some form of allergic reaction brought on by stress. I don’t particularly feel stressed out but maybe it’s a sub-conscious thing. My final exams are only 2 weeks away so maybe my body is trying to alert me to that fact, just in case my brain has forgotten.

Anyways, I went to the pharmacy today to get some antihistamines. I have never taken them before but I’ve heard that word being flaunted around enough times to know that other people take them quite often, so I reckon it must be good shit, right? The tiny box said something along the lines of “blah blah may cause drowsiness and impotency* blah blah” but I disregarded them in favour of the tiny yellow pills. To my defence, of all the medications I’ve taken, none of them have made me feel tired or drowsy – so I figured it was just one of those mandatory legal-lines printed there so that people wouldn’t fall asleep while driving a big tractor and then try instigate a lawsuit to compensate for their missing leg.

Two hours later, they hit me. I had to abandon my episode of Grey’s Anatomy in favour of my bed, and I slept from 6pm until, well, now.

I’m hungry.

I haven’t had any supper and the last things that saw my stomach were pieces of sushi which weren’t that appetizing and all they made me do was think about the parasites swimming in gastric acid. My growling tummy prompted me to get up and scourge for food – all I could find was a packet of 2-minute noodles which had been in my cupboard for so long that I was surprised it hadn’t grown mold yet.

P.S. I’d take pictures of my elbows but I don’t have any camera equipment.

P.P.S. *I might have slightly misquoted there.