Dec 28

For Good Food & Service, Don’t Go to Chef Donatello

On our last day at the office, my friends and I decided to go to Chef Donatello at SM Megamall for lunch.  It was the only restaurant that wasn’t full.  Unfortunately, there was a valid reason it wasn’t full.  It was the worst eating experience I’ve had for a long time now.  It’s a fast food Italian resto where all of the waiters and cashiers were untrained.  I would’ve willingly shelled out big dough at Italianni’s had I known the horror we would go through.

First off, 4 of my friends at the end of the line were offered a seat already assuring them that their “specialist” would just handle their orders.  I consider that discrimination since the three of us at the start of the line had to queue to the cashier to pay for our orders.  When it was my turn, they didn’t have any change for a 500 bill and informed me that the change would be given once my order was served.  Those who made their orders through the specialist, however, had to wait for a full 15 minutes to get their orders which included soup that was just at the counter and salad that didn’t need any cooking.  One officemate ordered ceasar’s salad but the specialist returned to him asking him if he would prefer the chef’s salad because the cashier mistakenly punched it instead.  She even went on babbling that it tasted better.  We all looked at her like she was from another planet and reminded her that he wanted ceasar’s salad and that the cashier can remedy her mistake.  The salad was served without dressing and when my friend inquired whether it was already dressed, the waiter told him that he had to choose the dressing. This was of course several minutes already since it was served.  My other officemate, on the other hand, was informed 15 minutes later that the pesto was not available and had to change his order to hamburger with fries.  His order came another 15 minutes later but was changed to herb and spice without his permission — I guess they forgot he changed his order to a hamburger.  Except for tacky comments and a lot of laughter, we let it go and knew we would not make the mistake of eating there again.

The restaurant’s biggest mistake happened to me.  We had been there for almost an hour and we left in a hurry.  On the way back, I remembered I missed my change because I noticed I did not have smaller bills in my wallet.  I returned to the cashier asking her if she had given me my change already.  She smiled and told me it was with the waiter.  The waiter came to me taking out my change from his pocket.  I was fuming mad and screamed at all of them to just close shop for the love of God.  I was about to hurl more damaging words except that the cashier seemed almost ready to cry and everyone of their patrons were staring at us.

Since I told you my worst eating experience, let me tell you about the best one I had recently.  There is this small restaurant in Pasig City called Cafe Juanita that serves the most delicious food and provides the most exquisite service I have had.  We were a group of 12, yet when our drinks arrived, the waiter did not have to ask where each drink belonged.  He served the drinks like he could read it on our foreheads.  My table was a little wobbly and another waiter came to me asking if it was moving.  I said it was ok since it was not bothering me.  He dismissed my response and came back to remedy the situation as soon as possible.  One of our entrees was sinigang na maya maya.  After 5 minutes, a waiter returned to us with the sinigang broth in a small cup requesting that we taste the broth so the chef can make adjustments if we wished.  I’ve eaten in some 5-star hotels that can’t even match this service. 

Now, how does that compare with the first experience I narrated?  I know that Chef Donatello is a fast food joint.  But since their food cost almost twice as McDonald’s, I was expecting better.  Besides, I never had that experience in any fastfood restaurant.  Until now, I can still feel the angry heat that went all the way up to my head.  It’s a good thing the year is almost ending.  I would not want that to be a preview of what 2008 would be like for me.  By the way, I forgot to tell you, the “specialist” at Chef Donatello also approached our table to ask if we had a senior citizen’s card.  Trust me, I was the youngest at 38 but none of us on that table looked anywhere beyond 50 years old.  Happy New Year to all!

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