Monday, 5 January 2009

The Stock Market

The Stock Market is perhaps one of the worst experiences of my life.

It is terrible.

A complete waste of money.

Terrible service (if that's what they want to call it.)

You're getting confused, aren't you?

I'm speaking of a restaurant Edson and I ate at with some friends Saturday night.

The performance of this restaurant pretty much coincides with the performance of the world's stock markets in 2008. So, if they are looking to replicate the collapse of the world markets in a dining experience, they've succeeded.

Now, The Stock Market is a restaurant in Ft. Bonifacio High Street that opened back in mid-October. It is owned by Del Monte and operated by a restaurant group that operates three other chains.

If you thought running three other chains meant they knew anything about running a fourth restaurant you'd be mistaken.

When we arrived there, shortly before seven, only four other tables had any diners. Most of the empty tables were reserved for large groups yet to arrive. This is a restaurant divided up into basically fourteen table groupings capable of accommodating four to eight persons in each, for a total of probably one hundred diners at a time.

We were seated by what the hostess referred to as the "bar". I guess it is a bar, just not one you can "belly up to". Really, it is just where they prepare all their beverages.

Our order was taken promptly enough, but that is when our experience began to go downhill...fast.

Ten minutes passed and one person at the table, Paul, had received his drink. Another ten minutes passed and Boris received his entrée. Mine and Edson's followed moments later. Paul's order arrived within a few minutes. Caridad, the only other to order, insisted we begin without her even though hers hadn't arrived.

Within ten minutes, Edson's water glass was empty and our iced teas we ordered thirty minutes before still had yet to materialize. However, Paul had been served a second glass of whatever it was he ordered without having ordered a second glass of it.

We tried several times to finally flag down a server who would pay any attention (You'd think they would; the manager, beverage crew, and full kitchen staff all looked out at us into the rest of the restaurant.) and make an inquiry as to where our drinks and Caridad's meal were hiding. Judging from the looks on the faces of those behind the "bar", all had been ignored or forgotten about. So it wasn't as if they were harvesting fresh tea leaves from the mountains or plucking live chickens for us.

And despite all the pitchers of water passing our table, our water glasses were still empty. They would remain empty the rest of the night.

The manager seemed to be spending all his time putting out fires as one server after another came to him with an issue from their respective tables.

Edson and I both ordered the pulled pork barbecue. What we were served was one of those three things.

It was pork.

It was not pulled. While there was a sauce of some sort over it, it was drizzled on in such a stingy fashion we couldn't discern it as barbecue. Very disappointing.

Our iced teas arrived just a few minutes after the crew wiped the "oh shit" looks off their faces. Caridad's order didn't arrive until after a second inquiry was made into its whereabouts. By the time it did, it had been over an hour since she placed the order and she had lost two dress sizes.

Someone in our group asked if we should get dessert.

We don't have time. Edson needs to be at work Monday morning
, I replied.

So it was decided we'd go elsewhere for dessert.

Getting the bill was another ordeal.

That took requesting it twice - and the person in charge of bill preparation was working right behind our table at the "bar"! We waited ten minutes for our change, and finally just gave up, left, and had dessert at Italiani's, where we were greeted warmly, promptly, served quickly and well, and had a thoroughly wonderful time engaging in confectionery decadence and chamomile tea.

So, dear readers, if any of you were thinking of dining at The Stock Market, take my advice and save your money. You'll get better service at McDonald's, KFC, Jollibee, Greenwich Pizza, Wendy's, Burger King, Chow King, Goldilocks, Sbarro, Pancake House, Chili's, Friday's, Italiani's, Earle's Deli, DeliFrance, Yoshinoya, Grub Club, Reye's Barbecue, Piquant, Mexicali, Ji Pan, Aveneto, Pizza Hut, Outback Steakhouse, Pho Hoa, Oody's, Flapjacks, Burgoo, Ten Titas...

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