Welcome to my retro-tour of our recent adventures in New Zealand.
It’s supposed to be a New Zealand summer but a tropical cyclone that’s been doing damage in Australia has now crossed the Tasman and is how eaking out the last of its fury on the central and upper parts of New Zealand’s North Island.
Basically that means it’s been raining swimming pools in the last day or so and whilst that hasn’t stopped us for doing a few things today it has meant that we now return dripping to the hotel looking like four drowned rats.
We all had rain jackets on but somewhere in the middle of the guided tour of Whakarewarewa it became apparent that they were no match for the deluge.
We got back into our room as quickly as possible, I took a hot shower and then a short nap whilst Himself and the kids donned swimming attire and headed out for a warming soak in the jacuzzi. Afterwards when we all felt warm and rested and the hunger pangs kicked in. We felt too lazy to go and look for dinner outside of the hotel and Himself fancied a glass of wine or two with his meal so we thought we’d try one of the several restaurants inside the Distinction Hotel.
There were several restaurants we drove past today that looked interesting and since I’m on pain meds for my foot I’m not drinking alcohol at all, in theory I’d make a good designated driver, but of course my foot injury also means I can’t drive so that puts paid to the best laid plans of mice and men.
Therefore the restaurant we are going to tonight is called the Pavilion Restaurant and it’s one of several inside the Distinction Hotel: there is a kids menu, so the first thing is on the agenda is to settle in our fast tiring kids with the meal of their choice. Predictably this means that Little Mr. goes for chicken nuggets and Kiwi Daughter goes for pizza , both options served with fries and a small salad.
Himself opted for the rack of lamb with star anise, sze chuan pepper crust on garlic cabbage , onion confit and pinot noir glaze, which looked amazing and which he said was flavoured and seasoned to perfection… but was sadly as tough as old boots. Like many students trying to pay the bills I’ve done my share of waiting tables so what happened next really surprised me.
The waitress came over once we had received our meals and asked if everything was ok, Himself diplomatically said that he was really sorry but that the lamb rack, although it tasted delicious in flavour, was so tough it was an effort to chew, and he didn’t think it was an acceptable meal. Instead of taking his plate back to the kitchen the girl walked off, I thought to tell the chef. Then I noticed that instead of going into the kitchen she just stopped at the bar/reception area and started doing what looked like administration or something.
I told Himself that she didn’t look like she was going to do anything at all about his meal and that I was perfectly happy to go to see the chef myself and explain the situation. As often happens when nice customers complain, Himself was already feeling guilty that he’d had to say anything in the first place so he asked me not to, as not to dampen the atmosphere of the meal.
Coupled with the fact that our kids chose this moment to start showing their tiredness, I decided not to pursue it …
…so I didn’t, but when a few minutes later a couple came in and sat at the table next to ours and I heard the lady exclaim to her partner “oh the lamb looks nice, I think I’ll have that“… I did quietly lean over and tell her that I couldn’t help but overhear her remark, and that I wanted to give them fair warning that on Himself’s experience that the lamb was beautifully flavoured but tough almost to the point of inedible.
Luckily the lady was delighted to hear the warning and thanked us before making a different menu choice.
The owner/chef that I worked for in my waitressing days told me that customers should always politely tell the chef if something isn’t ok with their meal… it’s then up to the chef to immediately fix it. If he doesn’t then the patron has every right to tell all and sundry about their bad experience at said restaurant, so therefore the job of wait staff is to ask if everything is ok with the meal while there is still time to put things right.
It is therefore bad form of the patron’s part to leave the restaurant and then complain if they had said everything was ok, when it wasn’t.
In our instance however I can clearly see that the chef had no chance to fix Himself’s meal because the ignorant girl never passed on the message that the lamb was tough, and since I don’t expect chefs to mind-read, it’s not fair to afix any blame on the restaurant’s kitchen itself, just the silly woman who for whatever reason, wasn’t doing her job for them and the public they served.
New Zealander’s are not in the habit of leaving tips, in fact sometimes the service charge is already added into a bill anyway, but I’ve been long enough in Europe now that when I see really good service I tend to leave a little extra.
Needless to say that didn’t happen at all on this occasion.
Interestingly though, life is often a matter of swings and roundabouts because the next day when Himself went to Reception to square up our bill, the smiling gent behind the desk looked at the meal of the first night (the Maori Hangi meal and dance show) and told us that actually all of the cost had been already been covered by flat rate fee that the bus tour group had paid, and that since we had been tacked on as a few added extra’s to that group, that they decided that they weren’t going to charge us for that meal at all.
Had the girl from the second night eventually mentioned something about our meal complaint later? …Who knows?
Either way it all panned out for us more than fairly I thought and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back there to stay or have a problem to recommend the Distinction Hotel to anyone I knew who might want to stay in Rotorua. Lack of service from one, was avalanched by the great service by the rest.
Himself’ doggedly persevered with a small part of his lamb, then gave up, left the rest and at least enjoyed a delicious New Zealand cheese platter for his “desert”…
I opted for “Fish of the day created by the duty chef” and not only enjoyed it but shared with Himself since his wasn’t up to scratch…
… and my dessert was “steam pudding with white chocolate and anglaise sauce”… (anglaise sauce being a sort of custard of course)
Kiwi Daughter ordered a “blue lagoon”that consisted of lemonade and ice-cream (this is a combination I called a “spider” at this age)
…and both kids found space for ice-cream despite their tiredness.
All in a meal of highs and lows… but it all worked out in the end. It’s not even that late in the evening, but we are all tired so it’s back to the room for a very welcome early night. Tomorrow is another busy day…