One of the many pet peeves developed after moving to Bacolod City was the disappointment with so many local restaurants. For sure, the local cuisine is spot on – have also found the small carinderias typically deliver better flavors than the more hyped-up commercial places and for less than half the price. However, when it comes to international cuisine, many places make no effort in trying to put out an authentic product, but, moreover, an imitation.
One place that bills itself as a tex-mex restaurant does not even serve sour cream, on past visits (no longer patronize the locale) any white and creamy substance accompanying the meal was mayonnaise. A sheer example of not trying to offer genuine cuisine, but a mock-up – in case they were not aware, sour cream and mayonnaise may look the same but they have completely different flavors.
There is yet to be a place in Bacolod City that serves decent sushi. Most fish options taste overly frozen, without an ounce of freshness; and given the look of the cuts, the chefs must be using dull knifes when carving. Plus, most places lean towards the California roll-type selection, one that is not necessarily authentic Japanese, but one that does not require freshness – again, the appearance of imitation goods.
Not to mention, basic cheese sauce on stale tortilla chips does not constitute nachos, nor does slicing one chicken wing into two pieces count as “two wings.”
However, beyond the fact that most restaurants in Bacolod City are focused on cutting corners with cheap ingredients and putting out pretentious food that usually looks better than it tastes – but, in their defense, the city is also mostly comprised of locals who prefer their restaurant experience to be about ambiance, appearance, and the façade of prestige over taste and quality – there is also an issue that arises with places that put out a quality product.
A couple unfortunate experiences have shown, perhaps, it is difficult for local restauranteurs to balance serving good food and providing decent customer service.
One such experience was at a restaurant across from the Lopue’s East Centre, a place often frequented in the past for their delicious array of burgers – for once, a place that serves hamburgers with an all-beef patty and not the grainy blend that most other places settle for and just call “beefy.” However, on one occasion, arrived near opening and was seated immediately. Already had the order ready, but it took forever to find a server. Most of them seemed hidden away; the one by the cash register putting on her makeup popped up and finally took notice.
At the time, there was only one table seated, it should not be so difficult.
On another visit, though, a similar situation, near opening and the only table seated. This time, perhaps the server at the cash register decided she did not want the responsibility of doing her job and hid away with the rest because there was literally nobody on the floor. It had been about 15 minutes since being seated and provided with menus and nobody was around – nobody. Ended up leaving without ordering and that was the last time ever visiting the restaurant.
Afterwards, shared the experience on Facebook and a friend commented she had a similar experience at the same restaurant. It would appear service has taken a steep slide from the previous days of weekly visits to the restaurant. While the food may be good, if there is nobody willing to serve, what’s the point?
Plus, it calls into question the way these servers were trained.
If they are college graduates with hospitality or hotel and restaurant management training, what does that say about their quality of education? Unless they are hired from an agency (and have written about the problems with establishments hiring purely through an agency), then it speaks poorly of the type of workers that specific agency provides.
Another situation occurred just yesterday, at a restaurant that has been around for a long time, but, a couple years ago, set up shop near the University of St. La Salle.
On every visit, it’s the same order, sate babe – would say it is one of the best in town, and the servings are pretty generous (however, they have been slowly shrinking in size). On this visit, added an order of chicken wings, which, even upon ordering, the server clarified the type of rice that came with the dish to make sure everything was correct. Fast forward to the meal, the sate babe is served with no sign of the chicken wings.
By the time the sate babe orders were nearly finished, just a couple bites away, the wings still had yet to appear.
Later, a plate of chicken wings comes out of the kitchen, at the moment there were two tables seated, and the server brings it to the other table, they send it back saying they did not order it, which should make it evident the order may have come from the other table. However, the server then brings the plate back up to the casher stand, where they look around, and proceed to send him back to the kitchen. Upon reemerging from the kitchen, he is without the plate of chicken wings.
A few minutes later, one of the cashiers stands up and points directly at the table – even made eye contact. The said cashier, the server, a gentleman in a button-down shirt, and the other cashier who was hidden in the back all proceeded to stare at the table. The server runs back into the kitchen and proceeds to serve the now-cold chicken wings to the table – not acceptable (had it removed from the bill).
This would not be the first time the place has sent out incomplete orders. On another visit ordered an iced latte and every item was delivered except the iced latte. By the time the bill arrived, there was still a charge for the iced latte – the server seemed confused why there was no iced latte on the table – had to have that removed from the bill as well.
It is a shame that the options left in the city are either substandard food that merely puts on the façade of affluence or food that is good, but customers are unsure if it will be served at all or if they have to wait for service staff to put on their makeup. Nonetheless, the dependable carinderia usually has quality food, super low prices, and have almost always been greeted with a smile.
While current culture trends towards putting on an impression for others instead of savoring a meal, will stick with having a meal worth enjoying – it’s just difficult when the choices are few and far between./WDJ