Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Huxtable? It was a bit sux-table


Something happened to me on the weekend. Something happened, and I don't feel good about it.

I feel a little bit ..... outraged, to be honest. To be fair, I recognise that I can get outraged quite easily. I'm a highly emotional person. I FEELS things.  

And on this occasion I feel I need to rant about what happened to me. But let me test it with you to see if it's fair. I'll tell you about it, and then you tell me if I've stepped over from "Justifiable Outrage" to "Whoa There Princess" territory. 

Deal? Deal.  So here's the thing. On Saturday night I enjoyed a delicious meal at Huxtable in Collingwood

Let me tell you how I feel about Huxtable. I've been to Huxtable before, and it is good. It is always good. It is better than good. It is wonderful. It is delectable. The food is inventive, and magical, and surprising. The flavours are so intense that I sometimes wonder how they can squeeze them all into the tiny little bite-sized pieces of marvellousness that explode in your mouth. Get the picture? I love Huxtable. It is one of my favourite places to eat in Melbourne.  

We were out on Saturday night, the three of us, and we booked the 6pm sitting because we are all larks and get up frightfully early in the mornings, so we like to eat dinner before our eyelids start drooping into our soup. 

We were advised that while the seating is usually until 8.15pm, tonight they were extra-specially-full and would we mind finishing by 8pm? We would not mind, we advised them. We felt confident that two hours was adequate time to spend stuffing ourselves to the gills on their marvellous food.

So we arrived at six on the dot and sat down to a fantastic dinner. We sat at the bar, which are the best seats in the house as it means you can see the talented kitchen staff working their magic right in front of you. I swear we devoured twice as much food with our eyes as we did with our mouths. A bottle of champagne later, a bottle of wine, and we'd had far more sensational courses than were good for our wallets or our waistlines. 

At 7.40pm the waitress collected the last of our plates and I readied myself for the piece de resistance, the dénouement of the evening .... dessert. 
I must add an aside here so that you can truly understand the enormity of what happened next. 

love dessert. Love it. (You may have noticed this.) Dessert is my reason for being. It is my favourite part of the meal. I do not take it lightly or frivolously. I often plan my meal backwards so that I can be sure my entree and main courses complement whatever I've decided on for dessert. I have been known, on occasion, to order a three-course meal consisting solely of dessert. It's true. There's a restaurant in Newtown in Sydney that tells stories about the time I did that for my birthday. In my own small way, I am a dessert legend. 

So at 7.40 I prepared myself for dessert. And ... and ... (I can hardly get the words out) ... the waitress advised that we could not have dessert that evening AS THERE WAS NOT TIME FOR IT

I found this .... how shall I put it? Gob-SMACKINGLY disappointing.

The waitress explained that the desserts take around 20 minutes to create. When she explained this, I understood. I'm a reasonable person. I've sat at the bar and watched them do it.

But what I CANNOT understand, however - what I cannot understand at any level -  is WHY SHE DID NOT TAKE OUR DESSERT ORDER EARLIER, KNOWING THAT WE HAD TO CLEAR OUT BY 8PM. Sorry for the shouting. I feel very passionately about this. 

Is it just me? Does anyone else agree with this? Surely it is the job of the restaurant to manage its patrons and their ordering so that everything can be fitted in within the allotted time. Was it too hard to appear at 7.20 and ask how everything was going, and mention that if we were interested in dessert, we should place an order now so as to ensure a smooth flow both for the kitchen and for our dining experience?

That seems reasonable to me. We'd have had dessert, I'd have ooohed and aaahed over it, and savoured every mouthful, and exclaimed about the wondrousness of it, and we'd have had a lovely time. I would not be writing this post right now.

But that didn't happen. Instead they just said No, we're sorry, can't be done. They did say we could go and have drinks at some place nearby, but we were not interested in drinks nearby. We were interested in dessert during the remaining twenty minutes of our allotted seating. 

As it was, we got up, we paid the bill, and we left well in advance of their 8pm deadline. 

So that was my dessert experience - or should I say non-dessert-experience - at Huxtable.  And I was mightily disappointed, for all the reasons I've mentioned, but mostly because it left a sour taste in our mouths at the end of what should have been a magnificent evening. 

Huxtable, are you so grand now that you feel you can alienate your clientele like this? This is what you say about your seating times on your website:

seating times for dinner reservations
huxtable has 2 seating times
early - 6pm til 8.15
late - 8.30 til late
our early seating start time is flexible but the 8.15 finishing time is not as we must honour the 8.30 reservations.
thank you for respecting this policy

Huxtable, I just want to say this: I respected your policy. I respected it because you're the restaurant and you get to set the terms. It was not flexible on the night I visited, and you explained that, and I was ok with it. But I also expected that I would get to have an entire meal before being booted unceremoniously out the door. And that's up to you to manage, not me.  
Huxtable, I respected you and everything that you asked. 
But you did not respect me. 

 
<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/71/1544313/restaurant/Melbourne/Huxtable-Fitzroy"><img alt="Huxtable on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/1544313/minilogo.gif" style="border:none;padding:0px;width:104px;height:15px" /></a>

9 comments:

  1. not even a takeaway bag with your dessert then!!
    i dislike bad service and this sounds like really bad service to me.
    i hope you managed to whip up something for dessert that night to calm your nerves.

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  2. I would have been equally heart broken and disappointed (I too live for dessert and plan my meal backwards). I think it reasonable to expect the waitress would advise when you would need to order dessert by to give you the opportunity to do so, if you wished. Just because you're the first sitting of the night, doesn't mean you should receive less than their best service.

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  3. So they have two set seatings times and you got kicked out 35 minutes before the stated deadline on their website? Very unprofessional.

    "They did say we could go and have drinks at some place nearby"
    How nice of them to invite you to leave.

    I hope the wait staff got a thorough bollocking for missing out on dessert orders. Surely if they did this to you, the same was happening to other patrons?

    Completely unreasonable. I hardly ever eat out (and rarely anywhere more glamourous than the RSL) yet even I am aware of Huxtable's excellent reputation. Extremely indignant on your part.

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  4. I agree, they should've gotten your dessert order earlier - or even when you ordered your dinner, as I'm sure you would've known what you wanted! Their loss, they missed out on extra moolah, and now you've told the Interweb how disappointed you are.

    You should email your complaint to them, maybe you'll get a free dessert next time you go!

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  5. That's disgraceful - leaves a very sour final impression to take away from what was obviously otherwise a meal to remember in the best of senses.

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  6. I had a similar experience ON MY BIRTHDAY at Huxtable, but over wine then mains rather than dessert - ordered a glass of wine, when I inquired after it was informed "we've run out", no substitute offered. Was told - patronisingly - that we had ordered too much food for three of us and had our order reduced. Missed out on trying the selection we'd looked forward to - surely the waiter's job is to guide rather than dictate. No charm, never returned. R

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  7. When they took your reservation they should have known there was a possibility you'd want dessert. Their poor service led to a lot of people knowing they have good food but you might not get any.

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  8. That is fairly shocking and completely unprofessional, I would be very very annoyed too. I don't always want dessert when I eat out but I certainly do want the opportunity to have it if I want to! I went to the site linked at the bottom of your post and they have blogger reviews.....have you thought about putting your review on there?

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  9. New follower :)

    I agree with you entirely. Especially since you've been there before. Knowing they set the time for you, they should've timed their service to suit accordingly (taking both main and dessert orders together).

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Say something sweet! Or, you know, not.