Monday, 21 February 2011

Eating out in Dubai: Is the attitude worth it?

Anyone who's been in Dubai for a number of years has seen it.  The number of places to eat out has mushroomed (no pun intended).  There is more choice.  There are more cuisines.  There are more locations.  They've generally all become a lot more expensive.  There is a lot more attitude.

The last point is one that always rattles me up the most.  I don't mind paying more if I get my money's worth but don't charge a premium and make it seem like you're doing me a favour.  A lot of the "hot" spots to eat in Dubai (again, no pun intended), really end either giving you close to no service or make you feel unwelcome, that you have to think why do you spend this money on them?

More and more, I've found myself going back to the older, trusted establishments in Dubai.  They still know you.  They've in many cases maintained the quality of their offering.  They're more expensive than they once were but you know what you can expect in terms of food, ambience and service.  They're more flexible to listen to you.  They make you feel welcome.  They will be in business years after those restaurants with attitude shut down.

One recent example was at Vintage in Wafi City.  Like most of the restaurants in the Wafi Pyramids, Vintage has been around for a while and even though it's not the busiest place in town, they've managed to maintain their quality and their professionalism.  On a recent visit there, my wife and I had ordered a fondue which took its own sweet time to make its way to our table.  When we did get it, I dug in straight away, however, my wife felt it didn't taste the same.  A few minutes later, the manager came over, asked us how things were and then apologized immediately.  I wasn't at first sure what he was apologizing for but he said he'd been told by our server that our fondue had taken a lot longer to be delivered to us than it usually does and the reason was the the chef didn't have right ingredients that day.  He had compromised and made sure he got us a fondue but wasn't fully satisfied with it (though I had no complaints with it).  As a result, our fondue was on the house.

While the taste may not have been the same, the fact is, I still found it pretty good and enjoyed it nonetheless.  We made sure there wasn't a trace of it left (despite the fact that she found it tasted different), but it just goes to show, that despite the fact that we wouldn't have complained and were overall satisfied with our experience at Vintage, the restaurant wasn't and didn't felt it was right to charge us for something they didn't think was right.

It's not often you see this or hear of this.  Where will you find your experiences normally at their best is still in the same tried and tested establishments.

I do hope certain over-priced Asian-food restaurants in fancy surroundings in a local financial centre understand this as do the many new restaurants that have opened and still feel they're doing me a favour by feeding me.  I do have a choice and I can choose to eat elsewhere.