Anyone who has dined with me before knows how patient and polite I am with wait staff. I say “thank you” and “please” and “hello” and “May I.” I chat playfully with them, maybe even flirt a little. When friends around me get angry with inept service, I pacify my friends and apologize for the wait staff. I excuse them, saying they are green or they are busy. I’m patient because I know they are just doing their job. Why not let them enjoy their work? Why get angry and shout at them and make the situation unpleasant? Getting angry doesn’t solve anything and nobody likes to be scolded.
But I get angry at prejudiced service. When we were ready to order, we called for a waitress and she brushed us off. Time and time again, she passed our table to the table with angmohs and ignored us.
Rain was splattering onto us; we sat at Table A which was at the pavement. When we moved to Table B on the inside, she commanded brusquely, “You’re only two people. This table sits 4. Sit at Table C.” I didn’t see there was an empty Table C for 2 on the inside, or I would have sat there. Even if I did notice the table, she could have talked to us politely.
I left my wallet at the original Table A in the rain. She noticed it, took it and slammed my wallet on Table C. Without a single word.
I understand when a person is busy, she may come across a little rude, although such service shouldn’t be tolerated. I’ve made allowance for many restaurants because the service staff cannot cope. But her attitude, we observed, was so different for us and for angmohs. For angmohs, she was all smiles and answered politely and shyly. But she ignored us and when she did notice us, she was curt, didn’t help us carry our drinks to next table, and slammed my wallet on the table.
So we waited some time for the food. Waiting was OK when they were busy. But I saw our burger ($20) sitting at the counter for some time and no one delivered it to us. (I didn’t know it was our order at first.)
I put up with bad service. I tolerated waiting time. But I draw the line at eating cold food. I’m very serious about my food and besides, it’s unhygienic to eat cold food. My patience was at end.
The manager came to talk to us. Because I put up with the bad service for so long, I exploded at this time, “I don’t want this burger. Change another one for us. Why is it sitting at the counter for so long and not delivered to us?”
“We serve everything when all dishes are done. Your other dish is taking some time to cook.”
I replied, “Ok. Then why didn’t your chef estimate the cooking time for both dishes and make sure they come out hot together?”
She retorted, “But is the food cold?”
WOW. I already told her I saw with my own eyes that the food was sitting at the counter. She herself knew the burger was there. She passed by it a few times and left it there. And she questioned a customer back?? What kind of service is that?! Not a single “sorry” from her. With a manager like her, no wonder the waitress was so badly behaved.
When the burger came a second time, it wasn’t a new burger. It was the same burger cooked twice. The surface of patty was darker and the fries was fried twice to a brown so they were completely crisp without that soft centre. But to be fair, the burger was delicious. Moist and juicy inside. And the lemongrass mayo dip was original, smart, and addictive.
When the laksa fisherman’s pie ($23) came, I was angry again. How the f was this a pie? It was a bowl of laksa with a wafer of puff pastry on top. Don’t know what a pie is? Go to Polar and find out. Although the laksa wasn’t spicy–Hey angmoh crowd right–the ingredients were abundant. So much crab meat and dory fish. The dish itself wasn’t bad but this was absolutely, definitely not a pie.
I wouldn’t argue over nomenclature if I wasn’t so pissed off by the service in the first place. I wanted to hurl the fork into the bowl, splash the laksa, and overturn the bowl. I admit, it was irrational anger at bad service, bad management, and no consideration, accumulated over the course of the meal. Instead, I buried my face in my palms and took 3 deep breaths.
We paid $57 for two persons, including an extra $1/customer surcharge that went into the wait staff with terrible manners. My recommendation? Come here if you’re White.
Epicurious, thanks for bringing us back to colonial times. Good times.
Edit: It is brought to my attention that many people have misread this review, thinking it’s a racial, xenophobic rant. It is not. My issue is with how the cafe deals with its customers by racial profiling; I’ve nothing against people of any races. We live in a globalized world, we are all citizens of the world. Boundaries are imaginary lines we draw on maps. If you see the earth from space, there are no lines. I lived in New York for a few years and experienced both welcome and ostracism by the people, so I understand personally any form of xenophobia is wrong. I just want to be treated as an equal by the cafe, nothing more, nothing less. We blame the racial prejudice we faced entirely on the cafe’s service staff and management.
60 Robertson Quay, #01-02 The Quayside, Singapore 238252
T: +65 6734 7720
T-F 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm, Weekends 9am-5pm
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.