Jay Rayner over at the UK Guardian wrote a hilarious article recently about 12 things restaurants should stop doing in 2016. I agreed with every single on of them. The one I agreed with most emphatically, was the one about restaurants serving unsalted butter with the bread basket. I mean really. What kind of sadist must you be to eat bland fat?
Anyway, if you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I have had a fair few rants about Nigerian restaurants (or rather restaurants in Nigeria) and the demented stunts they pull. So Jay’s article gave me an idea to do a similar list but for restaurants in Nigeria. I thought that would be fun. What would also be fun, is if you guys added to the list in the comment section below.
Stop lying about what’s on my plate. You cannot say on the menu that you are serving sea bass and then serve croaker instead. That is false advertising and lying and it makes me soooooo angry because it means you are sitting smugly in the back believing that your customers are stupid and clapping yourself on the back for being a genius.
You are a restaurant, not the World Food Organisation. This means you should specialise in a particular cuisine or theme. I am tired of walking into restaurants and seeing Nigerian, Continental (whatever that means) and Oriental cuisines on the same menu. Nkwobi and Schezuan prawns are not bed fellows and the pungent smell of crayfish is a tad confusing when you are trying to eat a medium well steak.
Speaking of steak, can we just not? Unless you have hired a proper chef, who knows his cuts of meat and how to cook them, just don’t even go there. I am tired of being served anorexic, dehydrated brown fibre of indeterminate origin and being told it is steak. Shoe get size. If it looks like something you can put in assorted meat stew, along with roundabout and brokoto, chances are it should probably go there, and not under a creamy mushroom sauce duvet where it does not belong. I’m just saying.
And then this whole putting sausage inside shawarma thing. Please let us clear this up once and for all. It is a bad practice and completely spiritually wrong. Shawarmas should have beautifully seasoned grilled meat and vegetables. The sausage thing smacks of the type of gluttony and excess that I cannot stand. Especially because it is never an artisan sausage which has arresting features of its own, but an unremarkable and limp frankfurter with no prospects, whose daily self-talk is FML, FML, FML.
Not having a sommelier even in so called fine dining establishments. Enough said. Why oh why, do restaurants not bother to hire in expertise for the drinks? The next waiter who says to me, ‘madam try this wine, you will like it because it is sweet,’ I may very well punch in the teeth. One, because I hate sweet wine and two, because grrrrrr!
The other thing I find particularly annoying is when they don’t have anything on the menu. Everything is finished. And the only thing available to have is the very thing you don’t want to have because you are allergic, but then they try and convince you that you should try it anyway and that their own is ‘very hygenic’ which is cute, because they must somehow figure that the last time your throat swelled up and you couldn’t breathe and almost died from ingesting said allergen, it was because the other restaurants own was ‘unhygenic’. It is basically a promise from them to you that their diligence with cleaning and such can save you from a life threatening allergy. How cute.
Serving tired freezer food and trying to make us think they made it from scratch. The main victim of this treatment is calamari. After several freeze/thaw cycles in the supermarket due to no light, and then the same freeze/thaw cycle between the shops and the restaurant, and then yet more freeze/thaw cycles in the restaurant due to no light/gen breakdowns etc, the calamari is fried vigorously in old oil and then presented on a bed of lettuce leaves. Is there some expected spiritual transfer whereby the exhausted calamari might now regain new life via the lettuce? Hey! Calamari has suffered in this country sha. *hands on head*
Mopping the floors with that horrible industrial cleaner that smells like ass. You guys know the one I mean, where you walk into a restaurant and the decor’s all nice and the air conditioning is working so you are not immediately able to put your finger on what’s got your senses roaring. And then just as you sit down to eat, you realise that it smells like a public toilet and you just want out.
One of the biggest things I want restaurants to stop doing in 2016 is messing up the bill. Years ago, when the bill came, you had to scrutinize it to make sure they hadn’t cleverly slipped a few extras on there to inflate your bill. These days however, I find that you have to check to make sure they haven’t left things off. The number of times I have to remind them pointedly that actually we had three glasses of white wine, not two; or that we between us ate six peppered snails not four. See ehn, I have said that in this 2016, I am not here for balancing other people’s books. If I come to your establishment, and eat and drink to my hearts content, and you who is sober, with all the power of modern technology in your till supporting you, cannot keep track of what I consumed, then you don’t deserve to be paid for it. I am done being your maths whiz. If you are going to rely on my brain to do your job while I am on my leisure time, then we are sharing the profit. Anything costs you leave off are your loss. Shikena.
You know when there are 2 chicken dishes on the menu, and you feel like today is an anointed day to eat some chicken, so you ask the waiter what the difference is between the two and he/she shrugs and says something inane like, ‘they are both nice.’ That really irritates me because it means the restaurant staff are not well trained. I did not ask you for a value judgement based on your taste. I asked you for technical information such as, ‘oh one is dry and peppery and the other comes in a lemon gravy.’ Like, it is so simple. Get it right.
When the waiters cannot open a bottle of wine in a credible fashion. No word of a lie, I now have a wine opener as part of my hand bag kit. I promise you. Several times, I have had to open my own wine, because the waiter has deemed it imperative to drill through the cork at an angle a few different times, and litter the wine with little curls of cork. Restaurants need to stop this. It makes me weak.
Not paying attention and not writing orders down. If you bring efo riro with beef and pounded yam when I ordered affang with goat meat and boiled green plantain, that is how I will just be looking at you. Na you go chop am.
I know I said 12 but there’s just one more – garnishing food with concentric onion rings. Can we evolve to a more sophisticated method of plating. Please, pretty please?
What are your pet peeves about restaurants?