I don’t think I’m particularly finicky about service in general. If service in a mid-range restaurant is average, I don’t bat an eyelid and I just go on with my meal. I don’t expect exemplary service unless an establishment has made grand declarations of the stellar service they apparently provide. Yes, I do think service in the service industry is important and that service providers should go above and beyond to provide good service (cos it’s their damn jobs innit), but I personally don’t make it my business to be a service vigilante.
Also… living in Singapore, my expectations of service are unfortunately at a consistent low. I hate to generalise about my own home country like this, but I’ve noticed that service providers can be very selective about who they provide good service to – and I rarely ever make the cut. That is, until I bust out my legal chops (well hey, guess law school was good for something!)
Now what I absolutely cannot stand is poor service. The we-are-purposely-making-your-life-hard-cos-“companypolicybro” poor service, or the I’m-a-master-of-my-craft-so-don’t-you-bloody-question-me poor service.
I experienced poor service in overdrive at The Tipsy Cow on Tanjong Katong Road.
The Tipsy Cow tried to serve me mouldy parmesan for my pasta, then tried to fool me into believing the the mouldy parmesan was actually blue cheese (amazing!), then proceeded to rain verbal abuse on me for wanting to swap the mould-infested pasta for another dish.
I visited this place with a girlfriend of mine. When the manager came by to take our order, I asked him about the Primavera Pasta and then placed an order for 1 x Primavera Pasta. When it was served to me, I noticed that it was different from what was described to me, but I chose not to make an issue of it and instead asked the waiter for some parmesan for my pasta.
The parmesan was brought to my table in a self-grating device, so I proceeded to grate the cheese into my pasta. All of a sudden I noticed that there were blue specks all over the cheese shavings. I opened the grater to inspect the cheese and lo and behold, there were mouldy chunks of cheese. I brought this to the attention of the waitress who removed the cheese and my pasta dish from my table. Then I sat in wait for a server so that I could place another order for a fresh dish (since the mouldy cheese was all over my pasta). At this point, there was no question in my mind – I was sure that they would apologise and ask for another order from me and, at the very least, offer to cancel the order from our bill.
To my surprise, the manager came by, placed the plate of mouldy-cheese-pasta back onto my table and said “sorry, we can’t take this back”. I was obviously shocked but I gave him the benefit of doubt and explained what had happened.
His response? “The cheese isn’t spoilt. This is actually blue cheese.”
I was astounded that I was essentially being forced to eat a dish I didn’t want, but more than that, I was utterly aghast that this establishment was attempting to pass off mouldy food as good, edible food.
Firstly, I had clearly asked for “parmesan”, which is a common request by customers who order italian dishes, namely pizza and pasta.
Secondly, even if you think it fit to serve a different type of cheese to your customers, blue cheese is not at all the appropriate substitute for parmesan. Blue cheese has a distinctly different taste and texture from parmesan and you would be hard pressed to find any reputable establishment that does not know this.
Thirdly, and most importantly, THE TIPSY COW TRIED PASSING OFF MOULDY CHEESE AS BLUE CHEESE AND THOUGHT THEY COULD GET AWAY WITH IT.
Of course I refused to take the dish back. I told the manager that I would be happy to order another dish, but there is no way I would eat the mouldy-cheese-pasta, so why don’t you just take my order for another dish and we’ll both be on our way. After some more back and forth, the manager reluctantly made another trip to the kitchen, presumably to ask the chef if this was okay, and came back to tell me once again “yea, nope, we won’t be taking this back, so here”. At this point, as you can imagine, I had had quite enough of their abysmal service, so I told our dear manager to just cancel the order from our bill because there is no way that I am eating that dish.
(By the way, this brings it to a total of THREE ATTEMPTS TO FORCE ME TO EAT THEIR MOULDY FOOD)
But wait. It gets worse.
Then the chef comes by our table, guns blazing, towering over us, extremely aggressive, yelling at us, with his spit flying all over the table (and my friend’s food) – ALL BECAUSE HE WAS OFFENDED THAT I HAD SENT THE FOOD BACK. For a moment there, I was scared because of how aggressive he was. My friend and I were sitting in a corner, with no chance of escape, because the manager and chef were blocking our only route out. But once I remembered that there were enough people around to witness any assault if it were to occur, I told them once again to cancel the order because I would not be paying for it. They eventually (reluctantly) agreed, because short of grabbing my wallet and stealing my money, there was nothing else they could really do.
I am painfully aware of how long this review is, so I won’t delve into what exactly the chef yelled at us, but… it wasn’t pretty.
This is astonishing behaviour, not to mention probably illegal.
This restaurant truly believes that it can get away with fooling customers into believing that the mouldy or rotten food they serve is actually fresh and that customers are ignorant about food. It was unfortunate for them that I discovered that they were serving mouldy cheese, but I got lucky, and realistically the average customer will never ever know if rotten food has been cooked into their dishes.
As you can imagine, I was upset! So I wrote a review, simples.
A couple of days later, the owner contacted me via messenger after seeing my review, to find out who the perpetrators were. Here is a screenshot of the conversation:
This is the last I heard of this incident. Because I very nearly forgot about this, the abusive chef probably got away scot-free. The owner never got back to me. Heck, she never even apologised! She just said that she was “upset… if what [I] said was true”.
Am I really the first and only one to have been treated this way at Tipsy Cow? Or do people just stay silent about horrific service?
Whatever it is, it’s unfathomable to me that this restaurant is still in operation. If you are thinking of patronising this establishment, I cannot stress this enough – DO. NOT. GO. THERE.
The food was second-rate anyway.