30 May 2011

Boatshed Café: Waiter there’s a hair in my Prawn Cocktail, La Perouse (29 May 2011)

1609 Anzac Parade,
La Perouse NSW 2036

3 strikes and you’re out

After a nice 3 hour bush walk with friends around the Cape Banks Circuit in the Botany Bay National Park it was time to treat one of our friends for a birthday lunch. We decided for convenience to check out the Boatshed Café nearby which seemed to have water views from the restaurant balcony section. Keep in mind the restaurant has a more expensive menu than the café located inside and the dishes are served from the same kitchen. The Garlic Bread ($3.50, 2 pieces) was OK and as expected. Our birthday friend ordered the Prawn cocktail ($13) for nostalgic reasons served in sundae glassware. The prawns seemed decent quality but were cut into small pieces rather than being served traditionally whole and lathered with cocktail sauce on top with a bed of lettuce underneath.

The Prawn cutlets ($20, 5 pieces) were deep fried to a decent crisp although I’m suspecting they were of the frozen variety due to their texture and lack of prawn flavour. Chips were nice enough and of the frozen pack variety. The Deep fried whiting fillets ($24) looked as expected and seemed OK. My Grilled Trout Fillets served with chips and salad ($23) was singular rather than plural but decent sized with basic presentation and I only found a few small bones to contend with. It was interesting to note all the main course dishes included salad even though it wasn’t listed on the menu so keep in mind in case you’re thinking of ordering a salad as a side. The meals were pleasant enough and the atmosphere fairly relaxing as we settled in to catch up until am unfortunate discovery.

Now, from time to time we all come across something unexpected in a dish or restaurant that can put a real dampener on the dining experience. I’ve had my fair share like a cockroach at A Tavola, inexperienced service and air conditioning problems at Wang Wang Shanghai Silver Star, unfortunate bad service at Bécasse and even some metal in my ramen at Menya Noodle Bar. But no matter what happens a true test of a restaurant is how they respond to a customer complaint. Unfortunately when our friend discovered a rather large black hair in the middle of his prawn cocktail the Boatshed Café failed terribly. When I called over the young waitress and explained what we’d found she replied with an unemotional dismissive ‘yep’ as if it was normal and casually took it away to the kitchen — no apology, but perhaps she thought it wasn’t her fault and had other things on her mind, like clocking off work — Strike 1.

Two minutes later she returns to say ‘do you want anything else’. Still no apology or empathy and our friends appetite is now somewhat diminished so thanks but no thanks — Strike 2. Ten minutes passes and the head waitress comes to the table to say she’s heard about the dish but was not shown it and apologises for what happened with some sincerity. She later comes to take away finished plates while others are still eating at the table which isn’t the best thing to do. The final straw, Strike 3, comes when the bill arrives. We notice the prawn cocktail ($12) is still charged but she says she’s managed to not charge us for the 3 soft drinks totally $9, oh, how nice of her, not! WTF! I question the charge when paying and she said the chef owner decided that the dish had mostly been eaten so it should be charged. Gee, I wish would we found the hair on top of the dish so we could have brought it to their attention sooner. OMG! Perhaps we should have been only charged half the amount then since the other half had a hair in it? They obviously don’t realise the full extent of how badly handled this was. I seriously wonder how they would feel if they were served a hair in their dish. Would they expect to be charged for it without a sincere apology and acknowledgment of the circumstance? No wonder the reviews of Eatability are so bad giving a current score of 5.8 after 24 reviews — I hope to add mine to the list soon.

PS. I would have emailed this review to the restaurant but I couldn’t find a website or contact email address to do so. Hopefully it’ll be brought to their attention somehow.

PROS: Water views, Cheaper menu available from cafe inside, Plenty of free parking around, It's was hard to think of any others due to the dining experience
CONS: Dishes are a bit pricey for what you get, Perfunctory service, Expect to pay for your dish if you get a hair in it, Décor needs an update, Have to go outside and around building to get to single toilet which don’t smell particularly clean
MUST TRY: Not revisiting, ever! And hoping the food authority might pay them a little visit soon.

Prawn cocktail ($13)

Long black hair found underneath dressing and some prawn pieces of prawn cocktail

Garlic Bread ($3.50, 2 pieces)

Prawn cutlets - Butterfly prawns deep fried served with chips and tartare sauce ($20, 5 pieces)

Prawn cutlet batter — crispy although prawn fairly flavourless. Seems to be of the frozen variety rather than freshly made.

Deep fried whiting fillets ($24)

Grilled Trout Fillets served with chips and salad ($23)

Tartare sauce

Bill $91 for 4 people. Head waitress discounted 3 soft drinks worth $9. The owner/chef reasoning for charging for the prawn cocktail was that to them it was mostly eaten, WTF! If only the hair was on top of the prawn cocktail, then perhaps it wouldn't have been eaten at all.

Entree and salad menu

Main course menu — all above $20

Advertised as 'For fresh seafood & pleasant beach side dining you won't find better' — I'm afraid I think you have to try a bit harder to deserve this statement

Balony reserved for restaurant dining only — better view but higher priced menu compared to cafe inside

Cheaper menu cafe located inside

Water view — albeit shipping container port in the distance

View Larger Map
The Boatshed Cafe on Urbanspoon


Lex said...

Wow that's a massive epic fail! To be honest I think the food looks pretty average anyway. Won't be going there in a hurry!

The Food Mentalist said...

Wow! That's appalling!!!! How nice of them to take the 3 softdrinks off, NOT!
I had a rather disappointing dining experience at Omerta in Darlinghurst last week and have emailed the owner detailing this. I totally agree that it's how a restaurant deals with a complaint that sets them ahead or in your case behind the rest. Shocking!
I sit and wait now for a response from Omerta, let's hope its not as bad as The Boatshed.
Thx for the post, I won't be going there in the future.

muppy said...

I hate when you have awkward dining experiences, I don't get to eat out that much and when I do want a special experience.

lateraleating said...

Wow, service sucks in that place! And the food doesn't look that good either, for example those sad pale chips.

wholesomecook said...

Some people work in hospitality not because of their passion for food and great Service, but because they just need a job. Sounds exactly that's what's happening at that place. It's a shame. I'm surprised the owner doesn't recognize this and has become like those he hires...

Richard Elliot said...

As you say, these things can happen, but it is how they are dealt with that makes a difference. Giving you a $9 discount (the drinks) on a dish that cost $12 just doesn't make sense. What were they thinking?

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Eww..... Dining options in La Perouse are fairly dismal, unfortunately...

sara (Belly Rumbles) said...

I actually had lunch on a weekday with a friend about 18 months ago. We ate in the restaurant area.

Cheap looking tables and chairs with, what I thought, quite expensive meals for what you got.

I was lucky and escaped the hair, but just having a normal non event lunch there made me not feel the need for a return visit.

joey@FoodiePop said...

What great service! I think I'll ring and make my booking right now ....

Anonymous said...

Last time I ate there was 2-3yrs ago for my dads birthday, I promised I will never go back, even though its my mums favourite place as it reminds her of her island back home.

The owner was so rude and offensive to the point I was going to ring her and let her know as she needs to be told, it spoilt the experience. My parents do go back, but I never join them as it left a sour taste in my mouth!

Aidan said...

We are regulars to the cafe at Maroubra Beach and often say to ourselves we should head to LaPerouse for a change - But I think now we will stick to Maroubra where we are all fed well and leave with smiles.

john@heneedsfood said...

Oh dear. This is not good. Yes, accidents do happen but this wasn't handled the way it should have been. The lousy first waitress needs a kick up the backside by management and I wouldn't be using the word "chef" when the short-order cook clearly uses prawn cutlets from a frozen packet.

Belinda said...

That's so revolting! At least we no not to head there now.

Belinda said...

I meant to write know not 'no' (excuse me I have brain fuzz from a head cold).

Anonymous said...

That is kinda gross! I mean, look, hair gets into food - it's disgusting, but it happens. But yeah, it's all in the way its handled. My brother once ate at a cafe in Sydney and found a bandaid in his salad! Again, gross, but the staff handled it so well, we so apologetic, made him another salad and comped his meal. Definitely won't be heading here, and will warn other people too!

Wendy @ OBesebaby said...

its a shame about the hair incident, the way they handle and not even a sorry is really unacceptable!

Luana said...

Eww definitely would not go there based on your review. How dare they charge for the meal with the hair!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Eeerggh seeing that hair makes me sick! Looks like they won't be seeing me there with that attitude!

Dave said...

It doesn't really take much to give someone an apology and take a meal off the bill, as opposed to doing the opposite and having to face the consequences - which are always much much worse.
And it's always a shame when you find a great looking place that's let down by it's food and service.

sugarpuffi said...

oh gee what horrible experience! remind me not to visit!

Jenn Brigole said...

Tsktsk. With their known service to be this poor, one might think it their purpose of not having any contact details for food goers to use. This is simply sad. They should learn better table manners (the owner chef at least).

Simon Food Favourites said...

hi lex, epics fail indeed. it doesn't take that much energy to be sorry.

hi the food mentalist, i hope omerta gets back to you with a favourable response.

hi muppy, we all hope for a nice dining experience when we go out that's for sure.

hi lateraleating, the chips were ok but they were pretty standard frozen fare ones. probably the safest thing to have if you get take away.

hi wholesomecook, i guess a case of leading by example

hi richard, i don't think they were thinking. the preferable outcome would have been a sincere apology, for the meal to be taken off the menu and if they were nice about it the drinks to be free or providing a free dessert perhaps to make up for the bad experience.

hi tina, you're right there.

hi sara, the same cheap tables and chairs and definitely still there. i feel no need to revisit too.

hi joey, hehe

hi anonymous, sounds like things haven't changed.

hi aidan, keep to maroubra if you're on a good thing and go to la perouse for the views alone

hi john, i like your management style. you're right about cook rather than chef. basic bistro cafe style food to be had.

hi belinda, i wish i read the Eatability reviews before going then i would have been prewarned.

hi anonymous, OMG a bandaid. that's pretty gross. beats a hair any day.

hi wendy, i can't imagine they'll be in business for too long if that's the way they treat their customers.

hi luana, i wonder how much they charge for a cockroach in the salad? ;-)

hi vivian, the only thing i'd go back for if i had to get something would probably be hot chips and a drink. they surely can't stuff that up.

hi dave, it is a really nice location that should be better to take advantage of the view. oh well.

hi sugarpuffi, i'm sure you'll remember if you're ever in the area

hi jenn, i never thought of that but you could be right. hopefully they'll improve over time for the sake of their business and to try and build up loyal customer base. but perhaps they already do and have had better luck than me.

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