Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Starry Kitchen II: If You Don't Like the Food, Get Out and Don't Come Back!
I belatedly found out that my negative (gasp!) review of cult-favorite Starry Kitchen had caused somewhat of a stir on its fan page with all sorts of haters out there for yours truly. That explains the huge spike in visitors that one day, I told myself with some amusement.
What was truly disturbing, however, was the reaction from the owner when I went to pay the restaurant another visit to see if I'd like it the second time. This was before I knew about the outrage among fans. He, who usually borders on solicitous to incoming customers as he gregariously sings the virtues of his food, how to order, etc., took one look at me and blurted out, "You hate this place" and moved right on to the next customer standing in line behind me.
I don't expect to be given favorable treatment when I visit a restaurant but I don't expect owners to be rude to me when I give them a negative review. In fact, I've had owners and employees of restaurants write to me apologizing for the bad experience and letting me know they take what I wrote in stride and hope I will return for a better experience.
If it had been a scathing review that was malicious, that'd be a different story. But I had merely pointed out that the fried pork in my sandwich was cold and the sandwiches were bland and flavorless. I felt the same way about the curry rice that came as a side. Don't even get me started on the unremarkable japchae.
Ironically enough, the crab cake wrap I had on my second visit was a lot better -- the crab cake was actually warm and while it was still on the bland side, I guess that's what the Sriracha sauce is for. I just wish that restaurants wouldn't have to tone down their flavors and heat quotient to cater to a certain type of customer base.
The owner proceeded to "diss" me one more time throughout the course of my second visit although eventually he was "forced" to take my order. It's really no skin off my back if he treats all unhappy customers that way. I just think that it violates the fundamental notion of hospitality, which is to make it a pleasant experience for your customers -- whether that is through the food, ambiance or perhaps most importantly, the service.
True, it's his establishment and he can refuse service to anyone. But as a budding restaurateur, would you really want to be in denial about the existence of anyone who says anything negative about your food? Do you think that your food is that perfect? Well, it isn't and this is true for any startup restaurant that is test-driving different menu items. Things like serving a fried sandwich that is cold isn't a matter of taste or preference. It's a given that certain foods must be served at certain temperatures.
I wish I had tried food from its NoHo days but all have to go by is its downtown location. There are far too many restaurants I want to go to for me to be compelled to return to this one, but all I have to say is that arrogance was never a virtue for a restaurant.