Having some business to attend to at the nearby Qantas offices last Friday (16th May), I decided on a late lunch at The Rose Cafe of the Okura Garden Hotel. The main reason for my choice was that I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Okura chain in Japan and was looking forward to more of the same in Shanghai. Sadly, I was disappointed! The Garden Hotel may have the "Okura" cachet but it certainly doesn't even attempt to reach the heights of decor, taste and service of the original.
Decor. The Rose Cafe is a sad, wilted old flower indeed. With no windows at all, the famed garden could be illusory. The decor inside is simply dated and the place has all the elegant ambience of an overly large Chinese cafeteria!
Taste. I earnestly kept trying all the dishes looking for some but found very
Service. What service? The young waitress was not only linguistically challenged, she could barely utter a word in English, but she seemed handicapped in the personality department as well, with a cold stone face covering any human emotions. The worst part of the service, however, was the elderly restaurant manager, who should have known much better. What hope for the young if their elders don't lead by example? Nothing wrong with her English but it became clear from her behaviour at the end that customers weren't people to her but mere walking wallets and when they've paid up they cease to matter. She wasn't overworked but when I left there wasn't a smile, a word, a wave from her. Nothing. I don't expect servility, that never, but good old fashioned service? Yes! In an authentic Japanese Okura one would have been graced with honest, friendly, efficient service, and no servility.
To add insult to injury, the meal wasn't cheap either. Appetiser, main course, side salad, fruit platter, and double espresso; all washed down with bottles of Perrier and a playful but still jejune German Riesling - $AUD 250. Ouch! That, madam, should have been worth a smile, no servility ... just a token of friendly service!
I did go to complain to the hotel's duty manager. After advising him to have a chat to the restaurant staff on how they could improve their service manner, I concluded by saying that I didn't really care whether he took my advice or not because I never intend setting foot in the "Okura" Garden Hotel ever again.