We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Amazing Sunday buffet” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Mem-Saab - CLOSED

Mem-Saab
Cuisines: Indian, Asian
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Highchairs Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Bedford
Level Contributor
13 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Amazing Sunday buffet”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 18, 2012

The Sunday buffet here is delicious. Really fresh food brought out on regular basis and quality is excellent. Some classic dishes mixed in with interesting new ones to try. Starters and desserts mean my children absolutely love going there too. Fantastic value 3 courses of such tasty, quality food. Restaurant is clean and modern. Only reason not giving excellent is service which is good but nothing special otherwise highly recommend a visit.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Escapedfortheday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

79 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    39
    22
    8
    6
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bedford, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
92 reviews
48 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 157 helpful votes
“I wouldn't go back if it was free”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 10, 2012

I'll start with the nutshell version: Despite all reviews/awards, my first (and last) experience of this restaurant bore no relation, I barely ate anything and found the service diabolical (other than the very friendly lady who appeared to be in charge). I was sorely disappointed and for me it completely ruined a nice evening out with my partner. For the longer version, please read on. I make no apologies for the length of this review - sadly I have much to say and not very much of it is positive.

As great fans of Indian cuisine who frequent many of the local restaurants - plenty to choose from in Bedford - we are familiar with standards of service and menu choices. Mostly, Indian restaurants offer a quality of customer service and politeness that far exceeds many of the others on offer. On my first visit to Mem Saab, this is the benchmark on which I judged them, I feel I have a fair point of comparison from the other local restaurants.

We were "greeted" by a waiter who clearly hadn't the faintest idea how to meet and greet guests. Most other places offer to take your coat, show you to your table and pull the chairs out for customers. This guy pointed at a table and directed us to sit there, coats on the back of our chairs. No sooner had we sat down than he came to take a drink order, before even having a chance to look at the wine menu. We managed to select our drinks. He went off to get these at the bar, in plain sight of us and rather than providing any kind of service to us - such as a menu for example, or offering poppadoms etc - he stood leaning on his elbows waiting for the drinks. Nobody else in there seemed to notice we didn't have even have the most fundamental aspect of restaurant dining.

When he brought the drinks back, I was drinking wine, my partner had a pint of lager. He offered my partner the wine to taste, which I let slide as, antiquated though the practice is, traditionally it's the "man" who tastes the wine... Mem Saab should however be aware that in today's culture of equality, it's inappropriate to completely ignore the woman who is actually drinking the beverage. My partner tasted the wine and accepted it, at which point the waiter asked if HE would like a glass poured. My partner replies "no thank you, I'm fine with my lager at the moment" (the same pint of lager that the same waiter had just brought for him) - so the waiter actually goes to put the lid back on the bottle!!! My partner says "perhaps you could pour a glass for my partner..." which the waiter does - and at NO POINT prior to this did the waiter even acknowledge that I was part of this process.

So, he pours my wine and walks off.... at which point I called after him (very irritated at this stage) to ask if there was any possibility we could even get a menu..... "oh yeah" came the reply.

Another man steps in - I gather from his demeanour he was a manager/owner or certainly a senior member of staff. I advised him that so far I was not impressed. He apologises and explains that the waiter is new. I said that I understood everyone has to learn but would rather it wasn't at my expense. (I'm bearing in mind that the waiter obviously hadn't even been shown the barest basics of how to meet and greet or provide a menu - whose fault is this??). He provides the menus.

Now to me, had we seen the menu before ordering wine, I would have chosen for us to eat elsewhere. There wasn't anything on it that was "different" or unique to the restaurant, it wasn't easy to read - typeface not very clear at all - and there was little explanation of dishes or their heat/spice content. I elected for a main course based on other restaurants. Selection of side dishes and rice etc were limited so when ordering, we had to ask if we could get an item which was not on the menu - which was agreed.

When the food came out, my order, including the non-standard side dish, was so hot that it burned my mouth. I was careful about ordering as I don't have a high heat/spice tolerance and prefer something on the milder end of the scale - flavour not heat. I prefer not to be in physical pain from my food, that - to me - is not an enjoyable meal. My partner tried it, having a much higher tolerance than me - he also agreed it was hot. The friendly lady came over to ask if our food was okay; we advised that the dish was much hotter than expected and that I couldn't eat it. She responded that the waiter should have told us on ordering that it was a hot dish (as I mentioned - there was no guidance on the menu). She did offer to replace the dish, which was kind of her, but by then I'd had just about enough and that would have caused a delay and staggered eating - hardly conducive to a pleasant evening out with my partner. I declined this. She did offer me yoghurt to cool it but as I'm dairy intolerant I couldn't do this (not her fault of course). I couldn't swap dishes with my partner either for this reason as his was a dairy based dish.

Battling on, I managed about a quarter of the meal - very poor show. On collecting the plates, the previously mentioned male senior asked my partner if we were happy with our meal - I'd have though the fact that I'd barely touched mine was evidence. So again, he was advised that the dish was inedible to me and that I'd had no indication from the menu that it would be a hot dish. He advised that I should have realised this as the menu said the dish contained chili. I beg to differ - chili is an ingredient in many Asian dishes and doesn't necessarily indicate the heat level as, of course, there are varying quantities added to dishes to determine this. I definitely should have been advised on ordering. He did concede that I should have been told.

There was nothing on the dessert menu for me (all contained dairy - not a sorbet in sight) so all I ate was a starter.

The bill showed no reduction for the fact that I'd been served an inedible meal due to the lack of information on the menu or advice from staff. I would have expected at least some courtesy gesture, given that by this time I'd already made the man aware that I was a disappointed customer who wouldn't be returning.... all he had responded with was "give me another chance and I'll show you". The non-standard item on the bill was charged at a ridiculous price, I challenged this and it was reduced. I fully accept there are overheads and profit margins to consider but let's be realistic. We were also charged extra for some onion chutney we'd had with the poppadoms - there wasn't enough for us in the first offerings so we asked for some more. I was disappointed to find this was charged at £1.20 where other restaurants would not have done so.

On collecting the payment, the same man discussed with us (or rather my partner) the experience - my partner had enjoyed his food, I'm pleased to say - at least one of us had a good meal! After he fed this back, I said that I definitely wouldn't be returning - although my partner may come back, I certainly wouldn't be coming back with him... again the response was "you give me one more chance and I'll show you..." (something very empty and ambiguous... I'm not really sure what he intended to change) - to which I replied "my partner might come back, but I assure you, I won't ever come in here again".

One would think, from this, that it was clear I expressed my own feelings perfectly adequately - but the straw that broke this camel's back was when the man, in direct response to MY comment, turned TO MY PARTNER, with what I can only describe as a "male solidarity" smirk and said to him "you'll bring her back the next time you come, won't you...?"

How to seriously insult, offend and alienate your female customers.

I'm very well aware that in the Asian cultures the male partner takes far more of a lead role and female tends to err towards compliance - but I'm not Asian, nor were we in Asia. I think it was also abundantly clear, having communicated my own dissatisfaction and experience throughout the course of the meal, that I was able to adequately express myself and my choices. I pointed out - with extreme irritation at this point - that I was perfectly capable of making my own decisions, I have my own mind and I speak for myself. He just laughed. At this we got our own coats and left. Even though he had enjoyed his own meal, my partner agreed that I'd had some terrible service.

What we get from other local Indian restaurants - our all time favourite in Bedford is the Asia Lounge, where we are treated as valued guests, communicated with as equally important customers, coats are taken, brought back and even held for us to assist us putting them on. At many of the restaurants: Asia Lounge, Dawat, Bengal Brasserie, The Grand - to name but a few - a complimentary drink is offered after the meal. Not essential, but certainly an additional touch of customer service. Waiters generally meet us at the door, welcome us, show us to the table collecting menus along the way so that as we are seated we are presented immediately with the menu choices....

I should also clarify at this point (in case anyone mistakenly thinks they were rushed off their feet and pressure caused a lapse) there were only two other tables occupied when we first entered the restaurant; although the friendly lady said the restaurant was heavily booked later in the evening, it certainly was not a case of inability to manage the customers in there for the duration of our visit.


All in all, I had a terrible experience at Mem Saab and I would not return even if the entire meal were complimentary. I felt in no way like a valued customer, I left the restaurant hungry and offended. When I compare this to the other experiences locally, Mem Saab's overall service has a lot to improve on. If this were a standard throughout other local restaurants then I could understand the attitude but I can truthfully say that we have received service far superior to this in every other Indian restaurant in town. On that basis, why on earth would I ever consider returning to this one.

Well done Mem Saab - you ruined a nice evening out for my partner and me and got yourself a diabolical review for your troubles.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Julie G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford
Level Contributor
56 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Every visit is a new pleasure”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2012

The food is a standard above everything else in the town. We particulary look forward to the specials - always something new and interesting to try. The veggie options are extra special. This restaurant excels every time.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank Shaugho
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
52 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
“Try the Sunday Buffet”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 21, 2012

Excellent restaurant, a bit of the beaten track of the Tavistock St run but worth a visit. The Sunday buffet is particularly good. All freshly prepared and absolutely delicious! The staff are attentive and friendly and make the experience a delight.

A bit more expensive than most of Bedford's curry houses but you most definitely get what you pay for!

  • Visited September 2012
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Weaselbirch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bedford, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Perfect for a party for 50, also good for couples and families.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 19, 2012

I have been very happy to eat here with my wife and family. The food is delicious and the staff and service very good. On the strength of this we arranged a party for 50 people and it was excellent.

We had a 3 course buffet of dishes we had selected. The food was from their usual Sunday lunch buffet menu and was very good. On the night there were many compliments from the guests and not a single complaint.

Staff and management were very helpful planning and on the night. We had the place to ourselves on a Tuesday evening, when they would otherwise be closed.

An adjacent large car park (free after 6pm) is a significant bonus.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank E H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Mem-Saab also viewed

 
Kempston, Bedford
 
Clapham, Bedford
 

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing