DREADFUL! I visited The Salty Dog for a Sunday lunchtime drink yesterday with my wife and another couple. The comfortable Lounge Bar was closed until 5.00pm for some reason and we had to go to the "Sports Bar" which is a flash term for "Public Bar". Two beers, a glass of white and a child's sized glass of Coke mixed at the tap cost $28.00 which was hefty since we weren't in downtown Auckland in a buzzing bar overlooking the Viaduct Harbour.
The blackboard "Special" lunch menu sounded tempting - Roast Lamb or Ham with a selection of vegetables. The ham was acceptable. Unfortunately my wife and I went for the roast lamb which arrived at the table attractively piled as high as possible on a base of vegetable pieces in what transpired to be a revolting column of inedible fat.
I have never before seen so much fat and I am being careful not to exaggerate in the slightest. I conservatively estimate that over 90% of the "roast lamb" was pure fat. It was disgusting. My wife fared slightly better and perhaps her fat to edible meat ratio was 80%.
I picked out the edible bits as a skilled surgeon might, ate the tepid veges and returned to the bar to register my dissatisfaction with the absurdly excessive fat content of my roast lunch. Yes, I should have complained earlier but I was unaware of just how much fat there was until I'd picked my way down the column. The circular slabs of fat took up almost half of the surface area of the large dinner plate. It looked, and was, awful.
There were only two staff on duty - a pleasant young drinks waitress in her early 20's and a man in his late 30's who mentioned in casual conversation that he came from Fiji. That's irrelevant apart from the fact that it identifies the person with whom I attempted to discuss my discontent.
I pointed out to both staff that the roast lamb turned out to be total fat and I showed them the large quantity of it on the plate. Both looked indifferent and dismissive and the man said, "Lamb is a fatty meat". I acknowledged that it was indeed a fatty meat but not to the extent that it was on my plate. I've eaten plenty of lean lamb. I asked to see the chef. The man took the plate off out of sight, presumably to the kitchen. He returned minus the plate and minus the chef. He said that he had shown the plate to the chef - who I never did get to meet or talk to in person. I suspect he or she was too embarrassed to show their face. The upshot was that the man undertook to pass on my comments to their supplier. That was worse than useless to me.
I asked to see the Manager. The Fijian man said that he was the Manager. He said that their meat supplier was responsible for the fatty piece of lamb since it was the supplier who had rolled it up. His chef had merely roasted it and didn't know what the roll was like inside. He was unprepared to accept that responsibility passed to his establishment and his chef once the meat was roasted, carved and piled into a column on the plate. I pointed out that, at the carving and serving stage, the chef should have been wholly aware that he or she was serving up almost pure fat which should never ever have been passed on to a customer. The man said that there was nothing he could do apart from telling his supplier. I told him that my wife's roast lamb was also an awful helping of fat. I actually said, "bloody awful". He shrugged and clearly didn't give two hoots.
I told him that a refund would be appropriate under the circumstances. He said he couldn't do that because lamb was a fatty meat. He offered me a free drink instead. I declined that. He shrugged and walked off. I returned to my table wondering quite what I could do for the best. In the circumstances it was difficult. I have never before encountered such unhelpfulness from a restaurant manager although I concede that I have never before had such a terrible meal. It ruined our day out at Snells Beach & Algies Bay, not that paying $33.00 for inedible fat can ever be pleasing.
The manager walked past our table as we were finishing our drinks. I stopped him and asked, "Are you going to do anything about all this or not because I'm really not happy?". He again relied on his pathetic explanation that lamb was a fatty meat. He returned a few minutes later, placed $13 cash on the table as he walked by without stopping for one moment or commenting at all. I have never, ever experienced such shockingly poor food or customer service.
My wife, friends and I will never visit that place again. Once bitten, twice shy. We will never forget the worst ever Sunday roast or the manager's indifference and absence of concern. How I wish we'd had fresh fish & chips at a third of the price at a great little place just 200 metres away. I try not to make mistakes but on this occasion I failed miserably by stepping inside The Salty Dog, having a drink and ordering some lunch. Marks out of ten for food and customer service - zero. This was undoubtedly my worst eating out experience of all time. That's a strong statement but I truly cannot remember anything being as bad as this.
The Salty Dog's website claims and I quote, "Our team of chef’s spend a lot of time on our menus, wanting to achieve affordable dining, but most importantly they strive to keep it real. To this end, all of our meals are made on site with the freshest ingredients".
I'm afraid that no amount of striving to keep it real, whatever that means, will make a plate full of real fat palatable to anyone.