This is my 3rd review in the past 4 years, since that is all I can afford to eat here. From the last time (a little over 2 years ago), the prices have gone up another 30 - 40%. I never step into a 5 star hotel for a meal since it is total insanity to pay those kind of prices for mediocre food and haughty, snobbish service, the whole place smacking of snootiness. Bukhara is the only exception I make. The food is just awesome, and I am a hardcore vegetarian. Every once in a while, I indulge, and overlook all the other nonsense and gimmicks and hype that comes with it.
It starts with calling to make a reservation. You are always told (no matter how far in advance you call) that the tables are all booked up to 8pm, and thereafter it is first come first seated. This policy also changes every once in while. In any case, if you arrive any time between 7pm and 9pm, the restaurant will be at best half full with many empty tables. Yet, you will be asked to wait!
I discovered the platter long time ago. The waiter will never tell you about it. Now they have something called the Chelsea platter to accompany the Bill Clinton platter, priced at an astronomical Rs. 5500 ++++++ for 2! You cannot just order the veg platter (full or half) any more without the accompaniments.
Service at Bukhara has always been its Achilles Heel. The waiters are all trained to be as mercenary as their management, and sell as much as possible. So, for example, if my guest was a firang, the waiter could not accept the fact that I was ordering veg for both. He insisted on rattling off all the dead animals that were available for consumption. Also, a firang couple sitting at the next table were hopelessly lost with the menu and what to order. There was a huge communication problem between the waiters (3 of them) and the couple. The waiters insisted on ordering what they thought the couple should eat, instead of explaining each item properly and carefully. In the end, I had to intervene and help the couple much to the chagrin of the waiters.
The atmosphere here is definitely not fine dining. It is a dhaba in a 5 star hotel with 7 star prices. This place like others of its ilk rest mainly on a certain hype. If the hype ever bursts, it will be downhill all the way. Bill and Chelsea Clinton cannot keep this place going for too long. YC Deveshwar, Nakul Anand, Dipak Haksar, Madhu Krishnan and other honchos at ITC need to wake up from their mercenary slumber before it is too late. They can start by getting rid of all the aging waiters, and bringing in a fresh crew. Nothing is worth Rs.7,000 for a meal for 2, not even food so good! And of course, the icing on the cake is the bold "Service Charges not included in the bill" staring at you when you are presented with the bill!
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