Fawlty Chinese

Last Saturday night we had a concert to go to with a bunch of friends we went to school with.  Six of us decided it would be a good idea to meet up for dinner before the concert.  Suggestions were called upon for where we should dine.  And here’s the unfortunate part.  I enthusiastically said I knew of a Chinese restaurant not far from the venue that I had once been to and it was excellent.  It was a decade ago.  A lot can go wrong in a decade.

A night of 80's bands

A night of 80’s bands

I think that is the last time I will ever make a recommendation because to be sure, I am going to be reminded of ‘remember that time’ for a long time to come.

Rose Tattoo

Rose Tattoo

Timbo made the reservation but as we ascended the crowded staircase he said he wasn’t sure if they’d taken his name down correctly so we should say ‘Mark’ as well as ‘Larke’.  I told the waiter Mark Larke was here for his booking and that triggered some recognition so we were shown to our table.

It was a table so large it would have fitted a dozen or more so we scrunched ourselves onto one side so we could feel like we were dining together; me stepping over a puddle of something on the floor in the process.

Loving it

Loving it

The restaurant was noisy and crowded, in fact packed to the rafters with more and more people ascending the stairs and with or without a booking, all were being shown to tables which surprised me, given there didn’t seem to be a large number of waiters.

Menus arrived and because we were on a tight schedule we decided it would be quickest and easiest to just order from the banquet section.  We selected one of the banquet menus that included a glass of house wine so when we hailed down the waiter we ordered the banquet menu for six with five house merlots and one house chardonnay plus water all round.

We had great seats

We had great seats

Off he disappeared.  Ten minutes later he returned saying we were not allowed to order the banquet menu.  ‘Why is that?’ Matt asked.  ‘Because we don’t start that menu until next week’.

‘Even though it’s on the menu and even though everything in the banquet is on the menu?’ I asked.  And he nodded before quickly darting away.  Continuing to aim to keep it simple we revisiting the menu and chose one dish each and tried in ernest to attract the attention of a waiter so he could take down our order.  Mission accomplished (with some challenges) we then reminded him that we were still waiting on our drinks and could he bring the water.

Rock and roll

Rock and roll

The minutes ticked by.  Then I saw the people at the next table who looked very hungry demand to see the manager.  There were angry words spoken then off he scuttled.  I said to Timbo, ‘This isn’t looking good’.  He said, ‘It’s Chinese; they’re always very quick.  Our food will be here in no time’.  I said, ‘You’re very optimistic’.

I was started to feel uneasy because of the chandeliers.  I couldn’t imagine why anyone would cover them in orange plastic.



Then the wine glasses arrived.  Mel, who ordered the chardonnay, had hers brought to her in a red wine glass.  The glass given to me was the size of a thimble.  Three glasses were so drenched we had to shake the water off them.  Six wine glasses and no two the same.  I was starting to feel really uneasy.

A variety pack

A variety pack

After another 15 minutes had lapsed with plenty of food arriving at the table where there’d been the altercation but no food landing on our table, I grabbed a speeding waiter and said, ‘Excuse me, we ordered quite some time ago; do you mind checking in the kitchen as to what’s happened to our order?’  But there was no reply because he barely paused long enough to listen to what I was saying.

So then Matt went off to find the manager.  He came back full of confidence saying all was well and the food was about to arrive.  ‘What about the water?’ I asked.



Then a waiter rushed over with the only entree we ordered, sung choi bao.  We sat back expecting the waiter to serve it for us but it was slapped down on the table and at lightening speed he took off leaving us stunned.  Recovering, we served ourselves.  It was bland, colourless and lacking in texture.

Next the crispy skin chicken with ginger and shallots arrived.  I tried to ask the waiter for the rice we ordered but these waiters were like slippery eels and as soon the food was on the table, they vanished.  I found another waiter and asked for some rice, ‘And it doesn’t have to be the fried rice we ordered, a bowl of boiled rice will be fine and if we could have some water…’, I yelled after him as he flew past.



Then a satay chicken dish arrived.  It was lovely to see some food, it’s just we didn’t order any satay chicken.  We grabbed a waiter and told him and said we ordered satay beef and could he find out what had happened to it.

Then the bill arrived.  We all looked stunned as we had only seen two of six dishes, were still waiting for the water and hadn’t yet sighted a grain of rice.  Timbo said, ‘They’re very prompt with the bill’, and then he looked at it and saw there were only our drinks on the bill.  Hailing down a waiter we asked why we had been given the bill and no food.  He said, ‘That’s all you order’.

‘No’, we said, ‘we didn’t just order a glass of wine, we ordered food to go with it.  Can you please bring the food’.  And without a word off he went.

Rose Tattoo

Rose Tattoo

Then the waiter who took down our order approached and said they could no longer bring any of the food we ordered.  They were too busy, they would be bringing no food and we needed to pay for our drinks’.  We’d been there 50 minutes.  Recalling how well things went for the other table, I said, ‘Could you get the manager?’ and away he scuttled like Manuel in Fawlty Towers.  (Actually all the waiters reminded me of Manuel).

The manager arrived and I started to say something but he cut me off and said all the dishes we ordered had come out of the kitchen it’s just they had gone to other tables and that the kitchen was too busy but if we wanted we could re-order or we could just pay for our drinks and leave.  I’d exhausted all patience.  I said, ‘I was speaking.  We have been here nearly 60 minutes and in that time we haven’t seen a drop of water or a grain of rice.  We’re leaving’.

Ever so hungry, we arrive at the concert

Ever so hungry, we arrive at the concert

And with that it was off to the concert where we’d already missed the opening act.  Minor dramas ensued with people sitting in our seats and once we got that sorted all was good.  Until later in the evening when two burly security guards started dragging a neanderthal up the aisle, wiping out a chap getting carried away with his dancing who crashed into my husband and we all went down like a stack of dominos.

All in all, a great night out.10153907_10153268868693502_1097531874677672680_n



  1. It’s nights like this that make you wish you’d just stayed home and had a toasted sandwich in front of the telly, isn’t it?

  2. Those nights at least make good stories. The faulty towers restaurants are the ones you remember most.

  3. Ten years is a long time to carry a reputation good enough for you. I don’t think I want to eat at that place or even wait around for nothing at that place.

    Hope the concert was good!

  4. I agree with a earlier comment. Definitely a night that should have been spent at home in front of the telly with a delivery pizza and a glass of red wine.

  5. Weren’t you tempted to grab a kebab on the way home 🙂

  6. A heck of a lot can go wrong in a decade. Maybe they might have understood better if you proceeded to order a pizza in the Chinese resturant from the restaurant next door whilst you sat and waited for your bad food. LOL…Glad you enjoyed the concert, that made up for it.

  7. Oh dear. I saw the title and was almost to scared to click, Charlie.. 🙂 We had really shocking service at a Chinese restaurant recently – so much so that my mother staged a walk out. It takes a lot for her to be pushed that hard!

  8. LOL…it was definitely memorable!!! Hope the concert made up for the lousy dinner 🙂

  9. Oh no Charlie! What an ordeal! One wonders why the restaurant is still open.
    Have a happy week ahead.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  10. Just like the good old days, hey! Am sure you will look back and laugh. Sylvia loves scuttling at the moment so perhaps she could get a job in this Chinese restaurant (actually she doesn’t take orders either so she would be perfect)

  11. I’m speechless. Nearly. What a horrible night out.

  12. LOL – Charlie – y’all are sure to remember this night 10 years down the road 😉
    I hope the music made up for the Chinese and the human domino incident at the end of the night!

  13. Hi Charlie, sounds like you guys will be talking about this night for a long time, what a crazy night!

  14. I saw the title and thought “Oh dear, here we go again!” It sounds like a terrible experience. Not a lot of Chinese restaurants (in general) are known for service or wine service but to not get a thing is terrible.

  15. Oh gosh. What a dining experience. Memorable in all the wrong ways! At least you got a good story from it 😉

  16. Oh, I was there with you Charlie – keep thinking it must get better and it doesn’t! You wonder how they can keep the doors open!

  17. What an awfully crazy night, this one will make for some story a long way down the track at least!

    Choc Chip Uru

  18. Wow! What shocking service. I would fire that manager if I owned that restaurant. I would have been grumpy if I left hungry. At least the concert was a fun time!

  19. AHHHHHHHHHHH, SO FUN w/ the girls!!
    The 80s ROCKKKKKKKKKKKK my socks off. xxx

  20. I too wonder how could the restaurant stay in business? What a horrible experience, one that will be remember for a long, long time.

  21. i have to agree. a lot can change in a decade, i had a similar experience recently, the son took over the business and food just wasnt the same

  22. Oh Charlie you find the best restaurants! At least you had a good time in the end although I bet you were starving!

  23. Oh dear. You must be due for a successful night out now, just to get back on your horse, so to speak.

  24. Oh gosh, what a disaster! On Saturday we tried a new Chinese place I had noticed because it advertised regional cuisine (an area I didn’t even really know of), which is a rarity on this side of the world. On trip advisor it had few but all in all good reviews, the kind that says: this is where Chinese students go to eat authentic food. Simple but good homecooked food, family run… well, you get the gist. We went there with another couple (so among all of us, 4 kids between ages 2 and 8). All in all, the food was really good and different from the Westernized fare we often get. The problem was that there was just one girl cooking everything from scratch (thank goodness there were only two other tables occupied and that it was a small place) and her brother, who spoke no Italian or English, taking orders. It took us almost three hours to eat our meal (kids going crazy in the meanwhile), AND we cancelled the last two dishes. Plus, they finished their boiled white rice halfway through (that was a first!!!) and half of the cool things on the menu were not available.

  25. What a nasty experience. You should definitely write it up on Yelp. Years ago JT and I would find a lovely spot and before we invited anyone, we would go there a few times and it was great! Then we’d invite friends or parents and it would suck! Big time suck, like forgetting someone’s order! It was uncanny how many times this happened when we were first married.

  26. At least you’ll be able to laugh about this at your future get-togethers Charlie! I wouldn’t have even paid for the drinks when I walked out. We used to go to a place in Queensland called Vesuvius, strictly for the fun of the appalling service. They tried so hard, but we saw everything from drinks spilled on customers to one being set on fire by the waiter lighting a candle. The food was so-so, but it was certainly dinner with a show 🙂 xox

  27. I have never heard of such awful service. How horrible! I would have been so upset at that point. Glad you didn’t miss the main show that night. Hopefully the concert made up for the bad dining experience.

  28. Oh my gosh, Charlie, this whole evening could be a Fawlty Towers episode! How this particular restaurant could ever stay in business is a mystery, unless everyone who comes is recalling a positive experience from an entirely different decade! And then the concert had its major hiccups. Well, as I say more and more often, it’s all about the memories, and you and your friends have a story that will bond you evern closer! You need to plan a night and stay in! 🙂

  29. Oh mu God, I’m still trying to work out if you enjoyed it. That is so bad re the restaurant. and I hope you are not too sore after being bowled over.

  30. Oh I have missed your blogs, have a night of reading ahead to catch up – well I am sure it will be a night you won’t forget in a hurry lol

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