My husband and I used to go to The Spice Shop quite often; the food was to our liking and the service, while not spectacular, was fine. Today was different.
We had a reservation, and to their credit, they kept a table for us. Unfortunately, after we sat down, we realized that the table had a layer of black grime on it. We understand that it’s windy and that the draughts sometimes blow dust in; hell, we live here! When we asked if they would mind cleaning our table the first time, the “senior” waitress (whose English seemed non-existent) gave us some moist towelettes. Then, seeing our puzzled looks, she sent over the English-speaking waitress, who barked at us, stating that they couldn’t help it! It was windy outside! This happens to everyone! We assured her that we weren’t upset, but would she mind cleaning our table? She did (a half-assed job, missing several spots) and proceeded to wash two other, recently vacated tables, while the senior waitress dutifully avoided our eyes (we were ready to order) and watched the other waitress haughtily, but didn’t lift a finger herself.
We ordered our food, and when it arrived, the drinks had no ice, though we had requested it. They rectified this, no problem. The weird thing is, our food tasted different. In the past, I’ve enjoyed eating there because their food manages to be flavourful without being overly spicy. This time, however, chillies must have been on special, because the butter chicken was really spicy, as were the kuchumber and palak paneer. We tried to eat and found that we couldn’t eat the butter chicken; maybe it wasn’t actually butter chicken, we thought. We didn’t remember it having so many herbs and chilies, and it used to have a small dollop of cream on top.
When we tried to get the senior waitress’s eye, she again ignored us. The English-speaking waitress came over when we caught her eye. We told her that the dishes were really spicy today, especially the butter chicken. We also asked if it actually WAS butter chicken, as we’ve always had it served with cream on top. She insisted that even though there was no cream, it was NOT too spicy. We were wrong. We should taste it again. No, we insisted, it was definitely too spicy. By this time, she’d clearly had enough of us. She reiterated that there was nothing wrong and that it contained no chilies or spices whatsoever (WTF?!), but they’d redo it anyway, and she snootily flounced back to the kitchen. Upon her return, she reiterated that everyone in the kitchen had tasted it, and they said it wasn’t spicy! The boss had cooked it himself! We politely thanked her for the new order (which was less spicy and had cream slathered very conspicuously all over the top) and she stomped off again.
Awhile later, she came to ask us if we wanted take-away. We said sure and she took the food away. Meanwhile, other diners had received the customary toothpicks and aniseed that comes at the end of the meal. Fifteen minutes later, nothing had come. My husband was looking frustrated and like he seriously wanted to say something, but handled himself admirably. I went to the ladies’ room, and upon my return, the stuff was on the table. When my husband went up to pay, the English-speaking waitress shoved the bill-clipboard thingy in his face and tapped the total. He gave her the money, and she SLAMMED the change onto the counter! (NOT hearsay; I saw and heard it myself!)
Before lunch, we’d seen a great movie and had an excellent time together, but lunch at the Spice Shop (which should have been a romantic, fun thing leading to other fun things) left us drained and exhausted; we wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of there and into the safe, polite haven we call “home”. I seriously doubt whether I will EVER set foot in there again. Based on the attitudes we got, there didn’t seem to be much point in complaining. Bummer; it used to be one of my favourite places.