Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Greek Tragedy

The sight of a new restaurant popping up always brings a certain amount of excitement to our house. Finsbury Park is already a culinary melting pot with cuisine from various parts of the globe; Caribbean, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, Columbian, Thai, good ol' fish and chips and even an Ethiopian which we're yet to try. As yesterday was pay day, I thought I'd treat us to a takeaway from the new Greek place down the road. We spent ages poring over the menu, in stitches over the ridiculous typos and descriptions. Some of the menu gaffes were as follows:

Green Olives Special crack, tsakkistes
Lamb Kleftiko Slow cooked beef in the oven
Dolmades Vine leaves staffed with mince pork
Tavas Traditional Cyprus dish consisted of meat cubes, chopped potatoes, onionomatoes, and onions

We thought we'd phone ahead and order but after finding the number constantly engaged for more than fifteen minutes (I joked that one of the chefs would be on the phone to one of their relatives in Greece), I decided to walk down there myself. The first thing I noticed as I walked into the restaurant was that it was empty, bar one table which I realised was occupied by the staff. When I mentioned the phone being engaged, guilty looks were exchanged - turns out I was right after all. I ordered Lamb Kleftiko with roast potatoes for Mike and Lamb Souvla for me which they didn't have, so I had to settle for Lamb Cutlets instead. They told me it would take half an hour which made me wonder who long it would take if the restaurant was busy.


I went back half an hour later to find the restarant still empty of customers, while all five staff attended to our food. I got home and left Mike to open the boxes of food while I washed my hands. I heard a loud gasp coming from the kitchen so I shouted "what's it like?" Silence. I shouted the same question again to which Mike replied "Oh my God". I hurried to the kitchen where two polystyrene boxes lay open containing something which was supposed to be food. Mine was three scraggy bits of lamb with a few soggy chips and Mike's was two scraggy bits of lamb with four boiled potatoes. I'd paid £14.50 for this!? I immediately put my coat back on and trudged back to the restaurant a third time while Mike went to get pizza. I refused to let him come with me, my track record of receiving refunds about 100% so I was feeling confident.

What happened next was a bit of a blur. To put it mildly, my request for a refund did not go down well. When I told them that the potatoes were not roasted but boiled, it went down even less well. Arguments ensued, insults exchanged. "Are you a chef?" one of them asked me. "Are you Greek?". I certainly am neither, but could give their overpriced tat a run for it's money. At one point, the 'chef' threatened to call the police and screamed "I been a chef for twelve years" as she hysterically punched random numbers into the phone. I phoned Mike to tell him what was going on and when I'd finished speaking to him one of them asked me "Who sent you?". I didn't know what to say to this ridiculous question. I told them I wasn't surprised that their restaurant was empty on a Friday night and that this was no way to treat a customer. I left with a bruised ego and an empty wallet. Mike spotted the steam coming out of my ears down the end of road before he saw me. I threatened to take the 'roast potato' to Trading Standards.

Do those potatoes look roasted to you?

The next day is a different story - I've learnt my lesson. I should have recognised that the poor attention to detail on the menu would extend itself to the food. If a restaurant can't be bothered to make an effort with the minor details then they just can't be bothered. I've realised that their hysterical reaction was because they knew they were a sinking ship. Looking back, the whole episode was actually quite funny and I can console myself with the fact that in a few months time, the "Greek Restaurant" sign will probably be replaced with a "To Let".

Romios Magirion - 21 Crouch Hill, London N4 4AP
Rating: 0/10

19 comments:

ems said...

I started off jealous that you could order a take away from a Greek restaurant - we have a choice of Chinese, Indian, Chinese..., but ended up cringing and laughing. (Sorry). That food does not look appetising. Let the countdown to closure begin!

Red said...

That looks nasty, ACT, and I hope your pizza was a damn sight more appetizing...

But I admire your guts for going down the restaurant and giving them a piece of your mind.

Wuching said...

OMG! thats not even call food!

Travel Italy said...

I think the problem of quantity over quality has expanded even into the smaller places, unfortunately. You are right to look at the quality of the visible material. It says something about their attention to detail.

a.c.t said...

Hi Ems, you have every right to laugh - it was a ridiculous thing to happen. I'm going to walk past that place every day and sneer until it closes.
Red, the pizza was delicious - broccoli and salsiccia which I'd never tried before. If it ever happens again (which I hope it doesn't) I'll still take the food back - I just hope I don't encounter psychos next time!
Wuchung, that definitely should not be called food.
Travel - absolutely right. Next time I'll know better.

* (asterisk) said...

My God, my girl, that is some appalling-looking food. I'd advise you steer clear of any establishment that hasn't yet grasped that the London STD code is 020 and that the 7 or 8 is actually part of the next set of numbers. For me, that's a dead giveaway. Oh yeah, that and the fact that they serve onionomatoes. Good for you, but it's a shame you didn't manage to get your richly deserved refund.

The Phantom said...

A.C.T., you have the soul of a true blogger - taking photos of cold kleftico can be dangerous to the appetite!
Glad to read that Mike is still around. Maybe you can get him blogging again?

the cappuccino kid. said...

you say thats supposed to be lamb?
where exactly on a sheep does that come from? eeeuuwww!

a.c.t said...

*(asterisk), I hadn't even noticed that with the phone number. I've seen that a lot.
Phantom, nice to see you around. If you have a look at the 'Arsenal-Land' link on the right (if you dare, Tottenham fan that you are), you'll see what he's been up to of late.
Cap Kid - I'm not exactly sure but probably somewhere near the rear end.

Susan in Italy said...

Good god! At the beginniing of your story, I was planning to comment about how Greek food in Greece is usually a lot better than elsewhere (the veggies rock there!) But by the end, actually their total lack of respect reminds me a little of the aggressive attitude of some of the small business people here in Milan. Before moving here, I have had the nerve to take food back but now...not so much. Anyway, I've never had bad Ethiopian, why not give them a try?

Martha Elaine Belden said...

wow... yuck...

but i have to admit, i was cracking up when they yelled "who sent you?" hahaha

Lotus Reads said...

Love the subject header of your post - it's perfect! :)

As Susan suggested, give Ethiopian food a try. We have a really nice restaurant here in Toronto called "Addis Ababa" and our favorite dish to order there is called "Doro Wat" - it's chicken marinated in a red pepper sauce and then garnished with a hard boiled egg. Another favorite is, "Kifto" -minced beef again topped with a hot pepper sauce with collard greens and home-made cheese on the side. They have really nice vegetarian dishes, too. Caution: The pepper sauce can be quite hot, so if you don't like feeling as if your tongue's on fire, go with the milder dishes. Good luck! :)

a.c.t said...

Thanks for the tip Lotus. I've also asked Susan for any recommendations. I will definitely go soon as it's only 10 mins away from my house. Hope it's more successful than the Greek :-)

Tracie B. said...

YOUR roast and taters looked SO much better.

Rehan Qayoom said...

On both Methodist and C of E billboards
once divided in their fight for local souls.
Whichever house more truly was the Lord's
both's pews are filled with cut-price toilet rolls.
(Tony Harrison).

Lea said...

Where can I find an inionomato??

Paz & Eva said...

Hi A.C.T, I m sorry that one of my contry-men has disrespected our food! Such a shame Tavas and Kleftiko sould be a culinary joy not a pain in the neck and (hopefully you didnt) stomach. I will go there tonight to try there food and in fact I am greek and I am a chef so they have will have no leg to stand on. Tavas should be lamb cooked with tomato potato, onion cumin and ground corriander. While Kleftiko should be rather fatty pieces of lamb cooked for at least 4-5 hours in a sealed clay oven or pot - unfortunately the "roast potatoes" in this case will look anemic but have been cooked with the meat absorbing the flavor and, so long as you use waxy variants, remaining suprisingly firm. - Hey if you really want to try some good greek (cypriot) food Try - (1) Paneri restaurant on the High Street in Wood Green or (2) "Ta Dilina" restaurant on Junction Road. Failing all else I will cook some of the classics for you !

Anonymous said...

I am Greek Cypriot and the photo with the potatoes and meat looks fine to me. The person who wrote this article is probably not familiar with Greek Cypriot food. Those potatoes are roasted (not boiled) on low temperature for several hours so they can be really soft. I am afraid that you made much fuss about nothing. The meat looks really soft and tender as well. That's how it should be traditionally.

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