Friday, December 26, 2008

Beijing Restaurant Edmonton - Tell All Your Friends Never to Eat There

I rarely blog a scathing restaurant review on this blog, reserving my comments and observations for my food blog. However, the experiences of this evening were so poor that it warranted an exception to the rule.

Beijing Chinese Restaurant, aka Beijing Beijing, a restaurant located in South Park Edmonton (Calgary Trail & 38 St.), offered the second worst dining experience of my 32 years of life. This eatery, formerly a buffet house, was recently renovated and converted into a traditional Chinese restaurant. They reopened under the same name just a few days ago, and are currently in the process of building a following in the Edmonton area. Given our inexcusably poor service this evening, I would doubt that this restaurant will be able to make a credible name for themselves in this falling economy, and with a finicky Chinese population.

After making a reservation well in advance for this Boxing Day family dinner, our party arrived tonight to discover that the restaurant had held a table for 3, rather than for the 30 of us that we had indicated on the phone.

After being seated (which they managed to do for us only because they still had tables available and we had arrived 20 minutes in advance of our maligned reservation), we ordered our food at 6:40 p.m. The "set meal" that we ordered for all 3 tables consisted of 10 savoury courses and dessert. In Chinese dining, this is a common type of meal ordered for special occasions, and normally, dinner service takes place over the course of approximately 1-2 hours, depending on how busy a restaurant is. Each dish is served in a specific sequence, and usually dishes are brought out one at a time.

This restaurant happened to be busy on this Boxing Day evening, and as a result we were prepared to be waiting for a bit, and eating for the full 2 hours. However, 1.5 hours into the meal (at approximately 8:15 p.m.), a mere 3 out of the 10 savoury dishes had been brought out to us. Attempts at grabbing the servers' attention were futile, and it seemed that the staff was deliberately avoiding us, or else they had entirely forgotten about our 3 tables situated smack in the middle of their dining room.

In the 40 minutes that followed, several unpleasant events occured, all without apology and without anyone from the restaurant taking responsibility:
- water was spilled all over the coat of one person in our party, and the jacket was completely soaked in one large area; the server seemed completely oblivious to this major spill
- the 4th dish on our menu, a crab dish, was served to several tables who had arrived after we did before we received ours; there seemed to be no order or sequence or logic involved in deciding which tables would receive their food
- our 4th dish was only received after a complaint was made to the service staff, and even then other tables outside of our party were served before we were
- the dishes were brought to us out of traditional menu order (think about getting your appetizer after finishing your entree), with the fish dish being served after the crab rather than at the end of the meal when it is usually served
- the bowl of one member of our group, which contained her as-yet-to-be-consumed food, was dumped out by a careless and inattentive server before the diner even had the opportunity to eat it
- by the time it was our turn to receive our next several dishes, the restaurant had run out of the chicken and fish that were supposed to be included in the menu; we were offered and subsequently given less-expensive, less-quality chicken and fish dishes in exchange for these, without even the courtesy of providing us a discount on the cost of the meal
- we had only received 7 of the 10 main dishes of our meal after 2 hours of waiting

Finally, affter 2.5 hours, at 9:05 p.m., we received the 10th dish of our meal.

It was at approximately 9:20 p.m. that we noticed that the restaurant had run out of our dessert, a sweet red bean soup. Servers were frantically scraping the bottom of the soup pot, which was located in front of the bar in full view of all dining patrons. One of our tables did manage to get the last remaining drops of the soup for their dessert, but our other two tables were yet again forced to wait an additional 20 minutes before the servers brought out a different sweet soup for us.

While we were waiting for our dishes to arrive, several other disconcerting things caught our attention. The ladies' bathroom was filthy, and lacked soap for patrons (and possibly the servers themselves) to use. The men's bathroom housed the closet used for the storage of extra tables; we observed servers returning several tables to the bathroom (past urinals and toilets) when they started to clean up the restaurant. We also noticed that the portions that they did finally serve us were appallingly small, and a table of 10 was left hungry and wanting at the end of the 11-course meal. The servers were also completely oblivious or inept or confused; throughout the meal they wandered around the restaurant aimlessly, seemingly uncertain as to whether or not they should actually place dishes on the table. In one instance, with the fish dish, our table was given a fish dish, the server physically walked away, and then the server came by again 20 seconds later and took the dish away, with nary an explanation for her behaviour.

As if the 3+ hour length of the service wasn't terrible enough, the restaurant was also unabashedly unapologetic for their poor attitudes, their lack of food, and the inexplicably slow service. No apology was given to our tables, and no discount offered for the meal. Even the billing was inept, as the three tables were charged separately for the meal even though it was indicated at the start of the meal that all three tables belonged to the same party and should be billed together.

Though this review is appalling, the atrociousness of this restaurant can hardly be captured in words and with these descriptions. In all of my dining experiences, I have never encountered such pathetically poor service, such mediocre food, and such arrogant attitudes toward patrons as Beijing Chinese Restaurant offered to us this evening. That not ONE of the several servers and "managers" that we spoke with all evening were sufficiently responsible or courageous enough to own up to our concerns and complaints is absolutely inexcusable. We were given no apology, and offered no plausible explanation. We were not compensated in any way for the excessive wait and the horrendous service.

Nobody of the 30 of us in our party will be returning to Beijing Restaurant. I suggest you do likewise, unless you are willing to go through a similar ordeal as what we endured tonight.


Mack D. Male said...

Sounds like an absolutely terrible experience! Thanks for posting this review. It's good to let others know to avoid the restaurant. Hope you had a good holiday anyway!

tejanamama said...

Did you guys ever ASK for compensation of some kind? I would not be able to stand all that you include here without demanding something in return for our troubles...discounted meal...SOMETHING. What a-holes!!!

~Rain``` said...

How terrible. What a sad display of incompetence, rudeness, poor service, and pathetic food.

Mrs. Loquacious said...

@Mack - You're welcome. Avoid! ;)

@Tejanamama - I would've totally asked for it if I was paying, but since it was my grandpa who was footing the bill, and he wanted to "save face," I had to stand down. Otherwise, you better believe there would've been words...loud words. ;)

@Rain - I am always surprised at how poor the service is, across the board, in Edmonton. So far, most places we've visited in Van have thankfully been far more ept and professional!