Going hungry for $150

Dear Editor,

So, it seemed simple enough. Dinner out with my wife and a couple of friends. What can possibly go wrong? The name of the restaurant is Mandarin, located in Port de Plaisance. We were looking for someplace quiet and with airco and Mandarin seemed to fit the bill. I am a pretty plain eater but my wife and friends like variety and the "Pan Asian" menu seemed to appeal to them and there was a Ribeye on there for me so, once again, on paper everything seemed wonderful. Right up until the food showed up after about a 40-minute wait.

Four meals. Two barely acceptable and the other two direct throw-aways. My $40 Rib Eye which I expected to be a nice 16 oz grilled steak turned out to be 3 slices of some mystery meat so thin (less than 3mm each) you could read a newspaper through them; they were either boiled or micro waved into tasteless cardboard. My rice side dish could have been used very well as an epoxy tile adhesive and the vegies were both raw and had been marinated in garlic since, perhaps, 1975. And everything was ice cold.

My wife's salad wasn't anything like she ordered, apparently and was inedible as well. The other couple ate their soups but without comment or any noticeable enjoyment. In my case it was obvious what had happened. They went to get my steak only to discover they didn't have one to sell so they took the cheap sliced meat that they use for their wok dishes and shazamm like magic, that became my 40$ RibEye. I have no idea why something as simple as rice could be as bad as they made it. I mean really...even I can cook rice and the raw cold vegies in a garlic bath?

I didn't press the issue. We were already there for an hour and I just figured that if they couldn't get anything at all right the first time around, then the second wasn't likely to be any better. So, in the end I just paid the $150 for four and chalked it as a validation of my philosophy of not eating in places I don't know about.

But wait, there's more. Just when you think you have seen it all, after the no-meal meal, we ordered cafe/latte . Now you wonder how hard that could be to get four cups of coffee. Well apparently "cafe latte" is some alien unknown because what resulted from that order was a 20-minute argument between our waitress and the bartender who either didn't know how to run the coffee machine or didn't know what a cafe latte was. What arrived at the table after a while were 3 different coffees for four people. Oh well.

All I can say is that was my experience there. Perhaps, and without exaggeration, the single worst restaurant experience I have ever had in my life as far as the food went. Maybe everything else they serve is wonderful. I have no idea and not likely to find out either. On the other hand I figure they would do better if they re-branded the place as a weight loss clinic because it is far more likely you will leave as hungry as you were when you arrived.

Oh, and to add insult to injury there was some big service charge on the check as well. There was an upside however. My dogs really liked the cardboard steak but even they wouldn't eat the garlic vegies.

Steven Johnson

The Daily Herald

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