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Monday, 24 June 2013

Worst Italian Restaurant Ever

Firstly, let's bring a bit of context into this blog review about a restaurant which had once been one of the 'oldest' and most respectable Italian restaurants in the West Perth neighbourhood, Villa D'Este. I do recall dinning here more than a decade ago and loving the food and service. Sadly, this time around ... nothing lived up to expectations - except maybe the Chianti Classico. But then, since I had very little to eat, this would be all relative.

Additional context, I am a self-claimed foodie and I am particular about my food. I eat out quite a lot and have tried restaurants from street side stalls to high end Michelin starred restaurants here and overseas.

Short summary:
Food: 1 out of 5 stars
Service: 0 out of 5 stars
Ambience: 3 out of 5 stars (this is if you exclude food and service, I'm only counting the decor & lighting).

Full neko paws DOWN on this restaurant. Don't go there!

Let me set the scene. This is to for a family dinner to celebrate my mother's birthday. The booking was via Dimmi using their 'point redemption' for the booking and a voucher of $50 which is applied without having to present a voucher. Clearly stated on the booking that it's her birthday. I received a booking confirmation call at 9:43am WST to confirm. I was in a meeting and called them back to confirm details for 3 at 7pm.

Arrive 10 minutes before booking and was led to the table by, we shall call him Waiter A. Waiter A asked if we would like sparkling water, I translated for my parents and we agreed on sparkling. This was brought to the table and poured. Waiter B brought 'appetiser, compliments of the chef'. Ritz biscuit sized pizza with 1 slice of parma/pepperoni like meat and cheese with what could have been tomato puree or a small bit of sun-dried (benefit of the doubt) x 3. Another waiter came by to tell us the specials, he had a strong 'Italian' accent and in most cases I find accents quite reassuringly authentic in the relevant restaurant environment. He gave us the specials, my mom was delighted with the option of being able to have twice cooked duck and my dad opted for the Carpretto (baby goat) - a dish which we have had before at Siderno and he had loved it. He went away to give us a few more minutes to decided.

After a while of waiting, while we saw waiters come and go. I next got hold of Waiter A to order, but he said I would have to wait for the maitre d' to order as he only dealt with drinks. I asked for his recommendation for a rounded Italian wine, he suggested the Chianti Classico 2009. We agreed to order this and our mains. We waited for a while - wine was served before MD came over to our table to take our order.

Here's what we ordered:
Peppoli Chianti Classico - upon recommendation by Waiter A $66.00

1/2 dozen Oysters (Baked with mushroom and Italian sausage) $28.00
Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms with balsamic reduction (3 on plate) $31.80
A soup of the day - Cream of Asparagus $16.00

Twice Cooked duck with Port Wine sauce $48.90
Carpretto with polenta 'slice/cake' $48.80
Beef cheeks with polenta 'slice/cake' $44.80
Crusty Italian Bread $4.50, we asked for 1 serve *($1.50 per serve, it was not stated on menu it was "per person")
Spinach salad with tomatoes, olives and olive oil and balsamic dressing and parmesan $11.80

The bread came and was surprising to us a basket of several (8+) pieces of large chunky Italian bread. Since dad loves this type of bread we were fine with it, not realizing they had given us 3 serves. The oysters arrived 'au natural', I pointed out the mistake and the waiter gave me a look. He later came back to say it would take a few minutes to cook. I was fine with this. The mushrooms were fine, the stuffing was actually 'stuffing' there's sausage flavour, but I could not actually bite into any. The soup was very green and watery with dried parsley sprinkled on. We all tasted it and agreed it was not edible and was extremely salty. You could not taste the natural freshness of asparagus which I love. The Waiter B took away the soup and asked if we wished for the other soup of the day as replacement, I agreed - it was a Italian Vegetable soup (not minestrone) just a soup less green and with pieces vegetables.

We waited for quite a while - so much so that Waiter A came and with Waiter C cleared our entree plates and cutlery. I had to stop them and state we have not been served our other entrees - they cleared the plates any way and was going to bring new ones.

I had a small sip of the 2nd soup and found it still salty, and was informed by my parents it was still too salty but they were not willing to embarass themselves or the restaurant to sent it back. From this point on, no one came by to check how we were doing or to even re-fill our water or wine glasses.

Plates cleared we eagerly awaited mains thinking this would rescue the meal. The mains came quite quickly and was plonked down "across" the table by Waiter B to my mother. Reaching across me diagonally across. All this time serving was done by each wait staff from the side, he just didn't bother to walk over to my mother. I had two bites of the beef cheek and realized I couldn't taste the meat and only the salt. The texture was fine but the whole thing tasted like salt cured. The sauce was just as strong. I tried dad's carpretto and it was the same - the nice goat flavour was gone. The fine texture of the meat was there ... but if you finished the dish you would end up drinking litres of water after to re-hydrate. Mom's duck was saved by the sweetness of the port. You could taste the heavy salt, but the sugary port sauce covered it and helped balance it. We put aside the two main dishes. Mom and dad shared the duck with bread and the salad.

Finally got hold of Waiter B and I told him to take the mains away as they were too salty for us to eat and stated I didn't want them any more when he looked at me with an annoyed expression. (This may have been his expression for not understanding why). He stated that they served the same here all the time and no-one has found a problem with it.

After a long wait and my parents finishing their shared dish. Waiter A eventually came with two container boxes labled with our main meals. I was very angry and stated that we had returned the dishes to the kitchen as they were inedible and was too salty. He said I should be upset with him as he only did drinks and clear tables. I asked to speak to the manager or the maitre d'.

15-20 minutes later, no one had come by our table again. I asked for the bill. Waited another 15 minutes and was provided a FULL bill for everything that was presented to us, inclusive of the mains. I went to the front counter to speak with the manager as he had deemed it not necessary to come see his customers. No apologies and no questions about how was your meal before he launched into a rant about how I had upset his chef and insulted him and none of his food was salty. He claimed to have tasted all the dishes I returned and said they were fine and all other customers were fine with their food, so my taste must be bad and that I could not take salt at all. He also walked away from me whenever I was stating my case about the food being not palatable at all and defending my taste buds.

I was extremely polite in pointing out that my table considered the food too salty and if he did not think there was a problem why did he replace our soup? And if he had taste tested the returned food, why did he allow them to be packed into take away containers and returned to our table? He claimed this was a misunderstanding and that Waiter B did not understand I meant to 'return' the food. If that was the case, why did Waiter B tell me that no-one else had thought the food too salty to eat?

When I asked about the Dimmi discount, he said I had to present a voucher - which is not the case. When I stated that it was with the booking and he damn well knew it. Finally I was at my wits end, I asked he again if he was going to put the discount through or not. When he did, he asked the Waiter C to double check all the details and proceeded to take my credit card for payment without showing me the bill.

I've tried Galileo, Siderno and a number of the best rated Italian restaurants in the business. None of their dishes have ever been salty enough for me to send back to the kitchen.

If I pay $50 for mains, I want my waiter to at least "smile" at me. I don't care if it's false, it's your damn job to smile at customers.

Villa D'Este Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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