The title suggests that I had a not-so-great experience at N Grill in Hyderabad. Understatement. The experience was positively traumatic. Rather than waste words on describing the ambiance or the context or other less relevant details, I’m going to pen out a list of the seven things that made me want to run out of the restaurant, fuming and pounding my fists and shrieking that I’d never return. If this resembles a one-sided, fanatical hate mail letter, well, it’s absolutely meant to.
N’s Sinful Seven:
Sin #7 – Take phone reservations for kicks – no one’s really going to hold you accountable for that ‘table for two’ right?
Wrong. We were super annoyed that they had no table in the main seating area for us, despite our having called in for a reservation earlier.
Ma’am, why don’t you take one of our tables outside instead?
Right, and be eaten by the monsoon mosquitoes lurking in your patio?
Ok, we can accommodate you at this table next to the bar.
Ah, how gracious of you. We love tables tucked away in dark and dingy corners of restaurants that help simulate the experience of eating blindfolded.
Sin #6 – Design a decor that tries to bridge the East and West, but dies a slow painful death in between.
The restaurant had put as much thought into the decor as they did into following up on our reservation. i.e. None. Our window looked out to a giant stone statue of a traditionally-clad Thai lady, the only Thai element in the otherwise aspiring-to-be-western restaurant. Maybe the restaurant designers had furnished the restaurant in the same way they expected their customers to dine – blindfolded.
Sin #5 – Hire a restaurant manager with the cunning of fox and the memory of an elephant.
We hated the non-existent lighting above our table so much that I stooped down to pulling out the “I am a food critic, need a well-lit table so I can take appetizing food photos” card with the manager. The guy’s tone turned sugary sweet, he even handed over his business card, and assured us that he’d shift us to a better table that would be freeing up in the main seating area in a few minutes.
Guess what, he promptly forgot and never moved us to another table. In fact, he never came by our table for the rest of the evening. N Grill set a new standard for service incompetence that day.
Sin #4 – Offer an unoriginal third-class menu (with obnoxious first class prices).
The menu was painfully boring for a restaurant that’s positioned itself on the super high-end, uber expensive culinary scene in the city. I’d have expected a shorter menu, with a few select dishes that were thoughtfully composed and tastefully presented…instead, I got a laundry list of blah-sounding names like vegetable lasagna, with even blah-er, totally flat and plastic-looking food photographs.
Sin #3 – Bungle up the basics.
Any chef would have to try really, really hard to mess up a simple tomato soup, but N Grill did the impossible by (a) failing to provide any bread on the side until asked for, and (b) shoveling in more salt than tomatoes. *wretch*
Sin #2 – Ask your customer how much spice they’d like, then do the complete opposite.
Despite requesting that my salmon order (a special of the day) be made without any spice, the chef set my taste buds on fire with an extra spicy lemongrass gravy. (One redeeming aspect was that at least they didn’t charge us for this dish, which we’d returned to the kitchen relatively untouched after the first two bites)
Sin #1 – Put your (most irresistibly attractive) customers on a weight-loss program.
We know the salad was called Awesome Wholesome (at least something on the menu had a creative sounding name), but the complete lack of dressing felt a little extreme, especially for us two ladies who’d busted our bodies over two hours of swimming and yoga that morning. I mean, the whole point of ordering a healthy green salad in a restaurant is so that you can have some creamy dressing to sneak those calories in, right? Luckily, the iceberg lettuce, oranges, carrots, sprouts, chickpeas and croutons made for such a good mix of fresh, summery and crunchy that we gobbled up the salad, the only edible item left standing on the table.
Our measly soup, the salad, and a bottle of fancy Qua mineral water, came up to a whopping 600 rupees. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so violated and ripped off over a meal. I hope that either the Hyderabad public demands higher standards for the exorbitant prices they’re paying at N…or the restaurant decides to seriously revamp their service and restaurant concept.
I Live in a Frying Pan.
Phone: +91 (40) 64644141
Plot No. 788, Road No. 36 , Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad