Oct 17, 2011

One piece less- The soupy situation

Are you a deal freak or a budget conscious big spender? Do you get daily SMS alerts from Snapdeal, Groupon etc.? Do you brighten up on seeing the 'unlimited Biriyani' offers online? Here is a soupy experience of mine which can tickle your funny bone and make you think twice about your choice of the 'unlimited biriyani' cook.

A few days back, I had heeded to a long-pending request (read murder threats) for a treat from my friends to celebrate a happy personal moment. Around 8 friends were invited to the list and I zeroed in on a hitherto unheard restaurant in T Nagar based on a 50% off deal through one of the above sites. One coupon will give us a 50% discount on a minimum bill of Rs 400. I had three coupons and had planned to satiate eight hungry men within Rs 600 (which is double without discount). As luck would have it, 5 of my friends withdrew citing various reasons at the last minutes. Two were stuck by a flu and the rest packed up on unavoidable last minute trips out of Chennai due to their girlfriend, alma mater and employer respectively.

On the D-day, the 3 of us who were match-fit reached the restaurant around dinner time. We appeared like the Indian team that toured England recently - depleted by injuries and absences - and in half-strength. At least team India manages some substitutes. However we were determined to make the missing men repent the lapsed treat. Fate had other plans!

The restaurant was located in a dark gully very adjacent to the buzzling streets of T Nagar. The restaurant was slightly eerie with a deserted look and along with us, 3 tables were occupied. We intimated the waiter beforehand that we are planning to use those vouchers. He gave a familiar look of the coupon-eater to us and went to intimate his manager and came back with the menu card.

We were contemplating a soup at first but pretty soon decided against it due to solid ambitions! One can always compensate the missed soup with another plate of crunchy starters. Unfortunately, this debate was staged in front of the waiter and just as we were about to order some strange-named chicken starter dish, the waiter politely told us that soups have to be mandatorily purchased if we have to use the vouchers. I did not miss the look on his face that was proud to have conjured this new condition just moments back. A soup would cost minimum 60 bucks and with 3 of us, he can cut down his discount damages.

Half-heartedly we ordered a 2/3 split of some Chicken clear (the soup with the least price denomination there). Surprise ! He conjured another new condition. No splitting allowed for soups if we are to use the coupons. So we had to order 3 full bowls of soup. We did! That was round one. There was more to follow.

Their menu card read
Chicken Lollypop (6 pieces) - Rs 1XX /-

We ordered the dish among other starters. Few minutes later the waiter brought our lollypops. There were 5 pieces on the plate. Now, I must admit that splitting 5 pieces to 6 people in a dinner treat is tougher than the Travelling Salesman problem and it requires more than mathematical wisdom. We were not that wise and not that shy. I called the waiter and asked for the sixth piece that should have come. I thought it was a simple total mistake ! Shockingly, the waiter responded saying, "Voucher na oru piece cummy Saar" (meaning for vouchers we give one piece less only Sir) !!! Gradually it dawned on me that I had made a total mistake in selecting this restaurant for that fateful night. When I asked him why these innovative out-of-the-box revolutionary conditions were not mentioned at the time of purchase of coupons, he curtly replied it is the manager's responsibility and he is only carrying out orders.

Bae Bae voucher sheep .. one piece less !

Not in a mood to fight and due to some sheer public decency, we restrained from staging a walkout or a fast there and stayed on with our further orders. I was tempted to ask him if they have the habit of serving chicken pieces in chicken biriyanis for vouchers. (I was half expecting a "Voucher na biriyani la piece kedayadhu Saar"). I was half-right. There was chicken. But there was no biriyani ! Or at least I had to search for it in the pint sized bowls that brought steaming hot SAMPLE PACKS of biriyanis . Seems they had specially ordered voucher-sized vessels for serving to customers who come up with these vouchers. A normal man with diabetes and loss of appetite problems can eat two plates of Chicken biriyani and still have some space for a dessert with those bowl sizes.

The worst was yet to come! And fortunately it struck the adjacent table. As this drama was unfolding, another couple occupied the adjacent table and ordered something. The waiter brought their dishes in seemingly large (read normal sized) vessels. Quite innocently the husband conveyed to the waiter that they are eating on VOUCHER. The waiter seemed shell shocked. He had committed a grave folly. Immediately he apologized to the customer for not asking it before and promptly took the dishes back to the kitchen (yes, literally he took away dishes that were served on the customer's table). Soon, he returned with the customized voucher-sized vessels with those dishes. The husband had already received the best insult of his life in front of his wife. The waiter gave a casual look as if this happens everyday in life!

We lost our appetite primarily because of this hospitality and ended our main courses sooner than usual. The voucher demanded we meet some more to reach the minimum billable amount for the third coupon. I ordered another plate of Chicken 65. Menu card read 8 pieces for Rs 1XX/-. We were busy doing the math for a 7/3 split of the Chicken 65. Surprise ! there were 9 pieces on our plate. But what good is a man's character if he did not call the waiter and asked him to take away that extra piece of meat that carelessly walked into the customer's plate despite heavy kitchen scrutiny? Especially in a place where plates were taken back at the whims of a waiter !

Funnily I was reminded of the old Bhagyaraj Tamil movie scene where his younger sister reminds him to drop a 50 paise coin while a steamy scene approached in the cinema. "Waiter Saar, oru piece cummya vaika marandhuteenga:-)"

What do I tell about this experience? You get the drift right? Not that these deal websites do a bad job. I had a great experience with a restaurant called 'Platter' in Anna Nagar in Chennai through Snapdeal very recently.  These are odd incidents but there is always a potential risk.
Hi there... please visit XXX restaurant. They have a great item
called  'irritation' served hot ...

Dear unlimited biriyani providers,

If you do not intend to give discounts, please do not give discounts. There is no way you are going to get the magical word-of-mouth  support for your restaurant that these deal websites sell to you if you are going to treat your customer like discount beggars. Understand you bleddy buggars !

- GS


  1. Ha ha .. Ponga boss .. sudexo ke intha mathiri than look vidranunga ...

  2. Ha ha.. A Surprise article from Gs.. Bubbling humour throughout.. That Injury prone Indian Team comparison was ultimate! Happy to be down with flu then ;)

  3. Machi... Why bllod, same blood!!!:-)

    Same experience for me in saidapet, thru foodome.com
    forgot the name of the restaurant though..
    It was a good article machi..:-) funny and enjoyed reading it..

  4. Just thought of having a look at your blog. U write well. Perhaps, in ur Tamil stories u could cut short the introductions and go directly to the stories. But this is just my thought, and I could be wrong.

    Anyway u r doing a great job by writing stories with what u observe in real life. Keep it up.

    PS:I may not be a regular reader at ur blog, because I have a lot of reading to do for writing my Ramayanam. Just took a break and came here to say hi. :)

    Wish U all the best!

  5. Thanks Ramesh.. great to see a comment from you.. All the best for your work to come up well