Birthday Dinner at Chez Maria Gone Wrong

  • Added:
    Feb 18, 2013
  • Article Views:
  • Word Count:
Birthday Dinner at Chez Maria Gone Wrong Photo by Gabrielle Williams

Chez Maria, a unique, reputable restaurant on Hillcrest Avenue, specializes in Mediterranean Cuisine and also has a bar on property. So one would think that it would be a great choice for a Birthday dinner and drinks afterwards. Absolutely not.

Dinner was set for 8:00pm, but ofcourse everybody arrived Jamaican time close to 9:00pm, especially since we were told dinner is from 6 to 10pm. It was 10 of us including the Birthday celebrant. The ambience was just ok, not that impressive. I have a pet peeve of going to restaurants and being seated on plastic chairs. I believe changing what may seem to be a small detail can do a lot in improving the overall decor and comfort of customers or patrons. Also, since I have seen a few accidents with plastic chairs, it has made me more cautious, so I did not miss the crack on the arm of my friend's chair that could cause a potential accident. Thankfully everything went ok in that regard.

The menu items were impressive, with focus on authentic Lebanese and Italian dishes. A different format in terms of font and description of dishes could be used for the menu though. It was too fine and the lighting was inadequate, so a bit of an eye strain. Service was initially fair. For one of the soup choices that were not available, we were told that 'y not pita' would have it. Was this a promotion? Were we to leave and go there instead? Though assuming the owners of Chez Maria also own 'y not pita', the statement was interpreted as rude.

The food came in an adequate period of time, though the waiter was not pleasant throughout. A lot to be learnt here about 'service with a smile'. Instead of serving one person with what they ordered at one time, he was back and forth and that was just for the appetizer. Some persons were surprised with the appearance of their food as they confused a 'kebab' with a 'kabab'. Although this is not the restaurant's fault, the cuisine is a little different from what we are used to and all the more reason why descriptions or illustrations should be included on the menu and the font bigger for easier reading.

Compliments must be given where due though, so with that said, the majority of persons were satisfied with their food, saying the pastas were tasty. My chicken marsala with baked potato was delicious. Surprisingly however, the waiter never took a drink order from the table. Not even after an outright request for a drink was made, did it occur to our server that the entire table may want to order from the bar, instead a quick about turn was made to the bar to fill the single order, regardless of our attempts at regaining his attention for additional orders.

Dinner and chit chat were going well until we noticed that tablecloths were being taken off the tables close to us at exactly 10:00pm. The plan was to have some drinks at the bar afterwards but chairs were already being stacked. Someone at the table asked for a glass with ice, not even that could be obtained from the quickly closed bar. The waiter had to go back inside the kitchen for ice that took longer than it was supposed to. Then we started to wonder if we were stepping on anyone's toes because we were there so 'late' and if the ice we eventually got was 'ok'. So seriously, does it even make sense for a bar in Jamaica, or anywhere in the world for that matter to close at 10pm?! That's when its time to get the party started.

The waiter was then walking around with a backpack at about 10:15pm- Hint hint. He then had the nerve to walk to the table with his backpack on and stood up beside the Birthday celebrant, just staring. We were then amused, as he didn't say anything and walked off. Were we to ask for the bill? Quite unreasonable. We called him to the table a few minutes after, he looked on his watch and told us he could not meet our request to separate our bills. Sigh.

The hot topic then, was why were we having such a bad experience at such a reputable restaurant? But someone at the table had the same poor experience in fact at another birthday dinner about 2 years ago. The people that we saw at the bar before we were seated seemed to have been having a good time. Perhaps, as it stands now, you can only have a good time at Chez Maria up to 9pm. We then decided it was definitely time to make a move.

The waiter was reported to the manager who apologised for our horrible experience and separated our bills without hesitation. I would hate to see a reputable restaurant go down because of bad service. I hope that the necessary amendments were made and they consider opening the bar later than 10pm or at least until the last customer leaves, as it usually is in our culture.

Thankfully we were able to salvage the night and our friend's Birthday memories, at the Mahogany Tree Bar at Devon House, where the service is always excellent.

Author's Profile

Please Rate this Article
Poor Excellent