Rage at the Regency Room

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    Nov 28, 2013
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Rage at the Regency Room Photo by Gabrielle Williams

The Regency Room at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel was the restaurant of choice for a friend of mine to host her Birthday dinner last Friday night. Being a Jamaican that currently resides in Florida who makes frequent visits, my friend was excited to hear about the recently refurbished Regency Room. Having knowledge of her fastidious nature, I did my background checks and informed her of its impeccable reputation for achieving excellent value for your money. She quickly made her reservation for 14 persons more than a week in advance.

My highly anticipated reunion with the Birthday girl had arrived and I was warmly greeted in the Piano Lounge by the Maitre d' and shown the way to the Regency Room. I was instantly impressed with the elegant decor of antique sets and crystal chandeliers topped off with chocolate and merlot coloured upholstery and furnishing. I felt like I walked on to the set of the movie, 'The Butler' but had to quickly snap myself back to reality and happily exchange hugs with the Birthday girl and a few other friends that arrived on time for our reservation at 9pm. 

While we waited on the arrival of other guests, we did some catching up, complemented by calming piano music, candle lit tables and beautiful centerpieces with white roses. We noticed we were hungry and the majority of guests had arrived. We were simultaneously surprised at the fact that the dining room brigade seemed to be off duty. It was now past 9:30pm and no one had approached the table to see if we would like to start ordering without the other guests, or if we would like a drink or appetizers. A member of our party had to get up quickly and find a waiter who came, issued menus and poured water without greeting the table. Wine was ordered, which I politely declined and to my surprise, was not asked if I would like anything else to drink or given any options. We were left unattended again to the point where someone had to again call a waiter to attend to the table. Our orders were taken at 10pm, who also forgot to greet the table. I believe welcoming such a large party and pleasantly inquiring about the occasion was duly expected. 

After patiently waiting for 25 minutes, the bread came out. Thankfully nobody choked because our water was not topped up. About 10 minutes later, appetizers arrived for the 3 persons who ordered them. As more time passed, the piano music was no longer calming because it eventually understandably stopped playing. The lit candles were an excellent indication of our lengthy wait as they burned close to the wick, and we ran out of interesting topics of conversation. At this point everyone was just hungry and miserable.

One waiter for a table of 14 reserved guests, graced our presence at 11pm, serving persons one at a time. Were trays and folding tray stands non existent? Did the other waiters go home? The Birthday girl at this point was beyond irate, and though her Calypso shrimp dish with a side of potatoes looked divine, she did not touch her plate. She was unfortunately no longer hungry. Two other persons shared the sentiment, including one who's order was presented incorrectly, and having refused to wait another hour for them to cook what she rightfully ordered, her order was returned. 

The rest of us dove in to our entrées. My Seafood Risotto was delicious. Unfortunately I could not finish it because I had lost half of my appetite. But the serving size was adequate to full anyone's stomach. So barring bad service that dish would have definitely been value for my money. 

I was looking forward to seeing the Mahogany Duck, ordered by the member across the table. I love to see restaurants venture outside of the popular meats such as chicken, fish, beef or pork. However, I was disappointed once it arrived to the table blackened in color and obviously overcooked. The guest confirmed it tasted overcooked and slightly burnt.

On a lighter note, the Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew of lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels and snapper, as well as the Steak stuffed with blue cream cheese were flavorful and on point.

A Maitre d', Peter, who we thought was the night manager, was called to our table by one of our friends who had a lengthy one on one discussion with him. Sadly it was mentioned that the service at Burger King tends to be better. Peter apologised to the table, mentioning service is not normally like this and offered us a free bottle of Champagne. We accepted his apology but turned down the champagne, as at that point in the night we were ready for some stronger drinks. The waiters returned to the table and apologised as well though inaudible in their repose.

Now for one of Kingston's very few fine dining restaurants, with such a delightful and romantic atmosphere, elegant setting and well earned outstanding reputation, I am truly appalled and disappointed. With an offering of white glove service, there is no room for error. There is no excuse for a restaurant of that caliber to have persons wait for food for over an hour without coming to the table apologising for the delay, giving an update as to the status of the kitchen or offering something else to drink. Why did the bread come out half hour before the food?! 

With Restaurant Week around the corner, one week to be exact, this level of displeasing service was not a good impression in a society highly influenced by word of mouth. The persons that did not touch their food and sent it away, did not have to pay, so I am sure Peter had some explaining to do. In short order, the owner and restaurant manager were spoken to and a few of us were called to verify our experiences. So on a lighter note, I hope that the said issues were immediately rectified and we look forward to returning for dinner with a promised, much improved service and experience. After all, persons are continuously looking for unique, fine dining restaurants whether it is for an occasion, just to dress their finest, an epicurean experience or simply to get good value for their money. 

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