I have eaten at a lot of restaurants around the world and generally eat out twice or three times a week in London. I always bring my pot of dried chilli flakes with me wherever I go in the world as I am a vegetarian and enjoy spicing up my food. Recently I was asked to leave Hakkasan for putting them on my food. Please read on below.
I went out on an evening with my girlfriends to Hakkasan — a favorite of mine in the past. At the door we were greeted with a smile by the hostess who then showed us to our seats. We ordered our food and cocktails and when our starters arrived, I got my chilli flakes out of my bag to put on my food as I love my food spicy. I never leave home without them. What happened next was astounding. The waiter came over and said can you please put your chilli flakes away as they are not in theme with the restaurant and against the rules. I was flabbergasted and said pardon.
The waiter then continued to say it’s against the rules to bring your own food into the restaurant. I told him that number one it’s not a food it’s a spice and seasoning and if you are quoting rules to me, I am more than happy to comply, but first show me where the policy & rules are written. Otherwise unless you were going to pay my bill, please don’t tell me how to eat my food. I was extremely embarrassed and angry. How dare the waiter tell me that I can’t put chilli flakes on my food when the restaurant did not have any to give me. Anyway we tried to forget his controversial comments and continue our evening. Five minutes later a manager came over to the table. He was very rude now and began to raise his voice. He said madam my colleague has asked you to put your chilli flakes away and I can still see them on the table. They are offending the customers and If you don’t put them away now, I must ask you to leave the restaurant. I told him that I was happy to put them away as I told his colleague if you show me where the policy is written that I can’t bring my own seasoning into your restaurant. Your website and menus do not state anything to this effect. I then continued to show him on my phone a description of what chilli flakes were and that they are not classed as a food. In all honesty, I don’t know why I was having to justify myself and I could not believe what was going on in front of me. I had this emotional, egotistical man panting his chest, because I dared to question him and the non-existent policies. He then became dictatorial and said he would call security if I would not leave, before that though he gave me one further chance to put the chillis away, but I was not going to be bullied by a restaurant. So I got up and left the restaurant in total disbelief. This was an utter disgrace. What had just happened here? Where was the customer service? I was also astounded that this manager felt that he could and would be allowed to be so rude to a customer. Yes, I could have put the chilli flakes away for an easy life, but why should I be bullied into doing this in a restaurant where the average cost per head is £100 and the service charge is 15%. What is the world coming to when you pay extreme amounts of money for a meal and the staff tell you how you must eat your food and what they allow on the table? Then to demand if I don’t eat the food their way I must leave the restaurant.
Whats next, if you don’t have an I phone it can’t go on the table, or you don’t have a Chanel bag so it can’t go on the seat.
I took my complaint to head office and they were not overly apologetic. They also could not show me where the policy was that I could not bring my own seasoning in their restaurant. They offered me a complimentary meal but I declined. If a company at head office condone this kind of behaviour from its staff especially a manager there is no hope.
Now I want to ask a question, was I wrong to stand up for what I believed. When paying for a meal should I be told how to eat it? And was it ok being asked to leave because I would not put my chilli flakes away? Your views and opinions would be appreciated.
Also has anyone had a similar experience?