Before I go on to a "normal" post about my recent dinner at the Mandarin Oriental's French restaurant Pierre, here are the emails exchanged with the restaurant after the meal. I think my sentiments have been fairly well expressed in the emails below. (Stilted 140 character overviews can be found on Twitter). I shall therefore provide no further comment. What's your take?
To: Pierre, MOHG
Date: Nov 5, 2009
Subject: Pierre, 4 Nov 2009
It pains me that this email has to be written, as the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong has always been one of my favourite hotels, not only in the SAR, but globally, precisely because of its fantastic F&B outlets that have always exceeded my expectations on all fronts - cuisine, wine, ambiance and service.
We arrived for dinner last night to celebrate a graduation. There were many things about the service that evening that led to a subpar dining experience. Most disconcerting of all was the wine service - when a taste of my selected wine was poured into my glass, I smelled an odour distinctly uncharacteristic of wine (a damp, disturbing smell of day-old fish). I smelled several times to ensure that it was there, and took my companion's empty glass to confirm before notifying the sommelier. I was simply told, without any suggestion of replacement of the glasses, that "it happens sometimes due to the drying cloths we use for the glasses". To say I was shocked would be an understatement.
In addition, I had a distinct feeling of being rushed by the flurried pace of the staff. For example, while enjoying my starter, I paused several times to speak to the fellow diners on my table, as I imagine most non-mute, polite diners would. I held cutlery in both my hands and these hands we held over a dish I had yet to finish. To my surprise, a member of staff reached under my wrists to remove the plate - I was forced to bring the conversation to an abrupt halt to stop him from taking it away, as I had clearly (at least in my mind) not finished - with a spoonful of caviar and (beautifully) poached egg remaining on my plate.
Episodes like these continued throughout the evening and needless to say, severely hampered on the enjoyment of the generally very fine cuisine crafted by your chefs, as well as our delightful Chambolle Musigny.
I do apologise if the above sounds blunt, but as a long time, loyal supporter of the Mandarin, I felt compelled to report back. I wish for nothing but the best for the hotel, and look forward to hearing about improvements in the level of service at Pierre, as I am afraid it will be a while before I visit in person again.
From: Axxxxxx Mxxxx, MOHG
Date: Nov 6, 2009
Subject: Re: Pierre, 4 Nov 2009
Dear Ms xxxxx
I would like to thank you for your constructive feedback on our glassware cleanliness and assure you that I have discussed the matter at length with the Pierre team.
The team and I truly regret that you have suffered from discomfort and assure you this does not reflect the usual service standards Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is famous for.
As a token of our true concern and recognition as a valued customer, I would like to offer a bottle of champagne with my compliment on your next visit; and would be grateful if you could make your reservation through my office so that I may handle the arrangement personally.
Kindly contact myself directly at 2825 XXXX, so that I can handle personally all necessary arrangements for you.
I look forward to welcoming you back to the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong again in the very near future.
Director of Food & Beverage
To: Axxxxxx Mxxxx, MOHG
Date: 7 Nov, 2009
Subject: Re: Pierre, 4 Nov 2009
Thank you very much for your reply. I am glad to hear that the matter has been discussed with the Pierre team, and as mentioned, hope to hear positive reviews of the restaurant in the future.
I do appreciate your gesture with regards to my next booking, however it is simply my pleasure (and duty as a customer) to feed back to you and your team, and I am sure the champagne would be better employed for the enjoyment of other diners.
Again, wishing all the best to you and the team at Pierre.