By the beach of Babylon, where we sat down. And waited. And waited.
Sunday would have been a lovely day to have brunch at Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, except pretty much every other person in Wellington had the same idea, and we were told it was going to be a 45 minute wait. We decided we’d venture further afield, and made the mistake of heading out to Oriental Parade, and Beach Babylon.
When we got there, it was really busy, but we thought surely it would be less than the 45 minutes wait at SMK, because there were free tables outside. It was a bit breezy, so we were keen to sit inside – since there were no free tables they offered us one outside and told us they’d give us the first free table inside. So we hopped up on stools crammed in the corner, and consulted the menu. Lots of things sounded tasty on the menu. K was happy that they had Foxton Fizz. I contemplated ordering a Pink Princess, which was fizzy raspberry and vanilla ice cream, but I decided to pretend to be a grown up and order a latte bowl instead. So we waited for a waitress, and waited, and waited. Eventually one came up and told us that she couldn’t take our food order right now, because the kitchen was slammed, but she’d be back to take our drinks order. Seriously? I appreciate the place was busy, but surely it is the job of the staff to manage the workflow. If the kitchen wasn’t ready for our orders (which seems strange), the wait staff should still take them, and hold onto them, and let us know approximately how long a wait we could expect.
Five minutes later another waitress asked if we’d ordered already, and took our drink orders, clearing our menus away but not taking our food orders. J’s diet coke and K’s Foxton Fizz arrived smartly, but while I was waiting for my large latte, we noticed another couple arrive and get seated inside. Umm, we were promised that table, K told a waitress. There was clearly a lack of communication happening with the staff. My coffee came out – a small latte. I said that I ordered a large, the waitress looked confused. Another one came along and said “well this one is made, so take this and we’ll give you another one later,” in a particularly grumpy manner. What a way to make a coffee extra bitter. I order my lattes large because I like them milky and less strong. Two cups would put me over the edge of caffeine intake, but I shouldn’t have worried because of course I was never offered the extra coffee. Oh, and I was charged for the large but by that stage I couldn’t be bothered fighting over the extra 50 cents.
Eventually we were told we could order our food now, and I went for creamy balsamic mushrooms and haloumi with a side of kranskies, J went for the fish’n chips of the day (no word on what the fish was) and K ordered a savoury scone and a sweet muffin from their range of counter food. 10 minutes later or so, we spotted a table inside that had opened up, and asked if we could move there. The waitress said we could, but asked us to wait while she cleaned it up. Meanwhile another waitress came out with K’s muffin and scone on separate plates. Not wanting to have to juggle water and coffees and drinks, we asked if she could deliver them to the table in the corner where we were moving to. She said she had no idea what we were talking about, and told us to just take the food.
Finally we were inside where it was warm. K finished her pallid scone and her apparently very average muffin. My coffee was long gone. Still no sign of our food though. We checked our watches – we’d ordered 45 minutes before. I managed to catch the eye of a waitress to ask where our food was, and she asked me who had taken our order. Never a good sign. I said I wasn’t sure, because of our jumbled service. A guy who I think was the manager came over and said there was a 45 minute wait. Now they tell us! But still, we’d waited that long and I told him so. He said he’d go see what had happened. I decided to use the magic trick of going to the bathroom to make the food arrive, and was intercepted by him to say that ours was literally the next order up. Which sounds kind of suspiciously like they’d lost our orders to me, since we’d seen the people seated after us get their orders already. But anyway, five minutes later, we had our food. The fish and crinkle-cut chips looked tasty enough. My haloumi was good, my toast unbuttered, and if I can slip in one more complaint, I know the mushrooms were billed as being balsamic, but they were just too balsamicy, if you know what I mean. All up, I think we spent an hour and a half at Beach Babylon, which is an hour of our lives we’ll never get back. I know that really we should have registered our complaints before we left, but it didn’t appear that there was anyone there who would have listened. I’ve had very indifferent service there at lunch before, and thought I’d give them another chance, but after this debacle, I won’t be bothering with their daytime service ever again though.