Rediscovering customer excellence – my trip to see Gary Rhodes

Well, the title may be misleading but these experiences are something I have meant to blog about since Boxing Day last year. To me customer service is paramount. Your product may not be the best value, but if you make me feel appreciated as a customer I’ll keep on coming back. Unfortunately in the Gulf region customer service usually means blaming the customer; the phrase ‘no Sir’ will constantly ring in your ears. There are times when even the cynic in me is proved wrong and I end up being taken aback by an organisation’s/employee’s devotion to the customer.

As usual, my food cravings are my weakness. I’ve often felt that I have the desires of a pregnant women when it comes to indulging my taste buds and Christmas was no exception. Wanting a three course British menu to fulfill my nostalgia for those Christmases long-past when I’d whoof down a couple of kilos of turkey, stuffing and Brussels sprouts I searched out for a suitable restaurant for me and my wife.

After doing all of the research (not including tasting) we plumped for a visit to The Embassy in Dubai’s Grosvenor House hotel. All the reviews had stressed that this was a top notch place with the best English grub around. Who could say no to cherry tomato tart with goat’s cheese and onion marmalade or a roast lamb with a mint crust and potatoes? And the Eton mess? Heaven!

We headed down on Christmas Day in the evening (yes, I was working that day unfortunately) and ready to be amazed. We arrived and were wowed by the views (the restaurant has a remarkable view from the 45th floor of the hotel). And then I opened the menu. And it wasn’t my menu. The Embassy’s head chef had changed and the restaurant’s new head chef had changed the menu. My craving wasn’t satisfied, even after the chef did a special off-the-menu order of Eton mess for us. We didn’t complain, we enjoyed our food but we did tell the maitre d’ that we’d expected something else. I left with a full tummy, but my desires hadn’t been fulfilled.

Flash forward two days and my wife received a call from the hotel (her number had been stored on their customer management system). They told her the head chef at Gary Rhodes Mezzanine would do us a special no-alcohol Christmas menu replete with roast turkey, turnip puree, baby potatoes and all the other trimmings. My explanation doesn’t even do the menu or the cooking justice (truffle crumpets is just magical and no, I don’t Instagram food). After two and a half hours of food heaven, including five different courses and more English tradition than the Queen giving her Christmas address followed by Only Fools and Horses I went home more than satisfied.

What did it for me was the attention to detail, and how the staff had remembered our comments the first time we visited the hotel, how they had reached out us and how they had done all they could do to make us happy. The food and beverage manager Lorenzo had gone out of his way to arrange a special night and a one-off menu. He’d come to visit us at the restaurant and he’d personally seen to it that we were happy throughout. For me, customer service was redeemed in the Gulf. And all it took was a man called Lorenzo at the Grosvenor House.

Is there anything better than Bread and Butter pudding? Well, maybe Gary Rhodes’ version. There’s nothing like customer excellence to keep you coming back for more!

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