It’s currently restaurant week in Shanghai and I decided to try the JW Marriott Grill, taking advantage of the 250 rmb promotion to try somewhere new.
On arrival, I announced to the receptionist that I had a reservation through the restaurant week website. She looked very confused and ran off to find someone else. Eventually and to my relief, she came back with someone who knew what I was talking about and we were seated. We were promptly given a drinks list but there was no sign of the fixed price menu. Eventually, after ordering some wine, I asked the waiter what we would be getting for the 250 set and he verbally ran through the menu : a rare tune nicoise salad to start, steak with asparagus as the main and then a panacotta dessert. There were no alternative options, so I am not sure what you would do if you didn’t eat meat, but I’m not that fussy (who doesn’t enjoy a good steak) so I gave him the nod and we were all set.
There were only about 8 tables and about 20 waiting staff but everyone seemed to be in a constant state of panic and many of the junior waiters were literally running back and forth which was very distracting for diners as well as making it hard to relax and enjoy the meal. I was quite surprised that in a 5 star hotel there was no manger to keep things organised.
The salad was very well prepared – a very contemporary lightly seared tuna Nicoise sprinkled with freshly ground sea salt. It wasn’t very big but I’m not a big eater so it’s not an issue.
Then came the steaks. It had occured to me that we were not asked how we wanted them cooked and I suppose I should have mentioned this but I assumed they knew what they were doing (maybe they prepared it at the table and asked you at that point). Sadly, this wasn’t the case and my heart sank when the steaks arrived. As I cut in to the meat, I realised it was quite well done and no true steak afficiondo would eat something that well cooked. What a pity because it was a quality cut of meat.
The dessert was lovely. A trio of panacotta, berries soaked in alcohol and some kind of crumble. All these descriptions are my own, since as I have already mentioned, there was no menu available to read through. I did enjoy the dessert, although the panacotta tasted suspiciously like a passion fruit mousse.
Another minor irritation : every table had an oil lamp on it. Ours had gone out and not once did anyone think to relight it until I eventually asked one of the waitresses to do so. It went out again a few minutes later and I gave up on it.
All in all then, the meal wasn’t bad, but the service was well below what I was expecting for a 5 star global brand like Marriott. The staff were very polite and enthusiastic, but just seemed to have no training whatsoever as well as no senior supervision. With the drinks, the bill came to just under 700 rmb, which is far below what it would have been without the restaurant week promotional price so it wasn’t a total disaster, but I’d be quite unhappy if it was a normal evening at normal prices.
For more on restaurant week, check out Beverly’s post about M1NT’s 250 rmb dinner. Seems like a much better deal!