on January 19, 2013
Whilst we waited for the starters we all started to realise that we’d probably made a tactical error not choosing hot starters. When the soup arrived – a beautiful delicate green cream soup which was poured gently around a row of crayfish sprinkled with pea sprouts – I think the five cold starter orderers were all thinking "Oops". The temperature was the least of our worries. The tuna had been described as " Tuna served with sweet peppers, cream of avocado, Wasabi crackers & herb salad". I don’t know what I’d been expecting but I’m sure it included something with at least a hint of flavour. The tuna was practically sashimi with just the outermost couple of millimetres seared. Dots of green avocado cream (we prayed it was wasabi but it wasn’t and wondered WHY it wasn’t since it really did need to be) were spaced along the plates and little bits of grassy stuff were sprinkled on top and what looked like a green prawn cracker was perched on top. The so-called ‘Wasabi crackers’ were singular and had no wasabi taste at all. My boss tucked into the first piece of tuna and declared "This tastes of absolutely nothing at all". The other tuna eater and I tried and agreed. I don’t know if the fish was too cold but it really was totally tasteless. We asked if they had anything to put on it – some ginger, wasabi, even just salt and pepper. We managed to get the salt and pepper and in desperation I asked for mustard to give some kind of kick to the totally bland dish but the ginger was apparently ‘frozen’. So were we. I ate it because I was hungry and afterwards I realised there were no ‘sweet peppers’ at all and the ‘herb salad’ was just tiny little salad leaves rather than herbs. Disappointment all round.Another waitress came to collect the dishes and cannot help but have noticed that a lot had been left. "Was everything OK?" she asked and we couldn’t really bring ourselves to lie any more than we could bring ourselves to tell the truth. We all learned a lesson from our diplomatic French colleague – who had the soup and had done best of all of use – who just answered "Thank you". We decided henceforth our response to "Did you like it?" and similar questions will be "Thank you" and we will resist the temptation to respond "My cat wouldn’t touch that if he hadn’t eaten for a week and only had the alternative of a three week dead mouse corpse".Maybe the main courses would lift our spirits. Certainly we were pleased to know that the soup bowl had arrived piping hot so maybe we could warm our blue fingers on the main course dishes. My monkfish was served on a square slate and it was indeed REALLY hot. It’s just a desperate shame that the food wasn’t more than lukewarm. Everyone complained that the food wasn’t hot enough – probably because we were eating in Arctic conditions. On the plus side the people who had the vegetarian pasta said it was OK. The person who’d ordered the tuna starter we’d all just slagged off, looked at her plate like they’d served up the old mouse my cat had preferred and the USA steak was not at all what had been expected. Back to the monkfish and time for an examination of what went wrong. The dish was described as "Monkfish, served with 2 kinds of chicory, creamy black salsify and a sauce of nutmeg". Firstly there’s no need to have more than one type of chicory – it’s chicory and it’s not very nice served half-hot. I got a ‘head’ (or what do you call it when it’s chicory) sliced down the middle and served that way, warm, slimy and unpleasant. The second chicory must have been the small chunks of something slimy in the sauce which was not identifiable as nutmeg flavoured. And where was the ‘creamy black salsify’? I’m not one hundred percent sure I’d know salsify but there was NOTHING black on my plate except the slate itself. You’ll also maybe notice NO CARBOHYDRATE on either my starter or my main course. Perhaps some potatoes, some rice, some noodles or even some bloomin’ ‘quinoa’ might have meant I’d left the restaurant without a rumbling tummy. The monkfish had neither the appearance nor texture of normal monkfish and was much too cold. The others tried to wind me up by saying it looked like chicken.The only enjoyable part of the main course was my Belgian colleague telling us she’d dreamt the night before about going swimming in chocolate custard. She discussed at length how she’d tried to work out whether to swim with her mouth open and how to stop the custard sliding through her fingers. Would she float or sink and which stroke would be best suited to swimming in custard – and of course, what temperature should it be. It’s a shame the food wasn’t half as entertaining as her second hand dreams.I think we were all hungry and we debated puddings. They were not cheap at a minimum price of €12.50 but maybe they would fill us up and we could have hot drinks. In the end we decided we couldn’t take the cold any more. One colleague had lost the feeling in his feet and put his coat back on. We would go back to the cosy warmth of the Novotel and order a coffee there. We asked for the bill "As quickly as possible please" and headed back to the more civilised temperature of the hotel. I asked my boss what it came to and the bill was over €300 for six two-course meals with barely enough food (even if it had been any good) to fill the tummy of a starvation victim, a bottle of wine and a few soft drinks. At more than €50 per person I cannot consider this offered even a vague impersonation of good value.If I were invited back to Rosarium I would have to think very hard about whether to say no and stay in the hotel instead. I can’t fault the way the waitress ‘tried’ to do her best but she was fighting a losing battle. The food was cold and second rate and unforgivably lacking in anything flavoursome, ingredients were missing from both my dishes and the price was ridiculous for what we had. I wouldn’t mind returning for a drink on a summer evening but I cannot recommend this as a place to eat. Even if the temperature of the room had been OK, the food wasn’t good enough. They need to try a lot harder.
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