There are meals that are forgettable and there are meals that one remembers. Working in the Golden Triangle I frequent the food-court of a large mall where the bulk of my lunches invariably fall into the former category. The latter can then be sub-divided into the good, the bad and the ugly.
In a fit of unquestionable foolhardiness I told my colleagues that we should go to the Albion for lunch on Christmas Eve. This meant listening to my colleague P moaning about how far it was from the office. I assured him that it was MYR25.00 for a 3 course set lunch so it would be worth it. The three of us arrived at 1215 and were the 4th table to be seated. The couple seated next to us had ordered ala carte with champagne and were understandably being paid a great deal of attention by the 2 waiters present. So much so that we had to wait until 1230 until one of the waiters turned up and enquired as to our order. Salad or soup for starters, mac n cheese or chicken for mains and affogato for dessert. Orders taken, we then began the usual round of bellyaching and gossip that people in my trade are famous for. 1245 rolls around and no starters, no complimentary bread or drinks have arrived. I call the waiter over and ask him when our meal is expected to arrive. After a quick check he returns and smilingly informs us that “the chicken is not ready, sir”. When will it be ready? “20 mnuites, sir”. This is all said with a straight face, mind you. Mind you, perhaps the waiter hadn’t noticed the sign outside announcing that Albion has an Express Lunch for MY20.00 for 2 courses or MYR25.00 for 3 courses.
I know that as a diner in Malaysia one can only expect a certain service level and that is the sad truth of the matter. This is more or less the case no matter where you go. Cutting to the chase, my pumpkin soup was well presented but salty and I didn’t finish it. When the chicken finally arrived it was dry and tasteless. The mash was alright but then again how is it possible to stuff up mash? The affogato was fine. It did what it said on the box and it was a surprising highpoint of the meal. Since I had recommended the place I paid the bill (it contained an error but I had realized by that point that asking for it to be changed would result in a further delay) and we all agreed that we would never return here again. In all fairness it does represent a very good deal and most KLites would probably enjoy it. Just don’t expect there to be anything express about the service despite the owner being present. We left at 1345.
PS this meal was memorable because it was bad.
Albion recently won Best Independent Restaurant at the Timeout KL Food Awards 2010. I have never tried the express lunch but the three times I have been there (ordering from the ala carte menu), it has always been quite pleasant.