The Worst Curry House EVER!
The Bombay Masala on 49th street claims to be the oldest Indian restaurant in New York and it provided me with one of my worst culinary experiences whilst living in the US.
A group of us decided to pay a visit one day after work and our initial reaction was that the staff were extremely rude. Ignoring this, we were led through the practically empty restaurant to our table and were seated. Now up to this point I’d had 20 years of experience in eating Indian food and so I’d consider myself, even back then, a good judge. The food was appalling, oldest Indian restaurant? Oldest curry more like, as it tasted like it had been there for days. Worse than the food, however, was the service, which was some of the worst I’d experienced in any restaurant, even to this day.
I consider myself a fair tipper, actually I’d say I’m a good tipper. I don’t like going to restaurants that have a service charge added to the bill, not because I think it’s rude or anything, simply for the fact that I find the 12.5% not enough and normally I tip around 20% in restaurants. In fact for the most part even if the food and service is shaky, I’ll still tip. What I don’t agree with is the fact the in the US tips are expected by the staff, whether the service and food is great, good, poor or dreadful. This is one thing I will not bow to and in this case we decided (All my colleagues were American) that due to the dreadful food and service and the rudeness of the staff, that we were not going to give any gratuity at all. I paid for the whole meal with my American Express card, and then we walked to the door to leave. Standing in our path was the restaurant manager, holding up the receipt from the bill payment. We asked if there was a problem with the card and he said ‘No, you have not left a tip’. Thinking that he’d just thought that we’d forgotten, we explained that we had decided not to leave any gratuity as we were not happy with the service or food and that the staff were extremely rude, to which he replied ‘But you must leave a tip’. ‘Err no we don’t have to’, ‘Yes, please put tip amount on bill’. You can see where this is going. Eventually we left, but I felt very wary of the situation.
A few weeks later I looked at my AMEX statement deliberately to check to see if the amount from this transaction was correct. Comparing the statement with the bill I realised that they had added the tip on after we left, a tip of 25%! To say I wasn’t best pleased is the world’s biggest understatement and the following day I walked into the restaurant in the lunchtime rush and demanded to speak to the manager. The manager came out and I explained, extremely loudly and in front of the patrons, that they had basically committed fraud. There was a surprised look on his face to say the least and he looked at the bill and the statement. He proceeded to plead innocence, offered a weak apology, and then offered me a free meal to compensate! My voice became louder. Why would I go back to the restaurant that had provided awful food, terrible and rude service and who had basically stolen money from me? Okay, he said he’d refund the money the following week onto my card. My answer was in the negative and I continued to explain that they had committed an illegal act, and by this time I had the full attention of the whole restaurant, who were listening intently. When I left, I had finally been given the full amount in cash and I guessed that the manager would think twice about doing the same thing again. If you’re hungry and near 49th street, go to the nearest muddy water dog stand, believe me, you’ll be better off.