photo by Mike Lawton
date of visit: Sunday 15 January 2012
Our overseas guests expressed a desire to have dinner overlooking the sea before leaving and my thoughts turned, naturally, to Glenelg. Which is a bit silly, as I could have also made a couple of reasonably sound choices in plenty of other places. Still, I ummed and aahed about a couple of Glenelg venues and finally decided on the Promenade Restaurant at the Stamford Grand.
As a rule, I LOVE hotel restaurants. I’ve eaten at some very good ones and as I don’t think I’ve ever had dinner at the Promenade it was also an opportunity to try something new-ish. Only new-ish because I’ve had both lunch and afternoon tea at the Promenade. To be honest, previous experiences hadn’t been exactly great but I was prepared to give the Grand another go, at a different time of day.
What a mistake. I don’t think I got more than part way through my entrée when I really started to regret my choice of venue.
Service wise, it was all a bit Fawlty Towers and I really felt sorry for the young (French Canadian) woman who was either maître d’ or our main waiter because she was constantly chasing up the staff around her.
I don’t think I’ll catalogue everything that went wrong – the service was cringeworthy – so I’ll just dish up a few highlights. The wine list, for a restaurant which has quite a few tickets on itself, in such a wine rich and savvy state, is depressingly pedestrian (and if the management of the restaurant seriously think people will order a $355 bottle of Dom Pérignon without a vintage, I bet they find themselves sorely mistaken). We ordered a bottle of Mr Riggs Riesling, but a bottle of the Mr Riggs Outpost (Cabernet Sauvignon) was brought to the table. The French Canadian lady noticed, but not before we’d noticed but thankfully before the bottle was opened and the waiter was sent away to bring the right wine.
The service highlight was, without a doubt, that our main courses arrived before our entrée plates had been cleared. Yes, the main courses didn’t hit our table (again, thanks to the French Canadian woman) but there they all were, lined up, ready to go before there was a frantic clearing of dishes to create space for them. That gives you an idea of the kind of pace at which the meal was run.
OK – service was woeful. Let’s talk about the food.
I started with the goat’s cheese soufflé, served with caramelised onions. I think I can live with the fact that my food was served on wildly geometric plates, but what I cannot deal with is the fact that the plate was drizzled (artistically, of course) with a reduced balsamic glaze and that was ALL I could taste. In terms of texture and weight, the soufflé seemed fine, but in terms of taste – I have no idea. It tasted of reduced balsamic glaze.
I ordered the Parmesan crusted scallops for my main course. These were offered as both an entré and a main. For $32 I received 6 scallops that were all on the small side. There were all served in the shell, on a cauliflower and roasted garlic puree. I don’t know what I was envisaging at the time, but now I’ve thought about it – quite a lot – I imagine this dish should have been big, fat scallops, perfectly cooked and caramelised, topped with crisp Parmesan wafers. The wafers could be held in place by tiny dollops of the puree. But no, the way the dish was executed was more like scallops crumbed in a breadcrumb and Parmesan mix and then deep fried. The puree was OK (after the disappointment of the scallops I suspect most things would have been good) but nothing to write home about. In keeping with the over the top presentation, the scallop shells were served on a long rectangular plate filled with sea salt.
By the time I finished my main course, I really wanted to escape. I was hating myself for not going with what had been my second choice. I was hating my food, I was hating the service, I was hating the fact that we were sitting in the atrium area and I was hot. And I was really hating how much everything was costing.
By the time we left, we spent about $100 a head. Far, far too much. The Promenade restaurant has fancy restaurant prices but doesn’t deliver. It’s really much more of a casual dining venue. I’m pretty scruffy normally but I love dressing up for a good meal out – but the Promenade isn’t the place to do that. Casual to smart casual and you’ll be fine.
This is just so disappointing – the Grand is a flashy hotel, on the waterfront, that must have a lot of interstate and international guests. The restaurant should be showcasing South Australian wine, with an interesting selection of Australian and imported wines. It should be showcasing South Australian produce (very few dishes on the menu detailed provenance) and it should really, really get its service act together.
My recommendation – go somewhere else. Glenelg has loads of places to choose from of varying price and quality. Personally – I suggest you head to Tasca Viva.