Years ago, I had a meal at a Spanish restaurant called Esquina, and I had this little nasi-lemak inspired seared scallop dish which left such an impression on me that I remarked that it was”(q)uite marvellous and one of my most memorable and startlingly good mains ever”, ending my review with a score of 4.6/5.
This fact may shed some light as to why the experience I had tonight affected me quite so badly.
The scallop dish was the creation of one Andrew Walsh, a chef with an illustrious career in the international culinary sphere who used to helm the kitchen at Esquina. Andrew went on to open his own flagship restaurant Cure Singapore along Keong Saik Road to much acclaim, and has just launched a new Asian-inspired bar and grill concept, Butcher Boy, along the same stretch.
Earlier this week, I found out from both Butcher Boy’s Chope listing as well as this Butcher Boy’s instagram post that as part of a soft launch promotion, Butcher Boy was offering “20% off the total bill when you dine from the 10th to 20th August 2017″ (Chope’s language)/”20% off the food bill” (Butcher Boy’s language). I also managed to download and view a copy of Butcher Boy’s menu (this version stated the prices, but as of the time of this post has since been replaced with another version where prices are omitted) prior to my visit.
Before the subject of this post took place (“the Event“), I already decided that the meal was not quite as enjoyable as I had expected it to be, the biggest reason being the portion sizes of each dish vis-à-vis the menu price. I have had great food for ridiculously steep prices on numerous occasions, and am normally quite forgiving about pricey dishes so long as they demonstrated the requisite merit. (That is the reason why, for the thousands of food posts I have done on Instagram, I seldom referred to the price within the post.) Prior to our asking for the bill, I had expressed my views about the portion sizes on both Instagram Stories as well as this Instagram post, which proves that I am not being negative about the food or its pricing solely because of the Event.
Now, the Event.
I asked for the bill, which is reproduced below.
There was no deduction or any reference to a discount whatsoever on the bill.
I enquired as to whether the bill reflected the prices before the 20% discount.
Our server, this friendly girl with a warm smile and luminous eyes, told us that the bill reflected the total after the discount, and that the discount had been taken into account in the reflection of prices on the printed menus.
Referring to the hearing of this as “a rude shock” is like referring to a Pomeranian as being “aurally lively”. The understatement is real.
I expressed disbelief, along the lines of “that can’t be right”. My legal training was giving my ears a lovely tingling sensation.
My dining companion looked as though he had just seen a seal get swallowed by an American Eagle.
The friendly girl apologised, saying she should have shared this with us when I had enquired about the discount before we first sat down at our table. I handed my credit card to the friendly girl, who took it and left.
My dining companion then reviewed the Butcher Boy menu I had shared with him earlier in my effort to persuade him to join me on what is fast shaping up to be a nightmarish dinner experience. The online and printed menus had slight differences – the $32 Iberico Pork Belly was for 250g on the online menu instead of 200g, whilst elsewhere the fish skin cost $7 on the online menu instead of $6 – but the point was we highly doubted that Butcher Boy would have uploaded a provisional menu onto the Chope platform which only has a validity of ten days before the 20% discount promotion ends.
Even if they did, it does not resolve the issue of how the explanation of the discount having already been factored into the prices on the printed menus smelled worse than fish sauce (coincidentally, an ingredient used very liberally in the Duck Banh Mi dish) in a post-field camp sock owned by a guy with athlete’s foot. The plain meaning of the language employed by both Chope and Butcher Boy when referring to the soft launch promo speaks for itself.
I felt really, really ripped off.
We left without disputing the bill, or creating a fuss, or asking for the manager, or being nasty. Neither the feeling of indignation from the Event nor the $20 difference in what we had expected to pay was what ruined my Friday evening. The cherry on the sad, slumped cake was the unexpected common denominator in both one of my most memorable and one of my most upsetting meal experiences ever.
Postscript: Andrew Walsh himself has reached out to me personally in relation to this matter, and has clarified that it was a mistake on the part of the team. The management at that point offered a refund of the discounted sum, although as of 2 October 2017 I have not received any follow-up in relation to the refund. Nonetheless, I am supremely relieved to hear it was a mistake as opposed to an intentional act on the part of the team, as the notion of an advertised discount being factored into menu prices is extremely disconcerting to say the least.
The “20% off total bill” must have wondered into the Yishun wilderness, never to be seen again.
Crispy Fish Skin, Nori Salt, Sesame Tahini ($6).
Duck Banh Mi, Liver Pate, Sriracha (2 pieces) ($18).
Iberico Pork Belly (200g) ($32).
Chocolate Textures, Salted Crackers, Matcha ($12).
Smoking Carriage (Dictator 20, Salted Caramel Syrup, Bitters, Orange, Smoke) ($22).
Butcher Boy Singapore
31 Keong Saik Road