Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Mis-calculating Upper Modern Bistro

We dropped by Upper Modern Bistro in early July for a casual weekend brunch with friends. Charlotte and I enjoyed a good meal the first time we were here a couple months back, so we decided to come back again, especially knowing Jeremy Evrard, the former manager at Caprice has joined recently to lead the front of the house team with his excellent cheese selections now available on their menu.

Normally I would love to spend the next 200 words exclaiming and praising the excellent food we had, from the cold gazpacho soup to the 63-degree egg with toast and belotta ham and the icecream "sandwich" dessert. They were all neatly constructed and stunningly delicious. And OMG - the cheeses that Jeremy has selected for us were so sumptuous that it's heavenly. It does seem to be a perfect place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. Too bad that's not the end of the story...

The Food
Here's the bombshell that I absolutely hated to drop - it's the service that left much to be desired, unfortunately, something I now feel more compelled to share instead of its food. That I am not talking about a few minor mishaps we experienced during the meal, including the staff missing some of our orders, taking a bit too long to bring us the food etc, but a much bigger issue to the extent we couldn't help but felt being cheated. The same evening after we finished our meal, we re-checked the bill and found out one of the items we ordered were charged almost 3 times than they should. We should have known better since the original bill came to almost $600 per head which obviously didn't sound right in the first place. Of course this alone was not a crime per se - sometimes the restaurant Point-of-sale system made mistakes and I think we were partly responsible for not checking more carefully when the check was presented, but I do have a problem with how that was handled subsequently.

See the 63-degree egg on our check? On the menu it said $148 but we were charged a whopping $872 for 2 orders. That's an overcharge of almost $600 - or in other words, equivalent to 200 63-degree eggs I could have cooked myself and used to smack in their faces.
So, upon discovery of this problem, I immediately called the restaurant, left a message with the maitre d' to alert them, then called again the next morning (since I didn't get an answer back the previous evening), and then yet again before the dinner serving hour. I finally got hold of the busy Jeremy (after insisting repeatedly that he be on the phone this time or I would keep calling and jam their line), told him the situation and he promised he would look into it and called me back. Then two days later I called once again (obviously because I didn't get a callback as promised), and this time he acknowledged the billing glitch and I suggested he put back the over-charged amount in the original credit card we put in, which seemed to be the most sensible solution, and he agreed over the phone.

I thought this is the end of story - we could shake hands, apology accepted and move on - but you know what - for the next 2 weeks, nothing happened. Nothing appeared on the credit card. Not even a phone call or a single message. It took us yet another series of phone calls - this time in a less friendlier tone as our goodwill has since ran out - before they finally actually refunded us the amount they over-charged us for - 16 days after.

We know that Jeremy is a good friend of many of our friends and from what I heard he is as nice and professional as one would expect, so this is why I have been as patient as I could trying to see this episode resolved in a smoother manner behind the scene without turning this into shouting and screaming and name-dropping. Hence as you see, I posted this a bit late wanting a chance to re-write this into a happier story.

In all reasonable minds this is such a simple, straight-forward dispute that should have been resolved a long time ago, but I am absolutely bewildered at how poorly that is handled by the restaurant. We still wanted to believe this is an honest mistake not a premeditated scheme to rip unsuspected customers off, but that thought was slowly eroding away each day as the restaurant management allowed this to drag on. It's a regrettable incident but at least it has now been resolved.

Yes, I would probably still recommend this place for a casual meal and for cheeses to die for, but my advice? ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BILL! That's about as forgiving as I could say about this place given the circumstances. 

When? July 19 2014
Where? Upper Modern Bistro, 1-4 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Web: www.upper-bistro.com


LoveBites said...

Wow I have heard of places adding extra orders to the bill, but never have I heard of them increasing the price of something ...

gary s said...

Yeah I still don't understand how that happened, but after this was posted they actually called to apologize, plus we finally got our money back.
I took their words that it's a genuine mistake so to me, this is chapter closed.