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'The highs and lows of JBR Walk' - By Rebecca Wicks

I’m loving being able to skip across the bridge to JBR Walk. It’s one of my favourite places in the city lately � always something going on, always somewhere to sit and watch the world go by; kids screaming, couple’s strolling, dog-walkers poop-scooping. It’s turning into a bit of a local hang-out, and has anyone seen the huge crane with a dinner table hanging off it, next to the Hilton? Dinner In The Sky, it’s called. I was supposed to eat up there last week but due to my move I had to pass on the invitation, and seeing it last night I was actually quite glad. The thing was practically swinging! My friend said you can’t hear the traffic up there, but you can hear the swoosh of the sea on the shore. Great. Sea-sickness, altitude sickness and no floor to put your feet on? My friend said it was actually really good, and they bring you down to the ground after every course so if you really don’t like it, I guess you can hop off after your starter, but still...

Last night we decided to try a more grounded dining establishment. There are tons to choose from round there and it still seems like a new place opens every week. It’s like a pick-n-mix of foodie delights, and although JBR doesn’t quite have the fancy gourmet treats its residents were supposedly promised (tut tut � they still don’t have a gym either!), it’s not all Pizza Express and Subway. We decided on a place called Scuzzi, because it had the pivotal �something for everyone’, including sushi and pizza. Anywhere that serves sushi and pizza can NOT be ignored, right? Well...

Ugh. I don’t like to complain, but seeing as I’ve eaten in quite a lot of Dubai’s restaurants and written well-deserved rave reviews about most of them, I feel as though I should be honest about the bad stuff, too. And Scuzzi is pretty diabolical. It’s not the food, the food is actually pretty good, but to be quite frank, everything else was awful. Perhaps I expected too much from the sushi/pizza place but for my first foray onto the Walk as a fully-fledged rent-paying marina resident, I wanted better. Dammit, I lived in TECOM for a whole year � I deserved better (*stomps foot in true expat brat style).

To start with, they brought the wrong order (gasp!) But not just the wrong order � my friend’s spaghetti turned up on the SAME plate as my grilled salmon. Now� in some places, like Italian restaurants frequented by dogs in Disney movies, diners may eat from the same plate, but one would hope not here, in the real world (if Dubai can be classed as such). Realising their mistake, they shuffled it off to the kitchen and eventually reappeared with two plates, but my salmon was still missing an essential item.

“Where is my baked potato?”
“Sorry ma’am, we changed the menu, the salmon (which costs 68 dhs by the way) doesn’t come with a potato now, just the vegetables”
“But� your menu says baked potato”
“We changed it”
“Then why isn’t it crossed off? Why didn’t someone tell me when I ordered?” (BLANK STARE)
“Sorry ma’am" (LOOK OF EXPECTANCE)
"We’ll make you one”
“But I don’t want... oh ok, fine”

Fifteen minutes later, when I’d almost finished my salmon, a semi-cooked, sliced baked potato arrived at my side. Gee, thanks. Recognising that we were close to becoming unsatisfied customers, a member of staff kindly offered us complimentary coffee. Sighing and thinking what a decent gesture that was, I sucked it up, thanked him and ordered a latte. And then waited. For an hour. Until it got to 10pm.

“Excuse me, we’re still waiting for a complimentary coffee?”
“Oh�. er�.”
“Your colleague offered it free (because of the bad service)?”
“Oh� right� um�” (shuffles off).

Twenty minutes later, still no coffee. But magically, the bill arrived without us even having to ask for it. A hint perhaps, that we had outstayed our welcome?

We called the manager and explained our dilemma, dealing with what seemed like resentment towards our complaint until he was forced to acknowledge that yes, his staff were perhaps a little� misinformed. As we were chatting, the waiter who had initially offered us the free coffee came over and flat-out denied to his manager that we had ordered anything at all. Lovely.

We were offered the coffee again, plus a complimentary dessert, but it was late, we were tired and quite clearly unwilling to sit there a second longer; a manager/waiter/customer battle brewing in the shadows of a Scuzzi umbrella. Paying the full bill (yes, the whole lot - suckers) we reached the end of our ordeal a little wiser and sloped off into the night, dejected. As much as I’m loving JBR Walk on my doorstep, perhaps I won’t be mixing pizza and sushi again quite so readily. Something tells me a dinner dangling in the sky might not have been quite so traumatizing.

Posted: 30 April 2009

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