I am partial to visiting urbanspoon before I head to a place to get a feel for other people’s experiences there. Sometimes this perhaps isn’t the best idea because it can potentially skew your opinion before you’ve even arrived. Such was the case when I lined up a catch up dinner with friends at Botanica Bar and Bistro in Innaloo. I couldn’t say that recent comments were glowing. Several folks had noted a below average experience but I was keen to be proven wrong.
Our group of 3 had made a booking for 6pm and on arriving we were shown to one of the tables on the raised side level overlooking the main dining section. We were brought menus and a bottle of water and pondered what to order. I was leaning towards a steak sandwich – your standard pub fare and a good excuse to eat some chips but I noticed another table being delivered a chicken parmigiana and it occurred to me I’d never had one. I was still umming and ahhing what to have when the waitress returned to take our order. So I asked her – should I go with the steak sanga or the chicken parm? The waitress then informed us that it was actually chicken parmy special night and they (along with chilli mussels) were only $10. That made the decision for me and it was chook for me and a glass of riesling. Around the table there was also a steak sandwich and some of the chilli mussels on order.
Both the drinks and our meals arrived fairly swiftly, which was fine by me as I’d come straight from work and was famished. A very generous plate arrived with a decent stack of chips, some salad and a slab of chicken with an abundance of melted cheese. I eagerly launched into my meal.
As I sliced into the chicken it looked good, fairly plump and while the tomato sauce was fairly ordinary in the flavour stakes, it was pleasant enough. I found the amount of cheese a bit much for my liking though, so after sampling it in my first bite I scraped the rest off. It was a lot of cheese.
After working my way through the large piece of chicken I was feeling fairly comfortable and found the salad on the side a refreshing finish. Around the table the review for the steak sandwich was very positive and apparently the chilli mussels were fine but perhaps could have been a little more plentiful size wise. Or alternatively perhaps they could have thrown in a few more slices of bread on the side.
So our meals had been fine. I thought my chicken parm was quite the bargain and tasted decent enough, but I wouldn’t rush back. The reason? Well we all finished our meals and our drinks and continued to chat and it would have been another 20 minutes or so after we’d finished that our plates were cleared, no big drama. But then another 20 minutes passed and we weren’t asked if we fancied dessert or more drinks. We could see staff floating to and from other tables but it felt like we were invisible. It was a little frustrating, because we were three ladies who probably would have said yes to a piece of cake, who doesn’t love cake?
In the end we decided we’d just wander to the counter and settle our bill. The whole experience really didn’t endear the place to me. I wouldn’t say I’m generally overly critical of a place, but they really did leave a lot of be desired in terms of paying attention to their patrons. I’d wanted the criticism on urbanspoon to be wrong but they were pretty much bang on. There are plenty of pubs around town where you’ll find much better service and probably an equally nice if not better chicken parm. I’m actually now on the hunt. Where can your favourite Perth Parmigiana be found?