They say if it’s too good to be true then it usually is. Well I learnt that lesson the hard way when my partner and I went out for lunch last Sunday. Best Western Plus, in Ikeja, is a lavish-looking hotel which I had noticed everyday since it was very close to where I currently live. So when I caught a glimpse of one of their ads online, showcasing their Christmas Buffet Special complete with Intercontinental and African cuisine, I was more than interested in giving it a go. After a long, stressful week this was going to be the perfect opportunity for us to unwind. But instead, we got wound up.
Now for the full review…
Parking: On arrival, my partner and I noticed that the parking space was full. We were directed to park outside by the hotel and the security staff were extremely pleasant (like they all are during festive periods, lol). The security staff were also well-dressed in smart uniform. Parking space within the premises looked like it could take about 10-15 cars comfortably…if you came early, of course.
Reception: We walked into the hotel and I told my partner to wait at the lobby whilst I went to make sure our reservation was in order. However, on getting to the restaurant I wasn’t welcomed by any staff at the entrance. I walked further into the restaurant and saw two members of staff buried in their chit-chat so I cleared my throat to get their attention. I asked if there were tables available for two and one of them gave me a positive confirmation. So far so good, I thought.
Dinner table: My partner and I were told we could sit at any free table we chose. The problem was that some of the ideal tables were yet to be cleared or had soiled tablecloths. In the end we had to sit at a six-seater table which happened to be free and tidy.
Waitress: It took approximately 20 minutes before a waitress came to take our drink order. In fact, we had to get the attention of the idle meeter-greeter before she sent a waitress our way. When I asked why it took so long to get served we were told, ‘I thought you would go and start eating first before ordering your drinks’. The complimentary glasses of wine which followed helped to compensate for the long wait.
Buffet: I only have two words to describe the cuisine – Nothing special. On the menu I saw online, there was quite an impressive line-up of dishes (over 20 of them) – a far cry from the display on the day. The dishes were not being replenished frequently or even at all. At some point even clean plates were not replenished on time as I noticed a small queue of hungry couples waiting by the buffet table. When my date and I reluctantly decided to go for the African dishes (which most Nigerians were already used to eating at home) we were surprised to discover that the Jollof rice was finished and never replenished until we left. We had to serve ourselves just chicken and eat with an eye fixed on the buffet area for any Jollof or fried rice deliveries. The fruit salad bowl wasn’t replenished often, and I had to sweet-talk the waitress into hustling for dessert from the kitchen (why? because there wasn’t any left on the buffet table!).
Other observations – Even though the buffet was from 12pm to 5.30pm, replenishment was not done often, and a lot of dishes looked scanty. Nearby dinner guests could be heard complaining about the menu choice (or the lack of it). A large birthday party group in the corner of the restaurant also had access to the buffet, which could explain the rapid depletion of dishes on display. However, management should have made adequate provision for everyone coming exclusively for the buffet. Pawpaw becomes soggy and unappetizing when it’s left to sit in fruit cocktail juices. A lot of tables had leftover pawpaw probably for that reason.
The highlight for us that afternoon was the apple juice served with ice. The only helpful staff in the restaurant was the waitress (whom I tipped afterwards). Though, when she asked us to drop by in future, my partner gave her a blatant NO. Guests should be treated like kings and queens when going to restaurants. Service is key and the major determinant of whether or not customers will return.
Overall rating: 1/5