It's Friday (hey!) and you're ready to swing. You pick up the girls and hit the party saying, ‘tonight, it's all right’ – if you catch my drift.
This was the scene set last week at my girlfriends' double birthday party. They of course asked me for a few places I would recommend, as they had been trying to figure out where to go for a dinner befitting of the affair.
Eventually, they decided on Tapas. Why? We had been there before, the sangrias were okay, the ambience was nice, there was a Happy Hour (tres important for any birthday celebration, if we're being honest) and, they had a DJ on the night required. They went ahead and made the booking.
MORE THAN WE PLANNED FOR
When we showed up, of course, there were a couple of people who had not initially confirmed their booking, but showed up anyway – thus our numbers swelled from 15 to 21.
At this point the staff informed us that there were not enough seats for all of us to sit, and they could not get another table, as multiple tables were reserved.
And so, a number of our party stood around for about 25 minutes waiting for seating, as we alternated shifts standing with them – a party isn't really a party if everyone isn't at the party, is it? Which is what prevented me from saying that another half of the people should just move to another location.
This aside, as I understand that there were no seats and the manager, Andrew, was doing his absolute best to accommodate us, it didn't feel celebratory by the end of the meal, simply because of a delicate seating situation.
When people wanted to leave, the bill was brought to me, the designated human calculator of the night, and I was to tell everyone how much to pay. This was the nail on the coffin for me. The straw that broke the camel's back, if you will. What is it with Tapas and its affiliates and splitting taxes and food?
SPLITTING THE BILL
When I say Tapas and affiliates, I mean Artcaffe and Urban Gourmet. It's the most annoying bill in the world, especially among a party of 25 people. Can you imagine looking at a bill with loose decimals thrown all over it and somehow magically calculating the extra 16% that your meal items require you to add on top? Or is one supposed to memorise the menu as they make their food selection?
I think I spent more time going back and forth with the (super patient) waitress, the menu and the specials board trying to figure out which figures were what and belonged to who, instead of actually sitting at the birthday meal – seeing as some of the things we ordered were not even on the menu.
You see, how the bill comes, is food is divided into food and beverage, and then the VAT is put as a separate total. Meaning, something that is, say, Sh250 on the normal menu, is documented as Sh211 on the bill tally, and so you don't know what the total is because they've lumped the whole sum together.
I have repeatedly asked on different occasions why these restaurants do this, and really, no answer has been sufficient for me. But that, topped with the seating problem, and the fact that our food took ages to show (which, I am told, is something I should have known from being in foodie groups) is ruling out Tapas for me.
If the reason the bill is like this is because it makes it easier for the company to deal with KRA, why is that problem passed on to the customer instead of the company tax guy? And how do literally all the other restaurants manage without giving the customer this burden?
It's ludicrous to me that we're still doing this silliness in 2018. And 2018 is over!
Wondering where to get the 411 on what's happening in and around Nairobi's foodie scene? There's a lot of places you could go, but here's where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.