The Christmas Dinner that wasn’t

My regular readers will know that I run a Stitch & Bitch group. We are an all age group of ex pat ladies who like to knit, crochet, cross stitch and other portable hand crafts. We are a sedate bunch. No big drinkers. Just a nice group of ladies. Well I think we are nice. We have over 70 people in our Facebook group but there are a core 15 ish of us that meet every week for stitching, coffee, lunch and a good chat.

We have some annual Bitch events. A trip to Denizli for wool shopping, a trip to Izmir for IKEA and our annual Christmas lunch. Last year we went to a lovely restaurant in Ovacik. It was fabulous…the owners Debbie and Sammy made it really festive and the food was delicious. Unfortunately this year they are in the process of relocating and don’t have a restaurant.

We asked around. Considering the large ex pat community here there are surprisingly few places, doing the traditional al Christmas lunch in December and many wanted 3 times what we paid last year. We finally settled on one that one of outer ladies recommended. The Sevi Classic. Last year people had walked out on Christmas cay but it is under new management and we were assured an excellent choice.

Here’s the menu

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He offered to do the same menu with one free drink for 35 Turkish lira….just over £10 to those of you trying to work it out in the UK. We booked a table for 14 and at the beginning of last week I messaged him again to ask whether he wanted us to choose our starters and desserts before the big day. His first response was “this Thursday?” ……now that should have worried me but he quickly confirmed that he did have the booking and I relaxed. He asked that we choose in advance so I contacted all my ladies and asked them to let me know what they wanted. All requests were sent in writing to the restaurant.

Thursday arrived and we met for our stitching session and the. Just before 2pm we jumped into assorted cars and made our way to the venue. We were a bit surprised that there were no decorations apart from one piece of tinsel and a lopsided fake tree. It was also freezing cold and their was rubbish on the floor. A trip to the ladies and it was obvious that they hadn’t been cleaned either. But we are an easygoing bunch so we went with the flow.

We took our seats or would have done if there had been enough. We pointed out that there weren’t enough and he quickly dragged another table up. There were no table cloths or condiments or table decorations. He commented to one of our church going ladies that he had thought she would come early and decorate as she’d decorated for the church carol service at the weekend.

Anyway we waited and after about 15 minutes he came along and told us the food was ready and asked us if we wanted drinks. Even though the first drink was free very few people ordered alcohol. There is a very strict zero tolerance drink driving law here and it is just not worth the risk. Drinks ordered we awaited our starters. They arrived. Very thick soup that was tasteless and semi edible, prawn cocktail made with frozen prawns with sauce tipped over them as they were served and dollops of Pate on tea plates with no garnish. All served with stale bread. The table he added had no cutlery….,we requested cutlery, butter and some music.

Off he went to get a lap top so that we could have some music…..we’d been there an hour by then. Most people left their starters and started to complain. The waitress apologised and said she would let him know. Then the main course arrived……. It was cold with hot sauce which I am loathe to describe as gravy. 3 thick slices of dry very over cooked Turkey…..hard to cut and almost impossible to chew….2 brussel sprouts, 1 broccoli floret and 3 slices of carrot all cooked to a mush, a very geneous helping of cold tinned peas, and 3 very small boiled potatoes. No stuffing, no roast potatoes and no cranberry sauce or condiments of any kind. they did bring salt and pepper when we asked. Our faces must have been pictures!

Most of us had gone without breakup fast in anticipation of this feast. One lady ate it all but she was starving. The rest of us left it and complained again. the waitress apologised and said he would come and speak to us. He didn’t …instead he spend 30 minutes chatting on the phone. The waitress went past us with a few bottles of red wine and shortly afterwards we could smell wine heating…… Luckily one of our group had bought some after eight mints so we divided them between us. 30 minutes the mulled wine appeared although as you may have worked out it wasn’t mulled it was boiled for 30 minutes as he’d obviously forgotten to make it. It was predictably u drinkable. Even the waitress tried it and agreed.

At this point some of our group were so hungry they announced they were leaving and going somewhere else for food. Leaving just 8 of us. Dessert arrived…….., Apple crumble…..more crumble than apple and strangely enough whole cornflakes as a topping. Then the cheesecake. Now chocolate cheesecake is one of my favourites and up until we got the starters I was really looking forward to it…..now I waited for 2 other people to try it, tasted it myself and unfortunately couldn’t find anywhere to spit it that would have left me looking like a lady so I had to swallow it…… I declined my portion.

No offer of tea or coffee and no sign of any mince pies…and pie this time the restaurant owner/Manager/Chef had disappeared. We waited for nearly an hour for him to return. We asked the waitress but she didn’t know where he had gone. So I told her we were leaving and to get him to contact me about paying.

He sent me a message later that. Igbo expression g surprise that we had left and saying that he understood there was a problem with the mulled wine….Ummm and the rest! He sort of apologised….well made excuses really…said he was on his own trying to do everything and that if I told anyone it would ruin his business and he would sue me. Nice man…..not. I offered to pay for drinks. He told me they were 250 lira. A blatant lie even if we had been drinking brandy and babycham through straws it wouldn’t have come to 250 lira. I again asked him for the real drinks bill so that we could pay it. I didn’t get a response just a message saying he was going to see his Solicitor and I was trying to ruin him.

I tactfully pointed out that offering a menu you couldn’t deliver was ruining his business and agai. Told him if he sent me the real drinks bill I would ask the ladies to pay. He again threatened legal action. I explained that I was perfectly happy to go to court that I had details of his menu and everything he had offered in writing, pictures of what we got and also his message with the doubled and some drinks bill.

More threats….. Some name calling and now he tells me that he is better thought of in the Community than we are and he is going to tell everyone we ran away without paying and we’ll see who people believe. I responded that’s fine…..yes let’s see. Another threat of his Solicitor arrived, He doesn’t know where I live and has one bill in my name for 1/2 a glass of wine and a lemonade. Am looking forward to his next message.

I am fair and usually very easy going and I believe that everyone deserves a chance. If he had apologised and tendered an accurate drinks bill I might have played nice. But he did none of those things. He is offering the same menu in Christmas Day for 90 lira. Now I was devastated that my lunch in the 12th December was ruined but if I had paid 90tl and been faced with that on
Christmas Day I would have been heartbroken and distraught. So although he has threatened to sue me for loss of his income if I tell anyone about it I have decided that in the Interests of expat solidarity that the story needs to be told.

I’m not going to name the restaurant again. I have done so above and his Christmas Menu is there for everyone to see. The restaurant is in Çaliş Beach. Book it if you want to but I have a clear conscience ……you have been warned.

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2 thoughts on “The Christmas Dinner that wasn’t

    • He has already started telling people we don’t pay our bills. Luckily we have never not paid a bill anywhere else and we have lots of messages of support. I have been told that we are not the first people to do the same.

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