Myself and a friend decided to have lunch at the Gravity Lounge, at the United Centre at the corner of Camp and Regent Streets in Georgetown on Friday, May 30. We arrived at Gravity at 11.30am and ordered two drinks. After 30 minutes we asked the waitress why it was taking so long to get two uncomplicated drinks, when the walk to the bar is no more than 15 seconds. The explanation was that a party had been held at Gravity the previous night and they had run out of ice. Is ice in that short supply around Georgetown? Could they not have gone to the Ice House or some other supplier of ice in the morning? Was there not even a freezer on site to make a few trays of ice – remember this is just for two drinks.
Next we went to the buffet for our lunch. First we saw soup, and we enquired about what type of soup it was. The waitress there answered “eel soup.” I was rather surprised and asked whether she was sure this was eel soup? She responded, “Yes, cow eel soup”! I informed her that neither myself nor my friend ate beef, and her priceless response was, “Is na beef, is cow eel; it pun the outside, so it na beef.”
Next was lasagne, which I opted for, but the waitress interrupted, saying, “Now, da is beef!” So now, two items down, and I apprehensively moved to see what other surprises lay ahead. I spotted what appeared to be another soup, but looked more like a broth, as it was very watery looking. It was watered down dhal served with rice, of course, and the next platter contained salt fish. Other dishes included barbecued chicken although I must add that boiling a few chicken legs and throwing a bottle of barbecue sauce does not constitute a barbeque. The ubiquitous fried rice with a handful of garnish was also present. The salad platter had so minute a quantity of salad that it would scarcely do for one person. The desserts were no surprise: baked custard, diced pineapple and diced watermelon.
For myself and friend, the privilege of having two drinks, and eating watery dhal and rice and salt fish came at a cost $7,500. I thought that we could have gone anywhere else and got better quality food and service.
Places like Gravity have to decide whether they are a cookshop or a proper restaurant. Simply putting labels on the food, so customers would know what is being served, would help. In a culturally diverse country such as ours, I would have thought that this would have been the norm. Something as simple as lasagne can be made with minced beef, pork, chicken, soya and vegetables. I am in no way belittling dhal and rice and salt fish, which I enjoy very much, but at an eatery which attempts to portray an image of sophistication and style, I would have expected better trained staff and a better quality of food.
I do recall reading in the Stabroek News dated July 26, 2013 that “Acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali hailed the investment by the local company United Investment Trading, which he said could blaze a trail for ‘fine dining’ in Guyana and open new doors to the country’s tourism industry.” I know we can do better than this; the service industry has to focus on quality and be consistent with standards. I would, however, like to thank Gravity for a thoroughly amusing lunch, ‘eel soup’ and all.
We sent a copy of this letter to the Gravity Lounge for any comment they might wish to make, and received the following response from Mr Navin Singh, the General Manager:
“The Management of the Gravity Lounge hereby offers our sincere apology to the customer if that was indeed her experience. As a relatively new business, we continue to face challenges, but those challenges are not being ignored. They are being addressed constantly, especially when it comes to the training of our staff.
“We continue to aim to raise the standard and quality of our service to the Guyanese public. Gravity Lounge offers a Lunch Buffet, but in addition to that buffet, there are several other dishes on our menu that would cater to vegetarians or customers wishing to enjoy something other than the local cuisine. That should have been explained to the customer.
“Again, our apologies to the customer and we do hope that her next visit will be a much better one as we strive to not only improve the ambience that we offer, but also the quality of our food and service.”