I just wrote another restaurant review today, now as a chef who is now had almost four decades experience that is not uncommon I am now regularly asked to review restaurants and hotels for corporations and owners.
This time unfortunately I was writing out of the disgust, I experienced last night when Banjara restaurant lied about wheelchair accessibility didn’t tell us they had moved when we booked causing us to wander aimlessly in the east village like dog owners calling for lassie to come home until we finally found them.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Five years ago Ella booked my birthday at Atlas vegan restaurant in the east village, they stated they were wheelchair accessible however when we got there the entire restaurant is less than 20 feet wide from outside wall to the next business so when we arrived he yelled for everyone to pick up their tables so I could roll underneath ,we turned and left with our safety in tact.
That night we rolled to sixth and first and found Banjara indian restaurant on the corner of 1st and 6th, and they had a real cement poured disabled accessible wheelchair ramp and when we entered the room it was wonderful, the staff were elegant and the food was original and true to the region of india the owners hailed from.
We were instantly in love and immediately became regulars ,every birthday ,anniversary and farewell dinner was held at the Banjara they started to know us by name and when I would call .
Last week I once again rang them to arrange Ellas birthday dinner, the phonecall went liek this “oh yes vayner welcome, table for two wheelchair accessible see you then”
We arrived at their address to find they had moved, a fact they had left out of the phonecall so as I said before we rolled the east village for 30 minutes until they finally answered their phone, They had moved to 100 second ave, a address we had rolled past twice already.
We rolled back, on the corner was a disgusting bodega obviously missed by the health department since gentlemen jim was mayor of new York and subay rides were a quarter. Next to that was an outside ATM kiosk someone many years ago had smashed with a sledge hammer and no one had bothered to move it, and there was a cardboard white sign one foot by six inched with the words BANJARA YES WERE HERE!
Wow! no wonder we couldn’t find them maybe they didn’t want to be found? outside was a 10ft square of kmart plastic outdoor furniture the kind pre schools use because it is indestructible and cheap with colored cut plastic table cloths, and the secondhand street barrier was advertising the name of some long since gone Italian restaurant.
We entered a narrow doorway and there was a sub street level grotto more at home in an Tokyo Ginza karaoke club, with a mezzanine with ceiling bricks the color of the pride flag. Obviously when they took it over they changed nothing they simply went to “CHEAP HINDU STATUES ARE US” GLUED SOME TO THE WALL AND STOOD FOUR FOOT HIGH CHESS PIECE LIKE STATUES AROUND THE WALL AND STOOD THE REST IN A CORNER, like a waiting room for bad furniture.
When we entered I told them no one had told us they HAd moved and they didn’t see it was a problem, we told them we had a birthday table booked that’s wheelchair accessible and we arrive here and the dining room is down a staircase and all the tables are booths?
A screaming women in a green sari said “YES DOWN THERE WHEELCHAIR OK” I wheeled to the edge and showed her and she repeated “YES DOWN THERE OK” I told her wheels don’t do stairs she replied “NOT RAINING TOO MUCH YOU SIT OUTSIDE OK?”
I showed her it was raining torrentially, as we had rolled in the very narrow door we noticed a table actually in the doorway? She told us sit there? Yes a wheelchair two humans and a service dog?(by the way she spent the first ten minutes screaming no dog) we showed her everyone would kick the dog the chair and the birthday girl.
So then she pointed to what I thought was just the front window, a 4 ft wide space in a narrow slot next to the back of the bar between the bar and the front glass, I thought when I rolled in it was simply a storage area?
We showed them to get in we would hit my head on the bar and ella had to turn sideways, but they insisted and it was too late to go somewhere else.
As I rolled into the dog box of a corner one of the stashed statues fell and shook the whole front glass almost breaking it. As we finally got to the table Ella was sitting under a precariously hung 50 inch flat screen over her head. The glass storage for the bar at her right shoulder, a mold covered box of pre wrapped cutlery behind her along with a stack of chairs as a back rest happy birthday Ella.
We ordered vegan samosas and a plate of vegan vegetable fritters for starters and a bottle of pelegrino, and for mains we chose four vegan dishes all diferent flavor palates and vegetable bases and basamati rice and a bottle of Italian wine how bad could it be?
The down side of being a chef of so many years experience, is you can smell food and whether it’s burnt from the next zip code, as our starters left the kitchen all I could smell was bbq briquettes not a good start to the evening. As it arrived the samosas were from a packet and flavorless, the veggie fritters were so cremated ,so charcoal , so burnt they crumbled to the touch and the ones that were not obvious the chef had turned them over so the burn was on the bottom in a cheap attempt to hide his incompetence it was sent back.
While we waited I rolled to the clearly marked disabled toilet, I opened the door and started to rolled in someone elses diahorrea was on the outside of the bowl, and my chair still half out in the restaurant could not move in the door it couldn’t close and the manager was so proud of it?
The roll back meant crunching down in my chair to fit under the bar, and I noticed the errant statue was till fallen against the front window and the replacement cisco wholesale Indian food arrived it was frozen in the middle?
We sent it back the only thing good so far was the pelegrino water, the mains arrived the table was 2ft square it had a candle and fake flowers so they were trying to fit three brass pots, two 8inch dinner plates, a 8 inch rice plate(and btw they had changed real indian rice for some cisco wholsale low cost replacement and it was burnt?) a wine bottle and 2 glasses.
The space we were jammed into was so small they hand our food over the bar or over my shoulder and I had to serve ella and myself, because three people didn’t fit in the front window?
Well we could have just ordered colors instaed of actual food because all three dishes were the same color, the same smell and the same no flavor.
It reminded me of the futuristic movies where everyone eats white paste out of a tube? But the wine was good, so far in an indian restaurant the only thing not screwed up was the pelegrino water and the wine from Tuscany both something they had nothing to do with, we gave up and asked for the bill.
All of a sudden as if it couldn’t get worse, a man in a cheap suit was actually standing 4 feet away behind the bar yelling into the phone he couldn’t pay the supplier on the other end the restaurant had no money? Everyone in the restaurant heard him.
The annoying screamer in the green sari from our first moments appeared, and started screaming about ladies with wheels, dog and food sent back. So mr “we can’t pay bills we have no money” suddenly was standing behind my shoulder asking what was wrong?
We told him of the charcoal followed by the culinary ice age, we showed him the bland soup that passed for masal dahl and something that was meant to be spinach and something meant to be tomato but they were all artificial orange with an oil slick on top. I told him of his petrie dish fake wheelchair toilet and he only protested the toilet and told me I was wrong. So I rolled over and opened the door and showed him the modern art that was faeces on the bowl and how only half a chair fit in yet he still proclaimed it as wonder of the world. We rolled back to the kennel that was our table. He told us he was out shopping and if he was there it wouldn’t have happened, He stated his staff were useless that they didn’t care and were untrustworthy, and after telling me his kitchen and his staff sucked he asked us to comeback again and took only the charcoal off the bill.
Sorry Banjara I love my dog so I wouldn’t even send a dog there, you moved, That’s ok but the bad part is you left everything that was good at the old address.The worst part is you went from wheelchair accessible and respectful to insulting and bargain basement, and you broke my Ellas heart by ruining her birthday.You see everything else can be fixed and forgiven, but never that never forgive ,never forget for she is my perfect jewel, my love my savior my bashaert and she will never get that birthday back.
So no we will not only never be back, we will make it our goal to keep everyone else away.