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Reasons to say no to food festivals

Savvy diners have long realised food festivals, such as the ongoing Nairobi Restuarant Week, which comes to a close on February 4, aren’t a particularly stellar deal. Wairimu Nyingi tells you why

1. Portions

For the uninitiated, restuarant week and food festivals are the time to hit scores of establishments, from hip new eateries to fine dining. What they don’t realise is that it is not a win.

While you’ll pay an incredibly lower price for the experience, portions are usually small, as many who have graced such festivals can attest, and have complained time and again. A lot of the time, the entrées and salads are reduced to half, had you visited the same establishment at an ordinary day.

2. Limited menu

Sure, paying Sh1,750 for a three-course meal at a fine dining restaurant is a deal. I mean, c’mon, when else will you get to eat at such an establishment and not break the bank? What they don’t tell you is that you often have to order from a limited menu.

The flexibility that comes with ordering on a normal day is gone, and sadly, you have to stick to the special menus or cough up more by opting to go with the regular menu.

3. Overcrowding

From lack of sitting space to queues — if you fail to reserve, be ready to wait in line. When food fests roll around, foodies groan as that means their favourite eats are overcrowded with eager newbies. Sometimes, you’re made to leave the table immediately after the meal to make room for other guests.

4. Time

A meal that would normally take the kitchen 10 minutes to whip up takes three times longer. The kitchen is usually overwhelmed with back to back orders and this leads to long wait periods, which can annoy a restaurant’s best customers. Another case is where a restuarant offers a three-course meal during lunch — and in all honesty, that’s an instant nap.

5. Poor service

It’s a chain reaction really — with overcrowding and back-to-back orders, the waitstaff will probably be more harried. 6. Quality As I stated earlier, it is a series of events, and what it comes down to is poor quality. Food tends to be sub standard. Cheaper types of fish, or meats like chicken breast, that may not appear on the standard menu show up as a way for establishments to save money with the “special” Restaurant Week menus.

7. Is it really pocket friendly?

Food festivals at best seem to be a good excuse to try a new place and maybe save some cash. But what if you aren’t saving? The value of your Restaurant Week meal can be difficult to calculate because so many of the items on the special menus are not on the regular one, where you could see their normal prices. Several establishments, in fact, feature absolutely nothing from their regular menu during Restaurant Week, while others only feature their very cheapest entrées.

8. Sometimes, it’s all hype

Not all establishments live up to the hype, and this often leaves customers bitter and unsatisfied. Some turn out to be a rip-off, take a case where my main course at a fine dining restaurant turned out to be two small ribs and a laughable salad.

9. Risk of contamination

You’re run a higher chance of picking up a stomach bug during food festivals than on a normal day. This is because the kitchen is overwhelmed with orders and thus they may not be as thorough as they normally would be in the food preparation process.

10. It’s bad for restuarants

A lot of these bad experiences put off prospective customers. They paint restuarants in bad light, even though the experiences will undoubtedly differ if the visit falls on a regular day.

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