Some of you may have been wondering why I rarely post about Guam considering that I have been a resident of this island for over a year and a half (not including the one year I spent here as an exchange student/culinary intern). A year into blogging, I only have 3 published posts that’s related to Guam. And this isn’t because I have nothing to write about. I have a few articles that are under development and a bunch of other ideas mostly to promote our beautiful island. Also, my family and I frequently dine out and I could publish weekly reviews of Guam’s restaurants but I never felt the urgent desire to write about it. That is until an extremely good experience or a horrible one compels me to do so. Unfortunately tonight, it’s the latter.
One main difference about Guam and Manila (where I grew up) is that during the holiday season, malls and restaurants in the Philippines see it as an excellent opportunity to drive sales and you won’t see a single restaurant that’s closed on Christmas Day. Here on Guam, malls are closed and so are most restaurants except for those inside the hotels and are located in the Pleasure District (main tourist area). My husband and I, wanting to deviate from our normal restaurant choices, decided to try Sea Grill Restaurant Guam for our Christmas dinner.
I had high hopes for this dinner. It was actually my third time dining at Sea Grill, although the first two was when I was an exchange student 7 years ago. My husband had also been looking forward since it’ll be his first time to try this restaurant.
Our evening started out great despite the heavy downpour. We arrived around 6 PM and even without reservations, we were promptly seated at a table on the second floor.
My daughter was pleased with the crayons and coloring page that was handed to her by the nice server who walked us to our table and discussed the menu.
This was turning out to be a great evening, the restaurant’s ambiance is very nice and we were seated at a table with a great view of Tumon.
And then came our actual server for the evening (who shall remain nameless). To his credit, he was nice and respectful enough when he talks to us. But that doesn’t automatically translate to great service, does it?
We first ordered a grilled cheese sandwich for our child while we decide on what to order.
Sea Grill has a regular menu, set menu and what they call Chef’s Market where you can pick your meat and seafood from the display (market-style) and have the chef cook it however way you want.
We couldn’t decide on what to get because it all seemed delicious so we first ordered the Asian Chicken Salad and soup of the day to start our dinner. We were told that the soup of the day was Turkey Gravy (say what?!) so yup, cancel that please and give us the Island Style Coconut Seafood Chowder (sounds yummy!) instead.
In hindsight, we probably should have asked what was on the Turkey Gravy (soup?) or the server should have offered to describe it.
Then came my daughter’s food, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
I’m sorry to say but that’s the saddest grilled cheese sandwich I have ever seen in my life. Even if it’s just a kid’s meal, it seriously lacked imagination and I can make a better version of it at home.
We then ordered our main entrees, Seafood Crusted Salmon for me and Grilled Jumbo Prawns for my husband. And this was when the terrible service began.
Or should I say no service happened?
But first, let’s talk about food.
The Asian Chicken Salad was just okay. It could have been better had it not been overdressed.
The salmon was cooked just the way I like it so I’m actually happy about this. I’m not a big fan of chunky mashed potatoes but it actually goes well with the salmon. The avocado was also a nice touch. Salmon + Avocado on my plate will always be welcomed with pleasure.
I wasn’t able to try much of my husband’s dish but he was okay with it. Nothing spectacular to be honest because it’s the usual type of grilled prawn dish you can have in most hotels on the island.
The best part of our meal? The chocolate milkshake. Seriously though I enjoyed this milkshake the most! It’s so creamy and just the perfect consistency.
Now let’s talk about the service.
Whenever we eat out, I rate every part of the meal from ambiance, to food and service. This dinner quickly went from 5 stars to 2, knocking down points for every disappointment we experienced.
Let me count the ways:
- We did not receive our soup order. I was looking forward to this and thought that my daughter would like it but sorry, our server forgot to put it the order.
- It took 20 minutes for them to give us the salad. Other guests who came in after we received their orders first. Five minutes later we received our main entrees. I wished they had served the salad much earlier but hey, still no biggie.
- Service was non-existent from this point on. My husband asked for water and our server, even though he said yes, never came back to give us water but took the order of the people seated next to us instead.
- After about 10 minutes we had to ask another server for the water.
- Our server never checked on us. We always had to get his attention (which was hard to begin with because we never see him near our table) if we want something and then he disappears for a while.
- We also had to ask another waiter for the free ice cream that came with my child’s meal, something that our server didn’t mention or even offered to us (I only knew that it was included because I read it on the menu).
- We saw the manager/supervisor, well I assume he is a supervisor because he is dressed differently and was checking on each of the tables (except ours). Wish he had asked us how was the service we received so far.
- And then we had to ask another server again for our bill. I saw him gave the check to our server because yes, that should be his job.
- Our server gave us the paper receipt and left the table. I was under the impression that I had to take the paper receipt down to the reception because it wasn’t in a check holder (I thought this was a fine dining restaurant) and we were not given instructions whatsoever.
- My husband had to get his attention again and all he can say was a quick I’m sorry. Also asked him to wrap up my daughter’s food.
- At this point, we were just so pissed off and trying hard not let it affect our evening but having to call the attention of the server for things he should have done in the first place just annoyed the hell out of us.
When he came to give me our change, I was already pissed off that I didn’t have the energy anymore to ask where my daughter’s food was. I think judging by his actions this evening, that food is lost somewhere in the kitchen or already down the garbage.
I just stormed off to the reception area hoping to speak to a manager. I didn’t even get to that point because I was so mad and hearing a staff apologize to me without even asking me what the issue was sounded insincere and a way to dismiss me. It was too frustrating and I was very upset because our dinner was ruined. We left the restaurant very unhappy and disappointed.
Wow, that was quite a long rant. Truth be told, when I started this blog I promised myself that I would avoid posting about negative experiences (even during my travels) but I strongly felt the need to do this. I know that our reasons may be silly (honestly, I have a few more to add to the list) and of no big deal to most but to me and my husband who was looking forward to a great dinner, on Christmas day no less, have felt like we would have received better service from a fast food joint.
How can we be not disappointed? My husband and I are products of the hotel and restaurant industry as well and the only type of work I have ever done is as a customer service professional. Maybe I have high standards but the service that we received is far from even reaching the standard. We paid good money and expected good food and great service. Throughout the evening, my husband and I tried convincing each other that everything was great and that maybe they were just short-staffed or too busy downstairs, we were basically making excuses for their lack of service. We both tried to shrug off the disappointment so that the evening is not ruined but in the end, we were just so fed up and couldn’t just let it go without letting anyone know how disappointed we were. We left the restaurant feeling like second rate customers.
On a positive note, my husband said that the experience taught him a lot about customer service. There are some valuable realizations that he can definitely apply to his current job.
I am thinking that maybe we came in and just got the wrong server, or maybe he was having an off day. Yes, I’m still making excuses for them. But the damage is done and we were just so dissatisfied with the overall experience. Personally, I won’t be coming back to Sea Grill even if you pay me. But that’s just me. I am neither recommending this restaurant or discouraging you to dine here because that will always be your choice. And each experience will always be different. Dine at your own risk.
UPDATE 12/26: Restaurant management reached out to me after I left a review on their Facebook page. I was offered a $100 dining certificate which I politely declined. I did not write this review (or the one on the FB page) to get free food or anything but instead to just simply vent my disappointment. Still not changing my mind about never eating there again.
Now, let’s move on to our regular wanderlust programming, shall we?