“ Address: 7 Dane Court / Shopping Centre / Weaver Avenue / Rainhill / Prescot / Merseyside / L35 4LU / England „
I went to Blue Mango's sunday buffet and I have honestly never been treated so badly by a restaurant before. When we arrived it was a ghost town, which should have sent alarm bells ringing but I decided to give them a chance. The food was mediocre to say the least and very limited choice for a buffet. After finishing our first plate I asked the waiter if we could have clean plates and was promptly told no that I would have to use the same plate if I wanted to return to the buffet. I didn't like the korma that I had on my first plate enough to see it mixed in with another food so I decided not to get anything else. We got up and left and paid a total of £28 for two plates of watery food, two popadums, a glass of juice, a glass of water and a rude waiter. I complained to the manager, was laughed at and told "You can't please everyone". Who can blame him for laughing really, when I'd just forked over £28 for cheap bland food and poor service.
I love a good curry, so am always on the lookout for a good curry restaurant. So, when a friend suggested a group of us went to The Blue Mango to celebrate his birthday, I was happy to go along. It certainly turned into an occasion I won't forget in a hurry.
The Blue Mango is probably not the sort of place you would necessarily venture into if someone didn't tell you about it. It is located on the edge of a car park in a rather run down shopping precinct in the middle of the small village of Rainhill in Merseyside. There are two entrances. One at least makes an effort to look respectable with lots of glass and welcoming lights. Approach it from the other side, though, and you enter via a dark and dingy fire escape, past lots of 60s concrete buildings. Not terribly confidence inspiring!
Once inside, things get better. The restaurant itself is very light and airy. A small bar runs down one side of the restaurant, whilst the rest of the room is filled with tables. The restaurant is actually quite small, so not all that many people can be accommodated at once, but the tables are well spaced, so you don't feel like you are sitting on top of other diners. However, unless you book or arrive early in the evening, you can often find yourself waiting for a table. Certainly, we went on a Saturday night and the area around the bar became very overcrowded with people waiting for a table. This undoubtedly contributed towards the less than satisfactory service we received.
One thing we can have no complains over is the quality of the food, which was very tasty and appropriately hot (or not) depending on the type of dish you ordered. Sometimes you go to an Indian restaurant and it's difficult to tell the difference between, say, madras and korma, which can be disappointing. The curry at The Blue Mango, though, got it spot on for my taste.
The vegetable vindaloo I ordered was packed with many different types of vegetables. These were very well cooked - still slightly crunchy to the taste, as they should be. The only slight disappointment was that they were quite thinly sliced, whereas I prefer chunkier vegetables, but I guess that's very much a matter of taste.
The rice was tasty and the portions were just about right; large enough for the amount of curry, without you ending up with tons left over at the end. We ordered several different types of rice and you could definitely tell the difference in the way they had been cooked.
Where the Blue Mango really let itself down was with the service, and these issues started early and carried on throughout the meal.
As we a larger party (around 14), we naturally arrived in stages. The early (i.e. on time!) arrivals made our way to the bar to get a drink while we waited. Whilst trying to order drinks we were pounced on at least 5 times by waiters demanding to know had we booked, what were we waiting for, how many were in the party and so on. It was hardly the warmest of welcomes. This was compounded by their refusal to accept credit cards for anything less than £12. In fact, we got the distinct impression that by not all turning up together we were a bit of a nuisance and getting in their way.
Things didn't improve once we moved to our table. Although we had pre-ordered all our food (at their request), service was very slow. We waited around 15 minutes before they brought out the poppadums with a further delay of 20-25 minutes between finishing the poppadum and the serving of the main dishes. Given subsequent events the slowness of the service was particularly strange.
The waiters were also too efficient, getting in the way of actually eating! They were constantly removing any dishes the instant they thought they were finished with and on a couple of occasions tried to remove them before they were empty. We had ordered Nan bread to mop up the juice of the curry, only to find when we came to do so that our curry bowls had already made it back to the safety of the kitchen! It's one thing to be efficient in clearing away dishes, it's quite another to take them away before the customer is finished.
Equally annoying was the waiters' habit of cleaning the table between courses. Again, this efficiency is something I'd normally applaud, but the way it was done made it clear that we were rather getting in their way. They would reach over you to remove dishes, nudge you out of the way while they tried to reach some crumbs in the middle of the table, reach over people who were still trying to eat to retrieve a rogue dish. You got the distinct impression that they'd have liked us to go in, order, pay and leave without actually sitting down or eating any food. It would certainly have made their job much easier, which appeared to be their main concern. Customer comfort and customer service were way down their list.
Once we had finished our main dishes, the waiter brought us the sweets menu and a small number decided to have a pudding. By this time, the restaurant was very busy and we no waiter came near us for almost 15 minutes. Eventually, a passing waiter came along and removed the menus, but didn't take our order. Around five minutes later, we grabbed a passing waiter and asked to order some sweets. He rushed past and very rudely, informed us "No. No puddings. Too busy." Again, not exactly the best example of good customer service.
They clearly wanted rid of us and came back and slammed the bill on our table asking (rather optimistically) whether we had we enjoyed our meal. At this point, one of our party bravely complained we had wanted to order some sweets and expressed our displeasure at the way we had been treated. At this point, the waiters decided to have an argument amongst themselves (in full view of the restaurant!); eventually deciding we could have dessert after all. These were ordered and, a few minutes later served, very ungraciously. Two of them proved to be almost inedible - still frozen solid to the point that they were actually bending the spoon when you tried to get any to eat.
All the time the puddings were being eaten, various waiters (and particularly the manager) stood there glaring at us, trying to make us feel very uncomfortable and intimidate us into leaving.
Eventually, we paid our bill and left; needless to say we didn't leave a tip. It's a shame the staff at The Blue Mango proved to be so unfriendly. The quality of their food is very good indeed, but on the strength of this visit, their front of house staff need a lot of re-training and this experience has definitely put me off returning.
7 Dane Court
Tel: 0151 493 2875
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