Shanghaiist wants to like City Diner. We really do! The food, when it comes, is excellent—miles ahead of Moon River, and just like we would eat at home. The coffee, if it ever arrives, is perfect—just like we would get at our neighborhood café, and it even arrives with warm milk! But … In the months since City Diner has opened, again and again, the service has been so slow, the managers so rude, and the staff so inept, that we will not go again without hours to spare and patience to give. Two examples:
1) Shanghaiist and a friend went to City Diner for breakfast, about 10 am on a Saturday. We had been there a couple times before and loved it—the food was good, the wi-fi was fast, and the beer was cold. Sure, it was a bit expensive, but no more than the other slightly fancy places in town. That being said, this is a diner–is it supposed to be priced to a slightly fancy bracket?
We ordered coffee and breakfast. The place was about 80 percent full. Twenty minutes pass. We ask again for our coffee, and it arrives. Ten minutes pass, and we ask for our food. It’s coming, we’re told. Five minutes later, we get a (cold) free entrée, with the explanation that, 35 minutes after we order, our meals haven’t been submitted to the chef. Ten additional minutes pass (now 45 minutes after our initial entrance) and the manager stops by to say (in Chinese): “Look, we’ve lost your order. Tell us what you want and we’ll give it to the chef.” It was then that we left and walked to Element Fresh, which was fresh, fast, and tasty, as it always is.
2) This past Saturday night, about 3 am, we got home from our usual clubbing routine (Club Deep = hot that night!) and, looking at the 24 hour delivery menu, (the top of all City Diner menus say “24 HOUR DELIVERY”) we were all ready to order a tuna melt and fries—a perfect hangover cure. Until we called. Could I have a delivery order? The hostess said “No, we don’t deliver.” Me: “Umm, your menu says you deliver 24 hours a day. What time do you start delivering again?” Hostess: “I don’t know–CLICK!”.
Now, we know that it takes time for a restaurant to work properly after it opens. It happens! A restaurant is a frickin hard place to run! But it’s been months since City Diner opened, and the terrible service just hasn’t changed. Neither have the lame “we just opened” excuses. We’ve been there a couple times for lunch, and have had a good experience. We’ve been there after work once with no major issues—though it did take us 25 minutes to get our burger.
The food is great. The wi-fi is fast. But right now, City Diner has turned into just another average Shanghai shack—high on the image, high on the prices, but low on the service. What a shame. Here’s hoping they shape up their act.
Image of City Diner from monkeyking on Flickr.