Mellow Beach Club
I don’t do it very often, but when I do there rules you should adhere to when complaining. 1). Don’t lose your cool—it won’t get you anywhere. 2). Be polite and state clearly what your grievances are. 3). Don’t expect a freebie, especially if you’ve managed to scarf down the food anyway, as an honourable place will fix it in an appropriate manner. And finally, 4). Speak to the person in charge. There’s no point yelling at the waiting staff, it’s probably not their fault.
And so, with this somewhat back-to-front way of being positive, I can’t commend the Mellow Beach Club enough for the way they dealt with my complaint. It was impeccable. Unfortunately, when it comes to food and service they have a long way to go.
Mellow by Custo is a collaboration between Belgian Dirk Vervaet, the former Porsche Cup racing driver, and Pedro Monge the roaming celebrity chef (who it is rumoured Madonna was keen to add to her entourage before Vervaet secured him for this project). Custo Dalmau, the flamboyant fashion designer, is behind the design of the place. Perhaps they should all have stuck to their day jobs.
The day of my visit we arrived, without a reservation granted, to a full terrace (the interior is dark, clubby and less appealing). But a groovy little thing in shorts and flip-flops said a table was coming free shortly, asked us to wait and left us standing, like rabbits caught in headlights, in the middle of the floor. We took ourselves off to the leatherette banquettes (very Nineties of you Mr Custo, if you don’t mind my saying) and waited, and waited, and waited. After, oh I don’t know, 20 minutes of being studiously ignored, Monge sidled over, looking ever so slightly grim, and offered a drink on the house to pacify the encroaching bad mood.
Twenty minutes after that we were finally seated. Fifteen minutes after that someone took our order. Another 15 minutes went by and we begged for some bread to stave off the hunger pangs. When the food finally arrived it went something like this: Caesar salad consisting of a pile of diced, pallid chicken meat, a microscopic pool of dressing and a bag of supermarket mixed leaves upended over the top of it. There were no Parmesan shavings, not a hint of an anchovy. In my starvation I chomped miserably down on this uninspiring little lot and wondered what the hell they were doing. Suffice to say my guest’s Greek salad was not a whole lot better.
Next up a tepid fillet of fish on some seen-better-days grilled veggies, and my fideuà with the noodles standing to attention as they are supposed to, but I fear for all the wrong reasons. It looked as if they’d sat on a counter top for far too long waiting for someone to pick them up and deliver them. Pudding was a few chunks of pineapple and some quite good vanilla ice cream for me; a trio of nondescript, watery sorbets for my pal.
I want to be clear here: I ate every last morsel, frankly I’d have eaten an old pair of shoes at that stage, but when the bill arrived for €108 for this lot plus two glasses of wine, I asked the young lady who served us if she’d bring me the manager too.
He arrived looking sheepish. I told him in the nicest way possible that although I was happy to pay my bill, it had been one of the lowliest experiences in my time as a restaurant critic. That when something costs this much and is attached to a five-star hotel, they need to get it right or at least explain what’s going on. Hell, turn me away, and tell me you are full.
To his credit he took it on the chin. He knew. He apologised profusely. Explained there was a big party on the beach that day and that it had overstretched the kitchen. Waived the bill (the correct way to deal with it) and implored me to come back and give them a second chance.
And you know what, because he listened and took the criticism on board, there may just be hope for this lot and there’s the tiniest chance that return I will. Well, at least for a cocktail.