At first, pigging out on over thirty different restaurants in a short span of time sounded like a good idea. But when it was time for the Trinoma Bloggers’ Food Tour last January 9, I believe everyone would agree that feeling satiated would be an understatement. Bellies bulged. Mouths were filled. Stomachs were filled to the brim. I swear a bucket would’ve come in handy that day, if only to throw out all the food we’ve tasted from the previous restaurants just to taste the next ones.
I believe I have tasted every possible dish available for pork, beef, chicken and shrimp out there. There were just a lot of food and cuisines around, all ready for tasting and sampling. But before I get to my reviews of the 32 or so restaurants who participated in the event, let me cue you in on my whole experience, and possibly tell a few behind-the-scene stories as well.
I was at the event quite early as always, but I found out some bloggers were even a lot earlier than me. And I thought I was punctual. Karlo arrived at Trinoma at around 10am. Excited? Not much.
Registration was a breeze and I was assigned to the Blue Group (which, as we found out later in the event, didn’t have that much significance anyway). They served cocktails near the registration booth, as well as some food so that we could eat properly (perhaps they foresaw that some restos were gonna feed us words instead of actual food). Several minutes later and the place was jampacked with bloggers, all hungry and ready to take on the food fest that’s coming their way.
After a while we started walking to our first floor. The lovely personnel from Trinoma oriented us on what’ll transpire that day. Then came the first surprise: we were gonna go our own ways and “tour” the restaurants on our own (not really our own, but by groups). All along we thought we had a guide so that she could take us to the different restaurants available. But it turns out we could go and hop around the different restos as we pleased. I didn’t see anything wrong with that, except that it completely beats the purpose of calling the event a “Food Tour” if there was no one there to “tour” us around. Or I can be just maarte like that, ionno.
So like hungry dogs out hunting for prey, we settled inside the nearest restaurant we saw: Madison Grill. At first the resto was closed but they opened the door for us once we mentioned we were on a food tour. We were shocked because the place looked so nice and so we sat on the tables. At first nobody was approaching us, and looking at the faces of the waiters seemed like they were so bewildered upon seeing us there.
As far as I am concerned, modesty, courtesy and all signs of civilization aside, we were out there for food. But it appeared that Madison Grill wasn’t prepared for our coming. They didn’t know what to do, they kept on talking in the background, which left me asking myself why they even confirmed participation at all. After a few minutes the chef came out and oriented us on the concept of the restaurant. In fairness to Madison Grill, their restaurant concept was nice, especially the do-it-yourself pizza bar and the huge pizza oven which was outside the kitchen. And in fairness to the chef, he was very accommodating even if he didn’t let us taste anything.
I kept on insisting my other groupmates to leave because it seemed that they weren’t ready, so as to prevent further humiliation and awkward moments. After the Madison Grill experience we hunted down restos that served food.
Don’t get me wrong. We may have looked like hungry, malnourished (okay, not me, but some of us) people seemingly begging for food because we only went to restaurants that actually served food. But this is a freaking food tour, for crying out loud, and how are we supposed to rate or review the restos if we didn’t get to taste their food? Oh nice place, this is! Oh yeah, it’s cheap. But news flash people, people don’t go to your places to chill and relax, people go there to actually EAT.
That aside we went on to other restos to have our fills. Some restaurant’s crew were very accommodating, which made their food seem to taste a lot better, than those restos that seem to ignore or discriminate the bloggers that came for the tour. AJ relates such an experience when the manager–no less–of Cabalen didn’t treat them decently and started berating some bloggers. Thank God I had too much of Cabalen to have even thought of going there.
As I’ve said, some restos were very accommodating. Bubba Gump’s was one of those places. Their crew was very friendly and they engage the bloggers in conversation. I had a particularly fond chat with a lady crew from Bubba Gump about the history behind the names of the dishes in their menu. Therefore, the whole experience was much better, unlike when we transferred to Friday’s where the crew merely handed us plates and just let us be. We quickly transferred to the next restaurant.
Here’s what I think: I believe some restaurants who participated in the event underestimated the bloggers. They didn’t know how much power and influence the bloggers wield. Some were unprepared, some were not accommodating, some were just plain blah. And those things are gonna come out of the bloggers’ reviews. Some treated bloggers marginally, some ignored them. Bloggers are critics too, you know, if not the worst kind of critic there is because they bluntly speak their mind. Some restos weren’t available for questions, some of them don’t seem even a bit interested in entertaining the bloggers’ queries. I believe the treatment we bloggers get are reflective of their services. Their food, their place, their ambiance speak for themselves. But their service is something they should really give an effort on. And the way some restaurants treated the bloggers is disappointing. I’m sure they’ll get an earful from them.
Trust me, if this was an event with the involvement of people from the mainstream media, they’d be up on their toes just to make an impression. Don’t they realize bloggers can say a lot more because they narrate from their personal experiences? Let this be a learning experience for companies who would think of holding a similar event in the future.
That aside, the tour sure filled a lot of bellies to the brim! Thanks to Trinoma and Yehey.com for this effort. ‘Til next time! =D