Sherman's Food Adventures: Summer of Love (Presented by Swallow Tail)

Summer of Love (Presented by Swallow Tail)

Ever since my first experience at the original Swallow Tail Supper Club, I look forward to their special events. The last time, I was invited to their Secret Supper Soiree, which involved moving from location to the next. This time around, I was invited to their Summer of Love dinner which featured an Iranian meal served in the yoga studio at Che Baba. Prior to entering the studio, we met at Robson Park and sat on beach blankets (which we had to bring ourselves) for our first course.

Robin led the procession which included a violinist. Our first item was Iranian Flatbread stuffed with feta, basil, mint and tarragon. The bread was a little dry, but the cheese helped provide some moisture. I liked the combination of herbs which offered up some unique flavours. Not a bad start, but hardly exciting. After that, we were ushered into the yoga studio which was converted into a dining room where we sat on the floor. Authentic yes, comfortable, no (especially for the tall men around me). As we entered the studio, we were presented with a drink consisting of Gin with sage flower and elder flower petals. It was a light and refreshing beverage. Any other drinks (including wine) were extra charge, which is both normal and expected at an event such as this.

After some introductions, the first plates of food came out. We started with Iranian Basmati Rice (Lubia Polo) with beans, cinnamon and pork (at least I thought it was pork). Even from the very beginning, we got very little information as to what we were eating. We were given bits and pieces here and there, but no formal explanation (that we could hear at least). The rectangle thing that you see on top of the rice is "tah-deeg" which is the rice crust at the bottom of the pot. The rice dish was pleasant, but we only got 2 small orders of it to share among 6 of us. The half Meatball (Kufteh) on top of the rice was only one of 2 that we received for the whole table (that would mean we got only one entire meatball for 6 people). It was moist and had a good meaty texture while being soft. There was a combination of herbs, beef and what I believe were nuts or split peas.

Served on the side was Cucumber Yogurt Dip (Maast-o Khiar) which was refreshing. Then we got one, count'em, one small bowl of Eggplant and Tomato (Mirza Ghassemi). This was fresh-tasting with slight tartness. The texture was quite nice though. It was a bit strange to eat this without any bread. For our last savoury dish, we were presented a small dish of Tomato & Cucumber Salad (Salad Shiraz). Not much to comment other than it was crunchy and vibrant with a touch of tartness. We actually got 2 of these for the whole table. Throughout dinner, we requested for more food since we were hardly satisfied. The 3 other tables around us had the same issue. Not only did we not get anymore food, it was difficult to even get our water glasses refilled.

Lastly, we were presented with Saffron Rice Pudding (Sholeh Zard) for dessert. This was not to my liking, nor was it for many other people as well (since many were left uneaten). There was nothing wrong with the flavours as it was quite mild and only semi-sweet. The texture was far too stiff. It appeared that the pudding was made too long in advance and it had hardened. At the end, we were served some Tea which was accompanied by rock sugar (which one would put in their mouth while drinking the tea). Okay... I'm sad to say that this dinner was not up to the usual high standards. We've come to expect innovation, creativity and customer satisfaction from Swallow Tail. This did not happen here. Sure, I was comped, yet it still wasn't a great experience. For those around me, they had paid $79.00 each for this. The feedback I got was one of disappointment. The excuse we heard for the lack of food was due to one table re-ordering early (and essentially consuming all the food). Even if that is the case, that is not our problem and plans should have been in place to make sure people had enough food. Furthermore, the service was slow and unorganized. It is understandable that there are a lot of logistics involved in running a pop-up restaurant, but the bottom-line is that the customers have to go away happy. This was not the case. Now, by writing this "not-so-glowing" post may eliminate my chances at further invites from Swallow Tail. However, if this is direction they are moving towards, I may not want another invite.

*Note: This was an invited dinner where all food was comped*

7 comments:

KimHo said...

Does this somehow reminds you of... Irashai Grill? I guess right now some people might be wondering and/or doing some quick searches, hehehe.

It is interesting the last part of the post, as the other blog post I have seen about this event so far makes no mention of the issue of the amount of food. Could it be (a) he was in the one table that got the "re-order" earlier or (b) chose not to mention it, probably to avoid that exact one thing you mentioned...

Sherman Chan said...

@KimHo Well... I'm not going to start anything here. Let's just say this is my observation and opinion.

Kevin | 604 Foodtography said...

Kim & Sherman,

I didn't feel like there was enough food, but I did get to re-order some additional rice, in conjunction with my table being all females who all stopped eating earlier than I did, I had a lot of food available..but it was still not enough, I went elsewhere to eat.

I just simply chose not to include that fact, is that a problem with you Kim?

Swallow Tail said...

Ouch!

Matt here from Swallow Tail.

Thanks for the tough love Sherman. I hear you!

Robin and I just finished a lengthy phone conversation discussing the points you've brought up here and how to prevent creating underwhelming experiences in the future.

Fact is, we do these pop ups for the love of food and in the hopes of creating something fun, memorable & novel for the food scene in Vancouver.

In large part due to your feedback here, we've realized that we've been rolling out more pop ups than we can handle this year and we're gonna scale it back so we can focus more on scrutinizing over the details, to make these events AWESOME.

First point of action; we've fired me as a server. I'm great at playing host but really, a tragic mess of a waiter.

The problem with pop ups is that every time we do an event, we're walking in to a brand new kitchen with a brand new chef, brand new service team and a brand new menu.

To deal with this, we're creating systems to clearly define each staff members roll.

And I do apologize for the stingy portions. After looking over the books, I realize we had an administrative hiccup and wound up with 10 extra guests coming who were not accounted for!

I'm embarrassed by the experience you had that night. What I can offer now to you and all our future guests is a promise that it's important to us to be continually improving; making every event better than the last, and learning from slip ups.

Thanks again for your honesty here Sherman,

You can count on an invite to our next event for sure!

Matt Guterres
Behind The Scenes Guy
Swallow Tail

LotusRapper said...

@Matt (Swallow Tail): that's cool that you're improving your operations in response partly to Sherman's comments. The straightforwardness and honesty is not easy sometimes in these venues. And while I've never been to a Swallow Tail event, now I'm more intrigued than ever, and with your response and commitment of improvements, I'd like to participate at some time in the future :-)

Sherman Chan said...

@Matt Thanks for your response. Yes, I was pretty "to the point" with my post. I'm so impressed that you guys have taken it so seriously and are moving towards improving your product. But then again, that is no surprise because I know how much you care.

@LR Agreed. This type of response makes people want to give a place a second chance.

Swallow Tail said...

Thanks for your understanding guys! Look forward to having you.

@LotusRapper We've got something exciting in the works for late August. A dessert festival and soda shoppe! If you'd like to be notified when tickets go on sale, we have a subscriber form on our website:)

Enjoy the sun all!