So last night we went to Fire and Ice. I’ve been there once a couple of years ago and thought that it was not bad, but nowhere near good enough to justify the hype. Last night N* felt like a Med spread, so there we were. After some bread and antipasti (of which more later), we were served pasta Alfredo con prosciutto. And it was DRY. The pasta was beyond al dente, it was undercooked. (How can you get BOTH dry and hard unless you’re just terrible at cooking pasta?)
But we were tired. Hungry. So (after some effort) we managed to flag down a waiter. Asked him (very nicely, especially considering my level of fatigue, starvation and consequent irritation) to take the pasta back to the chef and have it tossed with some more Alfredo sauce. He looked bewildered. Then said he’d get back to us. Vanished. All this, mind you, while the pasta congealed and our tempers simmered. Shortly, one numbers Shorty arrived. We explained again (still nicely, but I counted to 20 first). He said (with Big Fake Smile) “Of course, sir!” We smiled back (happy non-fake smiles). THEN he said “But we will charge you extra for it.”
Are you for real?!
Yes, we will charge extra.
Go away and do what you like. Just do it fast.
So, this Fire & Ice, which sundry friends have praised to the skies, serves BAD pasta. Even if it was a one-off, it would mean they do not have consistent quality.
Then, they have the immortal rind to tell you that if you want your food edible, that costs extra. I mean, what are they smoking?! (They actually charged FORTY per cent extra for tossing it up with sauce)
I am Not Happy. So here are all the wonderful things I noted about Fire & Ice.
1 – They’ve jammed in too many tables. It’s a fairly large space, so they must be really greedy to make it look crowded. I couldn’t lean back with my hands behind my head for fear of bumping into the pony-tailed ex-pat at the next table and giving him the Wrong Idea. (Fear because my gaydar beeped. Very loud.)
2 – The waiters need a LOT of training. They also need baths and laundry. And breath mints. And those chequered bandannas, the ones they wear to look like cool Latinos? They make them look like engine stokers. Grimy engine stokers.
3 – The menu is limited. Only two kinds of soup and one risotto? They do, however, have some variety in the pizzas and pastas. But no farfalle or fusilli, no gnocchi. Unless the waiters are clueless, in which case refer to Pt. 2 above.
4 – The so-called focaccia was more like pan pizza crust. Just about OK when slathered with melted mozzarella (what, you didn’t know I’m on a healthy eating trip?), but the insides were NOT soft and there was no discernible flavour. It’s supposed to be the same dough as pizza, but surely it shouldn’t have the texture and character of a pizza base? The jury’s out on the olive oil.
5 – The antipasti platter was mostly good. Decent salami (though sliced too thin for my liking), really good bocconcini and fresh tomatoes. No feta cheese, no lettuce or indeed any fresh greens, now that was a disappointment
6 – The pasta supposedly “con prosciutto” didn’t have prosciutto. Standard ham does NOT qualify as prosciutto. Especially if it's barely discernible to either the eye or the palate.
7 – I wanted to speak to the manager. He was not in the restaurant. Where is he, stuck between a pair of headphones down in Bangalore?
8 – They did not have a complaint book. I was given a sheet of paper, where I explained my dissatisfaction at some length. But I don’t know if it will reach management (or whether they will respond).*
Value for money? Well, this place is not cheap by Calcutta standards, but it’s not hideously expensive either. Except that bad food is bad value no matter what the price-line. Maybe I’m more critical because people have praised it to the skies. But really, this is no better than a neighbourhood joint that happens to be in an up-market location. The food is indifferent and the ambience is indeterminate.
And we could have overlooked all of this if their attitude hadn’t sucked big time.
* - I mailed them. It bounced.