Friday, March 23, 2012

Papa John's?... No Papa

Its tag line says 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.' To that I say, "Ha!"
I have visited and reviewed many restaurants in Hyderabad  but if there is one that scores zero on all counts, it is undoubtedly Papa John's Pizza.
When I returned home and searched the internet for the reviews, I saw that many had given it very poor ratings. Almost all the people who went to the outlet have gone there after they had a good experience eating at Papa John's at the US. If this is true, then why does India deserve such poor product and service? It will not be too long before the discerning Hyderabadis will kick Papa out of their city.

This was my experience today:
I dropped in at the Hi-Tech city outlet of Papa John's at around 3: 40 pm. Except for one table, there were none occupied. I sat myself down and waited and waited for someone to take the order. A couple of people were gossiping at the cash counter. When I saw that no one was interested in taking an order, I asked for the menu card. Decided on an order of a small pizza (Rs 165);  cheese sticks (Rs 89); an Island Green salad (Rs. 129); a soft drink ( Rs. 24). With VAT, the total was Rs. 466.
Even before the first course was served I had inadvertently spilt some of the contents of the soft drink served. The spill was ignored till one of the boys saw that the liquid was about to drip onto the floor. To save himself work later, he quickly swept the liquid into a tray. He then proceeded to put paper towels all around to absorb the stuff and left them there once he was assured that the liquid would not drip any more.I was left sitting amidst the pile of paper towels when the first course was served. I had to request him to clean the stuff before I could start eating.

The Cheese sticks: I had imagined would be something that would taste like the Veg Strips at KFC. KFC's veg strips are awesome, soft yet crunchy and served with an amazing dip. Here, at Papa's, the cheese sticks are served like a pizza, sliced into 6 pieces and surprise...also tasted like a Pizza with an extra layer of cheese. Dry and not soft or succulent. There is a dip mentioned in the menu but you aren't served with one. On request, I was told that you'd be served the dip only if you want it. The dip was a red color goo, which I was told is a Pizza dip. I ate half the cheese sticks and brought the rest home. Two hours after I brought the stuff home, rigor mortis had set in the cheese sticks and the red colored dip was stinking to the skies.

The Pizza base was ok if I were to compare it to Domino's bread but nowhere as good as that of Pizza Hut. I had to keenly look for toppings as they were few and far between.This was served with ketchup. I asked whether there was any other sauce available.  I was served another red colored stuff and this was supposed to be barbeque sauce! I swear I couldn't distinguish between the pizza dip, the barbeque sauce and the ketchup. All looked and tasted the same.

Island Green Salad: I had the salad box packed for my son who is very found of salads. I put it  in refrigerator as soon as I came home and maybe hence it didn't get spoilt. Later when we opened the box, we found that there was a dismally thin coat of salad dressing. Mostly cucumber slices and some hard and stale paneer pieces. Very little of the promised lettuce or pineapple. To top it all, neither was there an iota of salt nor any other condiments that go into a salad. Paid Rs.129 for the few cucumber pieces. Dumped it in dust-bin, so horrible was the preparation. At Pizza corner when we had a similar box of veg salad , it remained crunchy even two hours after we had got it packed and at nearly half this cost.

The bill when asked for was quickly scribbled on a piece of paper and the figure quoted. The printed bill was given only on my insistence.
All food is served in take-away cardboard boxes and not on plates. When I had tried to close the boxes with the left over food, I couldn't really get the box flaps close properly and asked the waiter to pack the boxes along with  the salad box that I had ordered. He simply picked up those boxes and shoved them into the waiting parcel. I had to request him to take out those boxes and close them before he put them back in the carry bag.
The waiting time is bout 15 minutes for the 'fast' food and that too at a time when there was no one else in the outlet and there were no other orders. This was one of those very rare times when I walked out without leaving a rupee as tip.
I wished I'd rather eaten at the Mac next door. I would have had a greater satisfaction at half the cost.
Papa John's... NEVER AGAIN.

Ps: Same at Chennai too.