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Nov 00

Xerts – Restaurant

We went to Xerts last night. It was an… interesting, dining experience. Xerts is a space-themed restaurant based on the premise that the restaurant is actually owned by an enterprising race of hyperactive aliens called Xertians who have set up a restaurant in orbit around Earth. The restaurant cost $35 million to build, so I was quite curious to see what the big deal was about.

From the building’s entrance, there’s no indication that it’s a restaurant other than a poster on the window that read “Waiter, there’s a flying saucer in my soup!”. Instead, the entrance is a Xerts merchandising shop full of expensively-priced cheap gimmicks. The restaurant is actually hidden inside the building and to reach it, employees lead you into a gondola – a room with a massive wallscreen designed to simulate being launched into space. A poor effort (cute animations, but the actual motion of the gondola consists of three or four soft shakes), but it’s obviously designed to amuse the kids (and it works, given the enthralled stares of the little kids standing up the front of the room). But to a bunch of 20 year olds like us, it was just a touch embarrasing :)

Inside the restaurant there are a plethora of plasma TVs and flatscreen monitors. Displays on the wall simulate portholes in space with stars and the occasional spaceship drifting by. Each table is a booth seating at most 10 people. There are no larger tables, so you’re not going to be able to get a large group to this restaurant without splitting the group up. Each table is also equipped with a touchscreen and cordless trackball (for those who can’t reach the screen). All ordering takes place through the screen, followed by a waiter turning up with what you ordered. It’s both convenient and inconvenient – you have to endure the lengthy animated menus, but can order on a whim without having to call a waiter. Which is just as well because the human waiters would not know what “customer service” is if it was rammed up their nasal passages. Simply put, their service sucked royally. While we were settling in, a waiter came over to greet us. The conversation went something like this:

Waiter: “Hi.”
Us: “Hello.”
Waiter: “Are you guys alright?”
Us: “Pardon?”
Waiter: “Fine.”

And then he walked off without another word. Shrugs all around. He came back a bit later – we were still playing around with the touchscreen and he shot in a comment about one of us “never getting past the toilet training stage”. Whoa. Another encounter, when we were asking about how large the pizzas were, somehow resulted in him branding two of us Losers (complete with hand motions). The guy wasn’t having a bad day, I reckon he always was like that. Furthermore, I have never heard a waiter warning us to stay away from several dishes (Burgers and the Kid’s menu). Neither have I seen a waiter attempt to mount the table (ahem). One more thing – when I motioned for a waiter to come over to collect the bill, he mimicked me in a spasticated copy. In a final stuffup, they added two items onto the bill that we hadn’t ordered. And you guys want a tip?? Fuck that.

The food was mixed – some was quite decent, some was not so good. The mocktails were delicious. Mains are in the $15-20 range, so the restaurant’s quite affordable. I don’t know how they are going to recuperate the capital they spent on building the place. They’re not going to get it through tips, that’s for sure. You really can’t go to this restaurant in a serious or cynical mood or you’ll have an abysmal experience. Although it appears to be a kid’s restaurant (and for the most part, it is), there is a fully licensed bar on the side catering for the adults. Just prepare to spend half the evening playing with the touchscreen (complete with games, movie trailers etc.) and the other half being insulted by waiters. I would only recommend it for a once off visit.

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