A Disappointing and Frustrating Experience at the District, Crace

  • Terrible service
  • Mislabelled items on the menu
  • Unreliable ability to cater for coeliacs

I don’t know anyone who goes to restaurants to be treated poorly, but this is what happened to me on Monday when I went for lunch at District in Crace.

I met a friend for lunch in Crace and to say it was disappointing is an understatement. We had initially decided we’d go to Bean and Grain but while I was on my way, my friend called to say Bean and Grain was shut and that she was waiting at District instead.

I was happy to be going to District. Although it’s a little pricey for a suburban pub, I’d eaten here before and been very happy with the food and service. On previous visits, I’d talked to the chef about my coeliac requirements and been delighted with the care and attention shown.

District has a bar along one side of the room and there square and rectangular wooden tables dotted around. The walls are mostly black but there are large floor to ceiling glass walls which let in plenty of light. These were pushed completely open providing easy access to the outdoor covered patio area that stretches along two sides of the building.

We arrived at District at 12.10pm, the place wasn’t too busy and we got a table outside in the covered patio area. We sat and chatted for a few minutes while we looked over the menu. The menu itself had a few options which had been identified as either gluten free or gluten free available. I couldn’t decide what I wanted but I’d had the salt and pepper calamari before. On that occasion, I had been able to discuss my coeliac requirements with the chef who had been happy to prepare and cook the calamari separately to ensure it was safe from cross contamination, rather than deep fry it with the chips (which are not gluten free).

My friend and I went to the bar where we were ‘served’ by the female staff member. I use the term ‘served’ loosely because what we received wasn’t ‘service’. The staff I dealt with had the bad attitude and behaviour of a pouty, insolent teenager.

When I went to the bar, I explained I was coeliac and that I needed my food to be prepared separately. This earned me a dirty look from the staff which I ignored, and I continued to ask if I could get the calamari. The staff member said she’d ask the kitchen and huffed off. Yes, she huffed off like a pouty teenager. She came back and said the calamari wasn’t suitable as it was cooked with the chips. I was disappointed and slightly put off, not just by the staff’s attitude but also by the fact that previously the kitchen staff had been happy to accommodate me, but I smiled and thought ‘never mind’…

While I scanned the menu, my friend ordered drinks which were poured and I asked about the stuffed mushrooms, which were marked as gluten free available. Again, the staff member huffed to the kitchen and returned to say they contained breadcrumbs. I pointed out the menu had them identified as gluten free available and all the staff member did was stare at me like I was being inconvenient.

By this point, I was starting to feel irritated. The food was not as described on the menu and the attitude from the staff was grating. My past experiences were not matching the current one. After my two supposedly gluten free options were not available, I asked the staff what I could eat. Without another word, she huffed back to the kitchen and returned to spit out the words ‘steak or salad’.

I had a look over the menu at the steak and salads. The Porter house was $29.90 and came with the chips I couldn’t eat, and the rib eye was $37.90 and was a very heavy meal. There was one salad marked as gluten free on the menu. It was pumpkin and it cost $18.90 – something I can get practically everywhere for less money.

By now I was pissed off. I told my friend there was nothing I wanted to eat and we cancelled the food she’d ordered and took our drinks back to our table because they’d already been poured. If she hadn’t poured the drinks we just would’ve left.

The service was unbelievably bad and the food options were mundane. I can handle shitty service or shitty food options but both at the same time is too much. What annoys me the most though is the lack of consistency in both service and food preparation. Clearly District can’t be relied upon as a place where I can eat safely and be treated with basic respect. I am enormously disappointed and I won’t be returning. It’s a real shame because my previous lunch and dinner to District have been the complete opposite.

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