I’ve been saving this review for a day where I felt particularly irked. Louise tells me I do my best writing while in a state of suffused fury. Well, readers, here I am. Konaba Marinaio was the beginning of the only day of our trip which I would consider a culinary failure. A combination of inept waiting, ghastly food and slow service made for a dreadful meal. Le Routard has never failed me before. I used this wonderful French guidebook throughout my trips in Europe and beyond. Yet, why they recommended this restaurant is quite beyond me. I shall detail our experiences now.
The first sign that our dining experience was going to be questionable came from the waiter, whom I shall dub ‘Clod’. Clod asked us where we were from and we said Birmingham. The counter to this amiable pleasantry came in the form of Clod ejaculating ‘Aston Villa’ and showing us a picture of him in what I can only presume is a football stadium. After this exchange, we asked Clod for some coffee. He then proceeded to say ‘best coffee in Birmingham’ as though he’d forgotten we were in fact in Montenegro. The only conclusion I can make is that his sense of humour extended to replacing ‘Kotor’ with wherever his diners are from.
The alarm bells rung less loudly with the first course. We shared a taglio misto, as is my wont, which was all right. The ensemble wasn’t quite delicious enough to be home made or even locally sourced. I need hardly comment on the freshness of the meat, one n only has to look at the edges of the smoked pork on the left and make their own conclusions. The cheese was fine, the lettuce was shop-bought. This starter was all right, but nothing special. Take care to look at the chorizo on the right.
I ordered the chorizo sandwich, expecting something wonderful. Alack, This was just the starter on a piece of bread. The bread, again clearly shop bought, had a spattering of mustard on the bottom and was topped with the same ingredients we were served on our starter. Some vegetables adorned this sorry looking sandwich.
Best Coffee in Birmingham. Clod
We ordered a bottle of wine, not knowing how much we would need it, before we ordered the coffee. At first, Clod did not understand that we wanted a full bottle. Perhaps it was the extent of his English or that nobody had ordered a full bottle in his limited memory span. 20 minutes after we ordered the wine, it arrived and is pictured below. You might be able to spot a bit of red material above the cord. Clod has ripped up a red paper napkin and tied it around the neck of the bottle. Clod presumably left the cord to prove to us this was a quality wine. He failed.
In another bizarre turn, Clod was mid conversation with Louise about something (probably Keats) when he shot off to the other end of the restaurant. A couple had arrived and sat down, which Clod must have thought merited dropping Louise mid Keatsian sentence. He scuttled back past our table to tend to their needs and apologised mumbling “sorry very busy”. there were a total of seven diners in the entire restaurant.
The final nail in Clod’s incompetent coffin was when the bill arrived. He had written 10% in blue pen on the bottom and charged us a surplus. I suspect now, in retrospect, that this was a service charge, which is perfectly fine. But when we asked him about it, he said it was a tip. “Everybody tips”, Clod protested. Given his completely dreadful behaviour and unthinkably awful waiting skills, we were not prepared to give him any more money than we owed. Then Clod did some awful maths and took what I calculated to be 3% off of the bill, not the 10% he had brutishly added. Thankfully, this was a cheap lunch.
Peculiarly, when I walked past the restaurant the next day, on my way back to the car with the gang, Clod pointed at my jacket from across the street and said, loudly “Goooood”. I think mortified doesn’t cover how I felt.
Needless to say, I left this restaurant frustrated, hungry and vexed. I could not leave drunk as I was driving shortly afterwards, though I suspect this sensible measure is not observed by many Montenegrin drivers. The amalgam of incompetence highlighted everything a restaurant should not do. Customers at any dining establishment are to be treated with respect and courtesy. This is a mutual duty which the diner must impose on himself when addressing the staff. Catering is a difficult job and waiters ought to be respected and espouse respect. What I witnessed at Marinaio was nothing short of a travesty. Do not eat here if you value your opinion of casual dining.