Exceptional customer experience is relative to what the customer’s baseline and expectations are.
The same exact experience could be truly exceptional to one customer, while more or less average to another customer who might have different previous experiences.
And, so the same applies to me as a customer. I have dined in restaurants a lot in the past few years, and some of my outings, especially when it’s a big group, could end-up in a buffet. I know that buffets are even more popular during the month of Ramadan, where practically everyone gets to eat at the same exact time.
This week, I was part of a work workshop, which also happened to be in a Hotel, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi.
We had lunch there in a place called Ingredients, and the restaurant offered a buffet lunch.
My experience was a bit different than the buffets I have been used to. I was at some point surprised, pleasantly surprised, and so I want to walk you through my thought process, as a customer for my restaurant customer experience with Ingredients.
Step 1: Discovering
I have been practically living in Abu Dhabi during the week for the past 3–4 months, and so I wasn’t staying in “downtown” or the more trendy places such as Yas Island. I was staying in an area that some could argue that it’s in the middle of nowhere.
I was staying close to ADNEC, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. That area is pure business and a bunch of hotels, and so the dining options that are nearby are limited. I knew a few places, one of them the Eastern Mangroves area, as well as, the restaurants close to the Ritz Carlton. Other than that you will have to drive 20–25 minutes to have dinner, and while that is a reasonable time to travel for dinner, it’s not really convenient to do it on a daily basis.
I was always on the “look-out” for new places, but the one thing that I never caught, was the restaurants available Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi, where it was practically 7 minutes away from where I was staying.
The moment I was in Ingredients and witnessed this incredible view, I thought to myself, how did I not find the place?
According to the manager of the restaurant…
One customer told him he has been living in Abu Dhabi for 9 years and just found out about this place.
Now that he knows it, he will come more often.
Incredible. Right? I haven’t spoken yet about the experience, but you will gauge from what I just mentioned how awesome that place is, and hey did you see that view?
Step 2: Sitting in the seating area
I can’t mention enough how I fell in love with that view, and so that brings me to the seating area.
I actually dined twice in this place, in two consecutive days. The first day I wasn’t able to sit outside and enjoy the view because it was already booked. I guess this is something to take note of. Always book outside, especially with the chill-out weather of Abu Dhabi in December.
I was disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy the view on my first day, but hey I still sat next to the food. Not a bad option.
Step 3: Ordering the food or rather getting the food
Since this is a buffet-based restaurant, then instead of ‘ordering’, we serve ourselves and get our own food.
My strategy is first to skim the buffet. The last thing I want to do is put something on the plate only to find out later, that there is something better I would have liked to try.
And so, I skimmed. There was a variety of options and cuisines, which I loved. I also knew that I had to go back to work, so I knew I wanted to get something light and not go crazy with stuffing my mouth.
Step 4: Dining
Usually, when I go to buffets, there is some kind of hecticness in the process, especially if it was very busy. Cluttery, glasses, and water are placed on the tables, but sometimes, there would be some missing items. If they were missing you either get them yourself, you ask the waiter or the waiter would notice it and get them for you.
When it came to Ingredients, everything was in place. In fact, when you go to get yourself some dessert, you come back to find the waiter sharing with you a small spoon for the dessert.
The waiter would bring you water and ask you if you want to have some juice.
But hey, enough talking about the service, because if the food isn’t good, then what’s the point anyways?
There were multiple cuisines. In fact, there were 7 cuisines, some were better than others. The variety could cater to most people and whether you are a vegetarian as well.
Overall, the food was exquisite. I was surprised to find that even if the buffet preparing large portions of food and multiple cuisines, the food was actually very tasty!
Step 5: Paying the bill
Since it was a work workshop lunch, I didn’t really pay the bill, which made me intrigued to know how much this actually costs.
- Lunch starts from 195 AED.
- Dinner starts from 150 AED.
Other than that, there is nothing else I could add.
Step 6: Telling my friends
One of the best things about this place is actually the view. When it comes to dining, many places are indoor, but this one, you can just sit and indulge at the moment.
And if you are super hungry and don’t want to wait to order, then this buffet is totally worth it. The quality of the food is really great. I’d be careful though, I usually overeat and stuff my face with food when it’s a buffet. Not so great for my scale.
My restaurant customer experience with Ingredients was based on a buffet setting for work lunch. It was perfect for that, others come for Friday brunches, and dinner buffets as well. I am betting the vibes are totally different.
The one thing that I would improve though is the discoverability of this place. It’s incredible, and not so many people know about it!