I tired Charley Browns’ all-you-can-eat weekend brunch on a recent Sunday, and give the food high marks. I’m a taco lover, and accordingly I ate only tacos—28 of them. While that might sound like a lot of food, I ordered them without cheese, and that made them significantly less filling.
I’m glad that the restaurant offers homemade soft corn tortillas. It’s doing so sets it apart from Mexicano, the Rembrandt Hotel’s Mexican restaurant: Mexicano buys its soft corn tortillas from a distributor, and they are loaded with preservatives. So I give full marks to Charley Browns for getting its tortillas right.
The shrimp in my tacos were large, flavorful, and plentiful. The chicken was good too, but the shrimp stole the show. The music and décor were fitting, and the memes in the bathroom were a riot.
I was pleased to see Chef Primo Rivera on the premises. He looked to be off duty (he wasn't wearing an apron), but he spent a few seconds chatting with each of the three occupied tables, mine included.
The promotion includes soft drinks and local bottled water. I had two small bottles of the latter.
My only complaint—and it is a significant one—is that the restaurant charged me for jalapeño slices: 50 baht per cup. I didn’t realize I’d been charged until I asked for my check. The brunch price is 900 baht net, so I planned to give the waiter 1,000 baht and tell him to keep the extra 100 as a tip. Alas, I was presented with a bill for 1,000 baht: 900 for the brunch and 100 for two cups of jalapeño slices. Given that I had only the brunch menu on my table (I gave back the regular menu almost as soon as I sat down), I did not see that the regular menu lists jalapeños as an extra that cost 50 baht per cup. Plus, jalapeños are an ingredient on the Nachos Supreme, which is one of the brunch offerings, so I’m surprised that I was charged extra for the sides of jalapeños, though I could have ordered as many plates of nachos as I could eat, for no extra charge. I’d like to think that I saved the restaurant a lot of money on cheese, too, since I asked for tacos without it. In any case, when a customer avails himself of an all-you-can-eat menu, a well-managed restaurant should have its waiters inform him immediately if any items he orders will cost extra.
Having noted that Charley Browns has far better soft corn tortillas than Mexicano, it’s only fair to note that Mexicano’s all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch does not charge extra for side orders of jalapeños. For that matter, neither does Sunrise Tacos, ever; jalapeños are part of Sunrise’s free salsa bar. Now, I’m not demanding that Charley Browns make jalapeños free when ordering from the a la carte menu. I would, however, like to see them included with the all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch. At the very least, the staff should make clear upfront to any brunch customers who order jalapeños that they cost extra.
My disappointment upon receiving my check was compounded by Chef Primo’s apparent lack of concern for my case. He was sitting alone at a corner table, and was to the best of my knowledge within clear earshot of me as I told my waiter that I was surprised by the jalapeño charge. If for some reason Chef Primo couldn’t hear our conversation, I’m almost certain he could clearly see the unhappy look on my face as I paid my bill. Alas, he left his table and went to the kitchen; I didn’t see him again before I left.
In short, the food was delicious, but the experience was marred by an ill-conceived charge, miscommunication, and a feeling that I’d been had. It was a check with a nasty surprise. I know times are tough for restaurants, but alienating a customer in this way for such a petty amount of money is not good for the bottom line.
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