Our family has always had a positive ala carte dine-in experience at Mario’s at Tomas Morato. Last Sunday though, we celebrated my brother’s birthday at Mario’s and was disappointed. Every Sunday lunch, Mario’s promotes a buffet that apparently, is a while-allocations-last buffet that runs out of the good stuff as early as 12:30pm.
I figured this out because when I arrived at 12:30pm, the lapu-lapu fish already has head and bones remaining. I thought its ok as they will surely replace it as the place is full and its still prime lunch hour. I was sadly mistaken when I noticed the owner, Chef Anton Benitez, instructing the waiter a few moments later to remove the empty dish from the buffet line and to re-arrange the table so its now spacious and to appear that the Lapu-Lapu dish wasn’t even there.
When I asked the staff why is the Lapu-Lapu no longer being refilled and I still haven’t had a single bite, I was told na “Sir sorry, ubos na po. Naka tatlo na kami kaya di na maglalabas”. So I asked if this is the case that dishes are on a “quota” basis only, and sadly the answer is YES. So if you run out of roast beef/turkey/lechon in carving station, sucks for you as Mario’s isn’t really an all-you-can-eat buffet but rather here’s our quota of dishes for the day and “bahala na kayo” mentality. They do not care if you got to eat or not but rather how many of that dish was already put out.
When you pay over Php 800 for a lunch buffet, you expect better principles and business practice. While the food tastes good, sadly its not worth it unless you go early like 11am while stocks are still plenty.
Seeing as the owner is aware of this and cares more on profits and keeping appearances, I am not deluded that this practice is an oversight. So enjoy Mario’s in Tomas Morato for their ala carte but if you insist on joining the buffet, may the odds be ever in your favor.