October 28, 2012 by eatfreak
***Note: I do apologise for the less-than-ideal quality of the photos below. Alfresco dining is not conducive to iPhone photos!
Since I started food blogging and actually paying full attention to the whole experience of eating out, I have come to realize just how severely an otherwise decent food establishment can be let down by poor service. This was particularly the case at Mad Pizza e Bar in Darlinghurst. Maybe I was biased by some of the urbanspoon reviews I had read prior to visiting, plus the Kings Cross version seems to have smilier staff so I won’t tar all Madcows with the same brush, however in regards to this particular experience… well the staff couldn’t have cared less about ensuring it was a good one.
Upon arrival on a steady but not booming Thursday night, it took some time to get the staff’s attention. One staff member was taking a while to process an order at the counter, meanwhile a few other staff were milling about, and given the lack of acknowledgement for a few minutes, we just took the opportunity to nab one of the outdoor tables. The remnants of the previous dinner was still there, which the staff did eventually clear, however left behind the used brown paper table cloth which I needed to ask them to remove (once I could get their attention!). I truly don’t believe I saw the staff (any of them) smile even once at a customer.
The venue itself is pretty funky, a type of smart-casual. The music is energetic and loud, lampshades are en trend. Random soccer photos are projected on the brick walls and you can eat at the bar if so inclined. I think it would be a good spot for a casual first date (unless you were on a first date with someone critical like me… well then I may not make a good first date impression!).
Food and drinks are ordered at the bar, so no table service per se. Their wine pour was rather generous, but that may simply reflect the level of the staff’s disinterest.
We partook in two pizzas on this particular evening. Firstly, the Amalfi which is topped with “sweet tiger prawns, ricotta, garlic, chilli flakes and roma tomato’s, w/ fresh mint leaves”. (note: do they purposely get the punctuation wrong on the word ‘tomatoes’?). We found this a bit bland, but with the addition of extra chilli flakes (which seemed to be missing on arrival), it perked up a bit. The mint was a strange addition we thought, quite a strong taste and not something we would pair with ricotta and prawns? Although it was quite plain, that may not necessarily be a bad thing for those who are not after a flavour onslaught. They were generous with the ricotta. Hmmm 6.5/10?
The second pizza was the Pepperoni, topped with “sliced pepperoni, roma tomato’s, black kalamata olives, & basil leaves” plus anchovies for an extra $1 and chilli requested. This pizza hit the jackpot. The anchovies were the right touch, adding a bit of saltiness to the pizza. This one scores a 8.5/10. Decent sized pizzas with crispy bases of the right thickness – not a pan pizza, but not a pita bread either.
Return factor? No, well, at least not to this particular Mad Pizza establishment. Mad Pizza has another venue on the corner of Darlinghurst Road and Llankelly Place, which is a real hole-in-the-wall spot and looks to have a better vibe going and also $20 pizza and wine deals between 5-7pm – not that I’m out of work by then L. There are also plenty of (what I consider) better pizza offerings around the area, for example Bar Reggio has a better atmosphere, value and service, or Lucios for something a bit more upmarket and with staff who care (both to be reviewed in the future). We felt like Mad Pizza couldn’t decide if it was a bar or a restaurant – restaurant prices but bar-style service and indifference. In Mad Cow’s defence, the lunch menu looks to be good value and it also was doing a steady trade on the night we were there, so they must be doing something right for these patrons.