Safari Room, Newport, RI – A Bad Restaurant Review

- Safari Room - by We don't go to "nice" places much, but we are no strangers to "fancy" restaurants. Needless to say, it let us down. Rating: 1/5

I apologize to everyone who reads this blog for the tech / web development content.  The following is something I felt the need to post regarding a bad restaurant experience I had (I have some obligatory tie in’s to web development, but this is mostly a restaurant review).

This past weekend, the wife and I were looking forward to having dinner at a new restaurant for us, Safari Restaurant & Lounge at OceanCliff in Newport, RI.  We don’t go to “nice” places much, but we are no strangers to “fancy” restaurants.  Needless to say, it let us down.

Safari Restaurant & Lounge

We made a reservation for 7pm on Saturday night on OpenTable (a complaint about OpenTable is coming later).

Being a web geek, I insist on researching everything so I read reviews and descriptions.  There were a handful of negative experiences out there, but we all know people tend to amplify their negative feelings (I hope I’m not one).  Mostly reviews were positive, the description sounded nice (from the OpenTable Description):

Welcome to exclusive, upscale dining in an unparalleled setting. We have ventured far and wide to bring you excellence. Your menu is your passport. Your table is your transport and our servers, your tour guide, bringing you the exotic, the acclaimed and the unique variety of the world well traveled. Our culinary team utilizes only the finest ingredients to make each dish distinct, creating a unique sense of culture and place in every bite. We buy the best and prepare each dish to order: fine European cheeses, exotic Far East spices, decadent cuts of prime meats and fresh local seafood are delivered daily. Relax with a sunset cocktail, enjoy a thoughtfully coursed meal, and redefine romance while telling us of your travels.

We arrive for the 7pm reservation at 7:05pm (yes, we were late, we hit about 30 min of traffic in Newport because I wanted to “follow the yellow line” in my GPS).

We were sat immediately.  The restaurant was different, but the view was fantastic (overlooking the Castle Hill Cove, with Jamestown on the horizon).

After sitting for 10 minutes, a manager (we think it was) came over to let us know our waitress would be right over, and asked us if we wanted water.

Our waitress followed soon after to take our order.  This is where things started to go wrong.  My wife ordered the Shrimp Pad Thai (without Shrimp, damn vegetarians).  To our surprise, the waitress told us that the Pad Thai hadn’t been getting good reviews.  The wife asked what they did for vegetarians (a common question when we go out).  The waitress didn’t know, so she left to ask (she was new, and training … understanable).

She returned, we both ordered our Cheese Plate, Vegetarian Generic Dish (ugh), and the Pan Seared Ahi Tuna, along with a glass of house wine, and a martini.

She left, never to be heard from again.

We sat for the next 25 minutes without anything.  Our drink orders were nowhere to be seen (I’m happy to wait for food if I can get a drink or 2).  Painfully we watched some other tables (mostly those tables out on the patio, we thought they had some sort of special status to sit there and get service) get served food, drinks, and bowls of bread.

Frequently we saw both the manager and the waitress standing around.

After having been in the restaurant for almost 40 minutes without even our drink order, we decided to get up and leave.  Not bolting for the door, we walked casually out.  No one even asked why we were leaving, just left.

This is not the type of service I would expect when I was sure the bill was going to be over $150.

OpenTable had Removed our Reservation

That was bad enough after driving through traffic for an hour in Newport for dinner, but THEN I found out OpenTable wouldn’t let me review the restaurant.  This is mostly what infuriated me.  I can understand OpenTable requires you to eat at a restaurant in order to provide a review, but we showed up, gave them 40 minutes to deliver us nothing, and we left.  I feel that qualifies me as able to review a restaurant.

Needless to say I wouldn’t recommend the restaurant, and wanted to make sure people knew that those reviews saying service was “spotty”, were very accurate.  I think 40 minutes is too long to be seated at a table, not to even receive drink orders.

To end the night, the wife and I ended up at a restaurant we normally go to, had bread and wine in under 5 minutes from walking in the door.

Safari Restaurant
65 Ridge Road
Newport, RI






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4 Comments to Safari Room, Newport, RI – A Bad Restaurant Review

Sean, having worked in the restaurant industry for 11 years, it sounds like that review is well-deserved. If a server is standing around talking while you sit at your table for 40 minutes without her stopping by to check on you, refill water, offer an explanation, and basically kiss your rear end for the wait, she’s in the wrong business, and won’t last long.

A manager who allows a server to stand around isn’t doing a good job of managing a dining room. Even if the restaurant were slow, the server would be busy doing what’s called “side work.” And there’s always plenty of that to be done in a restaurant!

I’d call the restaurant if I were you, to let them know of your experience. They’d want to know.

August 15, 2011

Thanks, I really was hoping someone would ask us what was wrong when we were leaving (the restaurant wasn’t full at all). I think I will call them to let them know (it’s the most productive thing I could do). I tweeted to them about it, hoping they’d respond in some way — even just an apology saying it wasn’t normal. Unfortunately I’ve seen a handful of reviews saying the same type of thing, problems with service. I can only assume management makes it tough for any of the waitstaff to stay on board (this is entirely conjecture).

Safari Room
September 7, 2011

On behalf of the management team at the Safari Room Restaurant, we would sincerely like to apologize for the level of service that you experienced. We strive for excellence and agree that your visit was not in keeping with the expectations of restaurant and the OceanCliff Hotel.

We greatly appreciate the time you spent sharing your comments on your personal blog. Your patronage is very much appreciated and we regret that your impression might be a negative one.

It is unfortunate that restaurants do at times fail to provide perfect service to our honored guests. Please be assured that your comments have been voiced to the Chief Operating Officer and all levels of management within the company. We will take every precaution in the future to improve our service to ensure that this issue is not repeated.

We would like to personally speak with you at your earliest convenience, please call any member of the management team directly at 401.849.4873, or email us directly (

Our sincerest apologies, we look forward to to providing you with the Newport Experience you deserve.

The Management Team of The Safari Room

September 7, 2011

Thanks for the response. I will call as soon as I have a moment (lots of web projects right now).

I appreciate the followup and look forward to talking!

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