OPA not so Opa!

OPA Kipos is a promising new Greek restaurant in Mumbai with great décor and food — but they need to up their service game. 
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So my experience at OPA was mixed.

We had a reservation from 8pm to 10pm, confirmed in writing. I got a call that morning from a very brusque-sounding lady, insisting our reservation was for 7.30pm as they don’t give tables at 8pm. When I tried to explain to her that I had it in writing from the restaurant, she said that was wrong. Also, that we must leave by 9.30pm latest. The lady then went on to read out a laundry list of don’ts. I’m sure this is an outsourced service which has no clue on how to address a customer of a fine-dining restaurant.

Opa kipos,mumbai has a stunning santorini-like vibe
OPA Kipos has a stunning Santorini-like vibe.

The ambience/décor as soon as you walk in is transformative…full marks for that.

We had reserved a table of four but were seated on a table of six. The waiter said we will not regret the extra space — we didn’t as the tableware is XL. We requested the two extra chairs to be removed. On sitting I found I had sat on a puddle of something…the chair was wet! The tapestry is all white and as I sat admiring the décor, I missed the grey patch. Thankfully, I realised in seconds and was wearing a very dark denim so was saved the discomfort of spending the rest of the evening wet bottomed with the embarrassment of a wet patch at an awkward place. The staff offered no apology. In fact, they took forever to clear the extra two chairs (wet one included).

Santorini salad at opa kipos, mumbai
Santorini Salad at OPA Kipos

The restaurant was about 25-30 percent occupied but they did not have enough menus. We were offered only two very well-used menus to share over a large table. The waiter was rather obtrusive hanging at the table and giving unsolicited advice till we shooshed him. I sensed then that the service standards that evening would be below par of a fine dine. All waiters wore masks but as soon as they approached the table they lowered them to speak! So much for masks and hygiene.

Grilled baby chicken at opa kipos,mumbai
Grilled baby chicken at OPA Kipos

Our waiter was not trained on taking a drinks order. The bar was not well stocked either; the spirits I requested were all out of stock. My guest ordered a very common white Pinot Grigio — not available. The waiter suggested with great aplomb, “Madam, try the Merlot. It’s very tasty.”

Manti, or traditional turkish dumplings, at opa kipos,mumbai
Manti, or traditional Turkish dumplings, at OPA

Orders placed, the drinks took longer than expected to get to us. The starters took forever. The mains forever and ever. The desert…alas…and this was when the restaurant was not full.

As we settled in with our drinks and some sparkling conversation, we realised we were not talking anymore but shouting at each other — the music had slowly gone loud and getting louder.

There were a bunch of free waiters in their Greek attire and managers in boring, awfully fitted dark suits standing in the speaker-clear area of the restaurant having a good old banter. I failed to get their attention till I did the SOS thing — stand and wave my hands wildly. I asked, “Sir, can we please request the volume of the music be lowered so we can speak to each other?” No chance. The music kept getting louder. We even stopped shouting across the table. Then suddenly the managers and waiters realised it’s time to clap and force some atmosphere and that’s what they did.

Prawn saganaki at opa kipos,mumbai
Prawn Saganaki at OPA Kipos

So, at around 9pm, with a half-full restaurant, the music was taken up to deafening levels and there was a sporting attempt at a Zorba dance, plate breaking, etc. Credit to the staff for trying to force an atmosphere so early in the evening but to a discerning modern diner it was downright disturbing and the end of the promising experience it was promised to be. Perhaps if the place was packed and it was past 11.30pm it would have been appropriate. It takes an astute restaurant manager to know when the time is right to break the sound barrier and convert a restaurant atmosphere from fine dining to night club. Scores of restaurants around the world do this right. OPA unfortunately messes this up.

Thank the Lord for the food and plating. OPA gets this right. The cuisine was outstanding.

The best of our long order:

Lamb Kebabs wrapped in a phyllo pastry…the pastry crumbled only at the right pressure and the mince kebab was bursting with flavours of cardamom and other spices.

Flaming Cheese, flamed at the table, was just right. Not too charred, the hint of peppers and tomatoes added just the right balance to its salt quotient. 

Opa's lamb chops are excellent
OPA’s lamb chops are excellent

Our (medium done) lamb chops were a real surprise. The chops were plump, perfectly done, just the right pink, no fat to ruin the meat’s flavour. I could compare them to the finest I have had. The accompanying grilled aubergine and peppers were perfectly done too — just the right crisp and grill flavour. Kudos.

For dessert we indulged in an OPA Baklava Sundae. It’s a must have. The pastry — fluffy, crumbly and aromatic — was perfectly baked, hot on the outside with fabulous creamy yet light ice cream on the inside….and the Baklava was spread throughout. A saving grace to an otherwise headbanging and forced evening.

The food gets 7/10. So hats off to the chef and kitchen. They lost two marks thanks to the delay in getting the food to the table.

The service gets 2/10.

The ambience would have got 8/10 if they had controlled the sound but thanks to an over-zealous or deaf DJ, I give it 1/10.

My sincere recommendations to the owners/managers of OPA:

Run a training programme for the staff.

Opa's baklava sundae is to die for, the perfect finish to the meal
OPA’s Baklava Sundae is to die for, the perfect finish to the meal

The first seating should be all about the food and service. Give the three hours over to the Chef. And please get your wine list right. And stock your bar. Flood it with the best. The diners will come. Hand out crisp clean menus, one for each diner — no 1 x 2. Get rid of the synthetic cafeteria tablecloth and table napkins currently being used and get some fine-dining white linen.

The second seating should be a barn-stopping night out with great small plates and mezze platters, terrific service, dance, music and ear plugs for audiophiles.

Please supply envelopes to store masks as diners eat and drink. Please ensure the chairs and tables are dry before offering them to a guest.

Also, keep a few bouncers to keep guests who get carried away in check. We had a group of four young, hot-blooded men who started throwing their plates all over the restaurant including chinaware, endangering other guests while the managers just smiled and looked on. It took a lady from the staff to raise her voice (above the DJ din) to subdue them from trashing the surroundings and risking blood on the floor.

OPA needs help if it wants the sun to rise on its very Santorini setting again and again and again….

Address: OPA Kipos, Wadia International Centre, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Kamagar Nagar Number 1, Worli, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400025

Reservations: +91-7208881161/62/63, opakiposmumbai@sbeh.in

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