I just heard some really disturbing news from a close friend. Last night, he and his wife went to a restaurant that my wife and I had introduced to him, Trattoria La Fiandra, on Prinsep Street. It’s a tiny little Italian place run by a husband and wife team. It serves good food at reasonable prices. The interior seats maybe 20 (they also have a number of outdoor tables). And unless the interior has changed radically since my last visit, the décor is pretty simple: Italian tourism posters on the walls, plastic tablecloths, and an air conditioner that makes just a tad too much noise. We liked it though because it was the kind of simple neighborhood place where you could just walk in no matter how you looked or what you were wearing and expect a good meal.
Well, that’s all changed. Last night, our friends went to La Fiandra, only to be insulted and shocked beyond belief. According to them, after having been seated at one of the indoor tables, the owner’s wife surprised them by informing them that there was now a dress code at the restaurant, and if they wanted to be served, since the husband was wearing a t-shirt, shorts and tevas, she would prefer it if they could sit out in the courtyard. Since Singapore’s been faced with a rather shocking heatwave of late, our friends apologized for not knowing about the “new” dress code but asked if this time—and seeing as they were regular patrons—might eat inside. To their amazement, according to them, the owner’s wife rather rudely informed them that when dining in her restaurant, she would like them “to follow her rules”.
I’ve eaten in La Fiandra many times, as has my whole family. My brother and I have been there many times in shorts. The restaurant as I said, to me, is pretty humble. No polished silver or fine linen here! So, to impose a dress code in a place with plastic tablecloths seems, to me, a tad ridiculous (a quick phonecall has confirmed a no shorts and no slipper policy). But to insult return customers is simply inexcusable. I, for one, will never go back to La Fiandra. Nor will my friends, whom I’m happy to say walked out and ate somewhere else.