The Great British Restaurant Scene (or food faux pas no.1)

I’ve just come back from a very, VERY disappointing lunch, and decided to have a little rant about it. 

What is it about mid-range British restaurants?! The ‘eatery’ (I can’t bring myself to call it a restaurant) that my colleagues and I just got back from (under our offices, FYI), is one of the worst offenders. A dauntingly big menu set off alarm bells immediately, as did the fact they’d run out of the first three things I ordered. 4th choice was a platter of roasted squash, red onion and goat’s cheese and my friend plumped for fish pie – one of the most offensive versions of this beloved dish I’ve had the misfortune to come across. It had been sitting in the dish so long the outside had gone black, and was covered with the sort of cheese you usually only find on a fast food burger (still in its pre-sliced strips, no less.)

However, worse was yet to come. After rooting around for a good five minutes, my friend finally found the fish. That is, she found what appeared to be a whole can of tuna that had been dumped unceremoniously in the middle. Tinned tuna? In a fish pie?!  If this is what the British public deems acceptable I’m hanging up my apron.

Mine was almost as bad. Rather than the bountiful platter of lovingly roasted veg I’d been looking forward to, what appeared was some teeny tiny pieces of squash, coated to suffocation in inexplicably tasteless oil and half-heartedly chucked together with a bit of mouldy old goats’ cheese and some raw red onion. How appealing.

So did we complain?, I hear you say…The answer, of  course, is no. We’re English. As a nation we will sit and put up with bad service, bad food and bad wine with a beatific smile of gratitude on our faces. The only thing we won’t put up with, is bad manners. Fortunately, our waiter looked a little like Joe from X –Factor, so naturally we couldn’t think badly of him at all.

I would welcome similar food rants about gastric atrocities near you. Shall we name and shame?!



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9 responses to “The Great British Restaurant Scene (or food faux pas no.1)

  1. Love the article. Keep up the good work! Thanks!

  2. Cescy

    I partook in a meal at my local Wetherspoons and was very, very disappointed. Whether this qualifiers as a restaurant or not is certainly open to debate though.

  3. TSI

    Judging from your picture I think I know where you have been for lunch. We have been there too had had a bad experience too. Four of us went for lunch in our lunch hour and ordered burgers & chips – fool proof right? Oh no! The waiter seated us straight away getting our drinks order and came back 5 minutes later to take our very simple food order. We waited and waited and after 30 minutes reminded the waiter, to which he responded, “o it’s on it’s way”. Another 10 minutes passed and we then told him we only have 1 hour for lunch and he said ‘it will be right here…’ The 3rd time, we asked to speak to the manager as it was now an whole hour later (they clearly forgotten about us) and she apologised and offer to give us the drinks free (4 non-alcoholic cool drinks!) to which we replied that they will have to do better than that! In the end they agreed that they will not charge us for anything and we left with our ‘gourmet burgers and chips’ in polystyrene takeaway boxes and had to eat them back at our desks – very disappointing! I am so glad we did not pay for them because they were so greasy and very off-putting so none of us finished our meal. It is such a shame because I actually really like the look of the place, it’s got a great atmosphere, fabulous furniture and is always packed. But I wouldn’t go there for a meal.

  4. janet

    smollenskys on the strand…good steak but was put off by the mouse running around the restaurant floor eeewww! Told the bar man and he didn’t seem to care -nice! Won’t be going back there again.

  5. Lindy O'Hare

    I think it is important to let the restaurant know your thoughts, both bad and good. Otherwise they’ll never change or grow, and you’ll become bitter and resentful. More often than not, if one offers constructive criticism a discount will be given, or free wine etc. This way everybody wins! Yay for honesty!

  6. Jennifer Smith

    I have had a few bad experiences in my time. I went to a restaurant in Kensington once and was served sausages without accompanying vinegar. I thought it was quite shocking. I mean, everyone knows that sausages and vinegar go alarmingly well together. And when I asked for some, they produced some awful salad dressing. YUCK

  7. Farouk

    I was with some friends in Belgium, in the Ardennes on a ‘Gastronomic Weekend’. We arrived to a welcome of some stale crisps and a bottle of Champagne which tasted more like Sarah Miles favourite tipple. When asked what was ‘Gastronomic’ about this we were told that we couldn’t eat more than one gastronomic meal because it was so exquisitely extensive our respective constitutions wouldn’t cope.
    After a night punctuated by the arrival in our ensuite of what appeared to be the rest of the hotel’s effluent every time the occupants of the other rooms went to the loo we worked up an appetite by a long walk in the beautiful surrounding countryside.
    On presenting ourselves for aperitifs it became immediately apparent that Sarah Miles was a frequent visitor, this time coloured with Kir. It was no more palatable. On to the dinner when a succession of dishes so appalling, so aesthetically bereft, so tasteless, so absolutely bloody awful became the straw which broke the camel’s back. Notwithstanding the fact we were English and in a foreign country, we complained. We were immediately offered the business, hotel and all for a knock down price.
    It turned out that the ‘chef’ was habitually legless in the shed in the garden and that the two owners were in the process of a divorce.
    We declined.

  8. Jon

    I feel your pain. It was a while ago now, but I remember the food in Dans le Noir was awful. The fact that it is pitch black and you can’t see your food seemed to have given them the impression that serving up a poor pub-standard roast dinner and charging a fortune for it was acceptable. And I got sworn at by a waitress for asking politely for some wine. She seemed to have not realised that whist I couldn’t see, I could still hear her cursing under her breath.

    To be fair I did get all of our wine for free when I complained.

  9. Sweet lord of all that is holy – tinned tuna? Are you sure? Is this establishment actually qualified to serve humans or is it a restaurant for cats with an adjacent grooming parlour? pfft.

    Went out for a lovely Vietnamese last night, and apart from the psychedelic wallpaper, it was excellent. Unfortunately I went to see some live music afterwards, I say music, I mean noise. I was quite tempted to ask the band for a refund.

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