Today it was the birthday of a friend and colleague and it was a birthday that you celebrate the age! So 7 of us went out to lunch at a 'posh' restaurant. I say 'posh' because there has been a lot of press about this restaurant and it has been reported that the chef is being paid mega bucks in the hope that the restaurant will gain a michelin star. When I booked the table 4 days before, I asked if the chef would be able to cater for a vegan, I was amazed by the response "the chef will only cook what's on the menu". I was then handed the menu and was advised that there was chicken salad, fish dishes and olives and feta cheese. I was astonished, and it was obvious that the person dealing with me had no idea what a vegan was. I asked again if the chef could prepare anything for me as there was nothing on the menu which was an obvious vegan choice. Again I was told that the chef would only cook what was on the menu so I replied that other restaurants had been more than happy to cater for a vegan and the individual responded "What do you want!". I bit my tongue and said that the easiest thing the chef could do was either a vegetable stir fry or a vegetarian mushroom risotto without cheese and cream. This was then typed into the booking database by the rather unpleasant individual.
When we arrived I had little faith as the previous conversation had left me flabbergasted with the rudeness and lack of help from the individual. Considering I had previously advised that we would be celebrating a birthday we were ushered into the back room and our view was looking out onto the back which was the tradesman's entrance. We wouldn't have minded but the restaurant was empty! We were not made very welcome and our drinks order was taken. Two of us ordered a diet coke and another a regular coke. The same individual I had dealt with 4 days ago was our waitress. On bringing the drinks to the table we were advised that they were out of stock of two drinks and she held in her hand a glass of coke. She said "coke?" and we asked if it was a diet coke or a regular coke, she just replied "coke". We asked her again but got no further detail so assumed it was the regular coke.
Our food order was taken next and before I could request my vegan option the order was repeated and concluded until I piped up and said and my order is............ It really was like the individual couldn't be bothered with us. I asked what my vegan options were and was advised that it could either by a vegetable stir fry or the mushroom risotto, so she had obviously remembered me. I answered that I would like the risotto and thanked her.
When the food was delivered to the table we were astonished at the portion sizes and one of our party who had ordered a standard vegetarian mushroom risotto asked if her dish was the large portion or the small portion. She was told that it was a portion, so asked the question again and was rewarded with "its a portion". On the third time of asking the waitress to clarify if the portion was a large portion like she had ordered she was told that it was a standard portion and on the fourth time of asking was finally advised that it was a large portion. We all had to contain our laughter as the portion wasn't enough for a child! At just under £10 we were horrified! When my vegan version of the mushroom risotto arrived it was even smaller and there was no garnish to replace the parmasan crisp of the standard version. Thinking about it I don't know how they can claim the standard mushroom risotto is vegetarian if it is garnished with a parmasan crisp. I think I counted 14 times that I ate a fork of risotto and no fork was a full fork!
Throughout the meal our conversation centered around the poor service, small servings and unhelpful staff, although our conversation was of an up beat nature and we were laughing at the situation we found ourselves in. Whilst we were eating a man walked through the restaurant with two very large see through sacks of butchered meat, and a tradesman walked in through the back door and left the door wide open which believe me in January in England is not the done thing! It's freezing! We decided not to leave a tip, which we have NEVER done before. One of our party went to deliver the bill and advise why we weren't leaving a tip. The feedback was welcomed but no suggestion of putting things right. We were told that the individual who we found rude and unhelpful was the manageress, but nothing was said to alleviate the disappointment we all felt. It was a good job that we could all laugh about it really! None of our party will be going back to experience the unpleasant staff, who treated us with no respect and the extremely small portions for a large price. Ahhh the penny has dropped perhaps that's why the restaurant was empty!