• 29Nov
    Venue The Mulberry
    Address Petworth Road, Chiddingfold, Surrey
    Score 6/10
    Food Evening dinner
    Group 4 Adults
    Date 29th November 2008

    The Mulberry restaurant is one of three restaurants owned by Chris Evans who, based upon what we saw last night, has made an effort in creating a pleasant dining experience. Its modern interior is clean and warm and service is provided by young friendly staff.

    The menu is expensive for what you get with starters about £7 to £10 and main meals ranging from £15 to £29. For that price you may expect something fancy – dont. The 4 starters were very pleasant, at least that was the opinion of the table, although from what I saw of the two prawn dishes there were only 3 medium size prawns, which looks mean. I think the prawn dish was about £8 so each prawn was £2.65 ish – they needed to be good! The starter I had was mussels and they were very good with tomatoey garlic suace base.

    For the mains two of us had pork belly and that was very disappointing as the meat was dry. What should be a great excuse to eat this very fatty but sweet meat i.e. the crackling this was rubbery. The other main dish was a steak which got the thumbs up as too did the other dish which was fish and chips.

    Then came the desserts, Oh dear! Back to catering college I am afraid Chef as these were the biggest culinary disappointment. We ordered two clafoutis which is a bit like a dropped sponge / thick pancake and it sounded good on the menu but it was stodgy and not a lot of flavour. Its a peasant food, and nothing wrong with that, but is better perhaps with morning coffee. The other two desserts were a chocolate flan type which failed to impress as too did the creme brulee.

    We had a couple of drinks each with dinner in preference to not ordering a bottle of wine and for this experience it was about £50 per head, £200 ish

    Wtih regards to the staff they were friendly but there was not enough of them which meant they were stretched to attend looking after some of the details important to waiting on tables. Simple things failed like the table adjacent to us were served their meals and the waiter walked off without checking to see that there was no cutlery or asking the table if they needed anything else.

    At the end of the meal we were asked if everything was ok we all said that the desserts were a big disappointment. I think if we had said that the world is coming to an end in 5 minutes then the response would have been much the same, so what! Train your staff to ask a question, fine, but you also have to train them to do something with the answer.  Simple and free stuff

    Conclusion

    Would we go again? Quite probably as there is a nice bar to sit at before dinner but if you were on a budget then its not for you. That said the more philanthropic of you might take solace in the fact that HALF of the profits from the restaurant are donated to a hospice charity, nice touch.

    Big thanks to John and Alison who paid the bill you were great company as ever.

    Improvements

    1. Staff need a formula to work to when waiting on tables
    2. Keep the duty manageress managing not waiting on tables
    3. The staff uniforms are a bit hit and miss
    4. The menus have tiny writing and in the evening this can be a challenge
    5. Once the restaurant gets busy the music should not compete with the throng of people enjoying each others company
    6. Review the desserts, the waiter let slip they are not all homemade
    7. When staff put glasses down on the table don’t hold the glass round the rim
    8. When guests move from the bar to their table the waiting staff should take the drinks through on a tray to the table
    9. If you train your staff to ask how the meal was then you need to train them to know what to do with the answers to the questions.
    10. When cooking belly pork, lay it on an oven grate / rack above a baking tray of water, never let it go dry. Make sure its well oiled and salted then bake in a high oven 220 ish for about 80mins. Last 10 mins drizzle some honey over the crackling and then grill to make the crackling crackle. Use the water in the tray as your base for whatever sauce/gravy. Could not be simpler, saw Marco Pierre White do it on tv (horrible man but great chef), tried it myself and its great!
    11. When serving drinks at the bar small nibbles would not go a miss, at those prices it can be done. It just says we care.
    Permalink Filed under: Bistro Tags: 1 Comment
  • 28Nov

    Venue The Bluebrick, Restaurant
    Address  
    Score 3/10
    Food Evening dinner
    Group 1 Adult
    Date 24th November 2008

    The Bluebrick Restaurant is affiliated with the Premier Inn chain and is your classic mid week sales rep on the road restaurant. Before I describe my experience I want to make clear that those working there are extremely friendly and provide you with some comfort that they have, rightly or wrongly, received some sort of training.

    The food is very disappointing as you would not be able to distinguish it from any Harvester eatery except there is no ‘fill your boots’ carvery or salad bar, which is a good thing. My suggestion would be minimise the the culinary disappointment and stick with steak and chips as you don’t want anything that the chef would have to read on the side of a packet. Its the sort of place that Ricky Gervais would use as an ‘Office’ stage set. When it comes to dessert then its classic defrost from frozen and zap in the microwave.

    Accepting that the culinary experience is going to disappoint if you are an ale drinker then I can recommend the ‘Pedigree’.

    The dining environment fits the culinary experience which would not look out of place in a travellers caravan.

    I would like to reiterate that the staff are very nice and if only they were given something to serve that required a chef then this would be a winning and very popular venue.

    Conclusion

    Would I eat here again? Probably if I was to eat alone but certainly would not take guests there.

    Improvements

    1. Cook some fresh food
    2. Do away with that awful Harvester type menu
    3. Do something about that classic 1970’s look and feel to the restaurant
    4. Ask the chef what he/she thinks of the food. If they think its good then its time to find another but if they think its bad then you as an employer are remiss.

    Understanding your staff are your greatest asset, so well done to them, justhope they don’t get asked to join some swanky establishment and see what good food is really like.

    Permalink Filed under: Casual Dining Tags: 7 Comments
  • 24Nov
      Address The Seahorse
    Venue 52-54 The Street, Shalford, Guildford,
    Score 6/10
    Food Evening dinner
    Group 4 Adults
    Date 25th September 2008

     

    This is an incredibly popular pub as it does do somethings very well but it fails in delivering consistency. The food is OK and the dining environment is comfortable. The format and dining experience is similar to that of the Inn on the Lake in Godalming so it wont come as a surprise that each form part of a small group of pubs which suffers in delivering consistency.

    If you get your timing right you can have a good time with service and food. We turned up for a very early evening meal about 17:50 and the restaurant was empty understably. As there was nobody to greet us at the door we made our way through to the restaurant and asked if we could sit down. “No” we were told and told to go and sit in the bar as the restaurant was not open until 18:00 – thats right we had to wait 10 minutes. Like naughty school children we went back into the bar and waited. Interestingly once we sat down the restaurant was taken over by the staff who were then told by the head chef what food was being served that evening. As you don’t see this very often it is worth noting as it indicates that there is some form of communication being maintained between the kitchen and front of house staff.

    Once the staff briefing had been completed at 18:15, yes thats 15 minutes after the restaurant should have opened we were then asked if we would like to go through. We were the first in and you would expect the restaurant to be spotless but unfortunately this was not the case. As we were shown the table there was food and used napkin underneath the table. Its just sloppy and unnecessary.

    During the meal we had to look for a waiter twice to get more drinks and when it came to the bill we had to ask for it twice. Once we had the bill we had to go to the bar and then had to wait an unreasonable amount of time to pay when there were staff just milling around. If there was a restaurant manager working he/she was no different from the staff waiting on tables so there was no one person orchestrating proceedings.

    I must say the pictures in the gents toilets are first class and would love to know where I could get them.

     

    Improvement Opportunities:

    1. Once the waiter puts the food on the table get them to ask if there is anything else required before running off
    2. Ensure the table and dining area is clean before the guests arrive
    3. Get a manager to manage and not wait on tables
    4. When waiting staff move through the dining area make sure they are aware that other tables may want their attention
    5. Pay more attention to those areas where they are tucked away
    6. Don’t just keep taking in more guests when there is not enough staff
    7. If the restaurant opens at 18:00 then don’t have your guests waiting until 18:15

    Conclusion

    We have eaten at the Seahorse on 5 or 6 occassions and will probably go again but only at the times when its not too busy as the wheels come off when too many people are allowed in.

    If you have also been to The Seahorse then please let us know what you think.

  • 23Nov
    Address Zum Gupf
    Venue Gasthaus zum Gupf AG, CH-9038 Rehetobel, Switzerland
    Score 9/10
    Food Bed breakfast and evening dinner
    Group 6 Adults
    Date 7th August 2008

    You wont find finer anywhere in Europe you will only find an equal.

    There are not enough superlatives to describe how good this fine establishment is. We have stayed at Gupf on 3 occassions over the past 2 years and on every occassion it has not dissappointed. Its not easy to find which makes finding it all the more magical. The views are simply stunning with the Swiss style chalet hotel sits in its own grounds on which it farms and grows all its own pork, beef and dairy products.

    If you are a wine buff then the cellar is a state of the art connoisseur’s dream come true. The food is fabulous which is complimented with excellent service, the most amazing views and fabulous Swiss style chalet with warm cozy bedrooms.

    Be aware that the owners do not speak much English so booking is a challenge. If you were interested and needed some help then we can probably put you in touch with some people who can do all the hard work!

    Improvement Opportunities:

    1. None

    Conclusion

    Happy to recommend this establishment if you are looking for a warm intimate friendly atmosphere that to date has not disappointed.

    If you have also been to Gupf then please let us know what you think.

  • 23Nov
     Joanna's Address Joanna’s
    Venue 56 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace, London SE19 1RX
    Score 9/10
    Food Evening Dinner
    Group 10 Adults
    Date 14th November 2008

    To all those wannabee restaurateurs take a visit to Joanna’s. They pretty much do everything you would want from boutique restaurant that has a tremendous warmth and a host that takes pride in what he manages.

    From the moment you walk through the door you are served by staff that look the part and have a professional courteous attitude that is so rare today.

    On the time we went we booked as a party of 7 and without warning 3 friends dropped by and without any fuss extra seats were found and the table extended. Our apologies for this as the restaurant was very busy and the host ‘Wills’ who manages the restaurant was very obliging, thanks.

    Improvement Opportunities:

    1. None

    Conclusion

    Happy to recommend this establishment if you are looking for a warm intimate friendly atmosphere that to date has not disappointed.

    If you have been to Joanna’s then please let us know what you think

    Permalink Filed under: Bistro Tags: 1 Comment