On walking in at around 1:30 on a Thursday we were greeted by a very pleasant young lady who welcomed us and asked my name, I told her my name and said that I had not booked, we were told it would be 35-45 mins before we could have a table, we were given a vibrating box and took a table near the bar and had drinks. The 2 chaps behind the bar were very chatty and welcoming.
Its really nicely decorated and we felt we were in a high class hotel restaurant, rather than a chain eatery on an industrial estate.
Our vibrating box thing went mad after about 30 mins, so that was quite good, the fact that they told us 35-45 mins and called us earlier, we were then taken to a table in a busy part or the dining area and noticed there were 3 other sections not being used, it puzzled me as there were 2-3 behind the bar, at least 4 waiting staff and a brigade of at least 5 chefs! and there must have been some poor chap in the sink. I worked it out and came to the conclusion there were 3 customers per member of staff?? and yet we had to wait for a table?
I was with a friend and my daughter and all decided there was enough choice on the lunchtime special menu, as we had to get up and go and ask for a menu whilst we were waiting for the table, though it looked like this wasn`t the case for the 2 other parties of 2-3 waiting for tables, surely you would give people menus to peruse whilst waiting, its a big complicated menu, but all that said the waitress did bring us menus and ask if we had dined there before, we said no, and she went on to say "We are predominantly a steak house (I would never have guessed this, because I would obviously not have noticed every single wall was adorned with sketches of bulls) and here's all the steaks etc. then said for those of you who don`t want steak, there's burgers on the back"
We ordered 2 Mushrooms, 1 Calamari and a Bread Platter to share for starters, we all enjoyed the starters though the bread did seem to be all cut from the same loaf and toasted to within a second of its life, dry and unable to soak up any of the dips it came with.
I ordered the steak for my main, I was asked how I would like it cooked and was told I could have it pink or well done, that's the only way we do steaks here! I thought that was quite bizarre for a "Steak house" Being a chef myself and not only getting orders for Blue, Rare, medium Rare, Medium, medium to well, and well done, I had a customer the other day who wanted it Rare to Medium Rare (they then went on to tell me that was the best steak they had ever had!) but I digress, I opted for "pink" as rare or medium rare would normally be my choice, well when it came, the waitress placed the plate on the table and the whole meal slid to one end of the plate, leaving the other half of the plate completely empty, and it wasn`t a very big plate to start with, to say it was a small portion was a joke, I have never in all my years as a chef (36) seen steak cut so thin! oh yes I have! I bought some Italian Bresaola Beef the other day, the actual "steak knife" serve with the meal was thicker than the steak! It was like taking an electric plane to file your nails, or a chain saw to cut up a cardboard box!
I wasn`t expecting a huge meal from the lunchtime specials menu, but I had hope for a little more, once I had lifted the steak off the few chips it was served on and placed it on the plate, it actually looked like a pattern on the plate, as it was only about 1mm thick, the steak was accompanied by a few chips, the unpeeled frozen variety of French style fries, and lets not forget the sixth of a slice of tomato grilled/baked and served cold, described on the menu as a "Balsamic Glazed Beef Tomato" a Beef Tomato it was not! and a miniscule sprig of lettuce, the steak was served with "Beef Dripping" which was in fact butter as far as I could ascertain.
Now, £10.95 for 2 courses, I wasn't expecting to be stuffed but having paid an extra £2.50 supplement for the steak (Presumably cut by Gillette) I did expect a little more, even a few more chips wouldn't have broken the Chefs budget, or even serve the steak in a bun at 12p cost would have bulked the plate out a little.
With all that said, I have to say, the 30 day aged steak was probably one of the tastiest steak I`ve eaten, I really enjoyed both mouthfuls, and though I felt the lunchtime menu was more like a child portion, I won`t let this deter me from going again. Though I will be choosing from the main menu!
I don`t know if the waitresses electronic notepad had told her to come and ask if we wanted more drinks, but she came over to the table glaring down at her hand held device and asked if we would like any more drinks, then she raised her head and saw we all had just been served a second drink and realised she was too late. All the staff were lovely and very polite, well dressed, well mannered and helpful, we couldn`t fault the service, or the quality of the food, but I can`t understand with a team as good as you have, you only open half of the dining area, I know you are probably going to say, you don`t want to put too much pressure on the kitchen, but there were plenty staff to cope with a few more, especially when so much money has been spent on a very good refurbishment.
We did see a table who were seated, having been waiting for a table near us earlier, they were presented with menus as they sat at the table, proceeded to read the menu and then got up and left? Maybe a staff member should have asked why, then the issues that caused them to leave could be addressed.
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