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“Restaurant Meal & Cocktail Bar only - over-cooked steak, frequent fire alarms, blocked fire exit... not good value”

The Restaurant at Sopwell House
Ranked #57 of 333 Restaurants in St Albans
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$46 - US$78
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: After-hours, Reservations
Description: The Restaurant at Sopwell House is located in a stunning Georgian country house in St Albans. With its high ceilings and classic, sleek decor and AA Rosette award-winning status, The Restaurant serves modern British and European cuisine. Opening Hours: Lunch: 12:30pm to 3:00pm on Sunday, Wednesday & Friday. Dinner: 7:00pm to 9.30Pm on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
London, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
133 reviews
84 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 276 helpful votes
“Restaurant Meal & Cocktail Bar only - over-cooked steak, frequent fire alarms, blocked fire exit... not good value”
Reviewed 23 November 2011

Oops - accidentally initially posted this in the Hotel Review section - have now copied across to the Restaurant Review section (eg this one)

Restaurant Meal and Cocktail Bar only - over-cooked steak, frequent fire alarms, blocked fire exit, very limited wine list, poor wine advice, not good value for money.


Positives:
Staff were very generally very friendly and helpful - they almost all had their hearts in the right place.
Food was ok.

Negatives:
Staff didn't know where the disabled car parking spaces are (I still don't, do they have any?).
When sat in the cocktail bar, took a long time to be asked what we would like to drink (eg > 15 mins and they were not busy).
Ordered a medium-rare steak, received a medium-well-done steak (no pink at all); the steak was good quality meat, just not cooked as ordered.
Very limited wine list (<10 reds).
Head waiter seemed to have either 1) very little knowledge of limited wine list (eg inappropiate recommendations), and/or, 2) mercenary instinct to just recommend the most expensive bottles on the wine-list (which were the least appropiate wines...).
The fire alarm went off twice during the early part of the meal, this was ignored by the staff (does this mean it is a regular occurrence?) - is this the reason why my steak was over-cooked?
The fire exit I could see from my table was blocked by another table being in front of it - this is VERY worrying.
Waiting staff were not co-ordinated - eg one waitress would ask a question (for example, would you like black pepper, and we would answer 'no thank you'), within 90 seconds a second waitress would appear and ask the same question.

Summary:
For ok-ish food, imperfect service, and a very poor wine list it is extremely expensive.
Restaurant & bars in this hotel have enormous potential, unfortunately this potential has not yet been realised.

  • Visited November 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank AlexRJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PhilipCox, General Manager at The Restaurant at Sopwell House, responded to this review, 25 November 2011
Thank you for your feedback following your recent meal at Sopwell House. I have reviewed your comments with my Food and Beverage Manager and the points you have raised in respect of the wine list, the way your steak was cooked and order of service will be addressed within the department immediately. Indeed our new extended wine list was already in production and will be launching this weekend.

I am pleased that you found the staff to be friendly and helpful, but I am disappointed that whoever you spoke to could not direct you to the disabled parking bays given that they are located just outside the main entrance to the hotel.

The fire alarm activation is not a regular occurence, but all staff are trained to initially ignore the alarm when it initially sounds as the management / fire warden team on duty will take the necessary action to investigate why the alarm had sounded. I'm sorry if this disturbed you and I can assure you that the table near the fire exit in The Restaurant is the necessary distance from the door to enable easy exit should it be required.

I do hope that you will return to Sopwell again soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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203 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Hertfordshire
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“A fantastic evening, wonderful service, great food”
Reviewed 2 July 2010

The events team organised a 40th Birthday celebration in the Restaurant and what a fantastic job they did. The events team, the chef, the restaurant staff and all involved helped to make the evening a truly memorable experience. No detail was overlooked and I thank the team for all their help.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank HertfordshireJames
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PhilipCox, General Manager at The Restaurant at Sopwell House, responded to this review, 5 July 2010
Thank you for your wonderful feedback.

I am really pleased that the whole team looked after you to ensure your birthday celebration exceeded your expectations.

I look forward to welcoming you back in the not too distant future.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Liverpool
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“A special occasion marred by disappointing service”
Reviewed 16 August 2009

I am perhaps missing the point - if you go somewhere posh maybe receiving arrogant service is part of the experience, but I would have preferred to feel looked after and valued. It was a lovely setting and I feel that good customer service would fit well in such a beautiful place. Instead it was a rather awkward experience, faintly embarrassing for us all.
The head waiter (or whatever his official title was) argued at length with the organiser of our party in front of all of us about what he may or may not have said to us on the phone when we booked. Irrelevant really as it didn't effect what we were going to order anyway, and rude - even if he was convinced he was correct surely he has been trained to behave as if the customer is always right? I certainly expected him to behave as such so was very surprised at this childish reaction.
Also, as we were a large party, several tables had been pushed together for us, yet covered with a large tablecloth so that it appeared to be one large table and the uneven joins well disguised. This looked good but of course meant that as parts of the table were at different levels from other parts plates and glasses could not always be put down safely, and unsurprisingly a glass of wine tipped over from being placed on a well disguised join. The head waiter did clear this up with good humour (after one of us had gone off to find him or someone to help us as we had been left alone for quite some time and no staff had noticed the incident) but offered nothing in recompense. I suggested a few times that it would be great if he could replace the wine glass, preferably filled as it had been previously but with wine freely provided by the restaurant (It seemed to me that this would serve as a suitable apology for their dodgy table setting and restore the tone of the evening without making one member of our party feel singled out). The head waiter completely ignored my suggestion, not even bothering to replace with an empty wine glass until once again one of us went off to find another member of staff to give us an empty glass. Again, I was surprised as I was expecting that regardless of whose fault they actually thought it was, in a fancy place like that they would be extra nice and happily replace the glass with a full one off their own bat.
The food was ok, nothing special really although nothing wrong with it certainly and it was nicely displayed. The tea and coffee afterwards were actually not very nice at all, though served in a delightful setting.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank CSS123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hertfordshire
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Terribly disapointed”
Reviewed 11 August 2009

I went to lunch at Sopwell House on Sunday, we were a party of 12 family and friends and had a reservation in the Carvery.

It was a very important occasion as we were there to remember a close friend who has sadly passed away. It was one of his favourite places, he celebrated many family occasions there and in fact his daughter was married at Sopwell House.

The standard has dropped dramatically, at 2pm they had run out of meat, which seems unbelievable in a Carvery!! The staff were surly and couldn't have cared less, in fact a waitress dropped a plate of food down my back and didn't seem bothered at all. We eventually had to leave as there was nothing to eat and had to find somewhere else, which obviously ruined this special day. I would not go back to Sopwell House and suggest you avoid the place at all costs

Helpful?
4 Thank SueHertfordshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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