I don’t usually do reviews on Trip Advisor which are not of a positive nature , so this is a rarity me and I will endeavour to be factual and objective. There is a duplicate listing for this restaurant under “The Waterside” so a similar review is listed there too.
I have been to the Waterside on probably 10 or so occasions since April 14. For the first 5 or 6 occasions it has been OK , nothing special though and a little disappointing given that it is on the pricey side for what you get. However, it’s convenient; a 2 minute walk from the apartment and very much in it’s favour is that, unlike most other places in Monton, it has a decent sized beer garden which gets the sun on it in the evening.
A few weeks back we dined in the restaurant on a Friday evening. It wasn’t particularly busy , in fact most nights I have been in that has been the case. My partner and I ordered the “steak stones” where you get to cook your steak at your table on a really hot stone. Unfortunately the steak was as tough as old boots. We could not cut them even with the steak knives we were given . We sent them back and had duck instead which was fine, though not really what we wanted.
A fortnight ago, we ate out in the garden . I gave the steak stone another try and on the second occasion the steak was fine. My partner had fish and chips which came with a small amount of tartare sauce on the plate , which, from the presentation, we presumed was the chef’s own made. When my partner asked the waitress for some more, she was quite dismissive and pointed to the tub containing sachets of tomato sauce etc… and told us that there was some in there. I gave some feedback when I paid the bill that I thought her attitude was poor.
A week later , on another sunny evening, we went there again. This time I ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad and my partner ordered 2 starters rather than a main; a fishcake and a black pudding fritter with a poached egg on top. When the black pudding fritter was served, the egg was completely solid and overcooked , so she sent it back and asked for another egg.
Meanwhile I started to eat the Caesar salad and noticed that the lettuce was brown and clearly old and ready for the bin. When the waiter arrived back with the replacement black pudding fritter with fresh poached egg, I sent the Caesar Salad back on the basis that the lettuce was brown and clearly nowhere near fresh.
Fed up with the chef’s inability to create an acceptable salad, I watched my partner cut into the egg to find this one of the snotty , uncooked variety. So, not only does the chef not recognised lettuce when it’s off, he can’t poach an egg. I was pretty fed up at this point, so I took the meal back to the bar told them that if the chef can’t poach an egg he should be sacked ! In retrospect, that was probably a bit harsh of me, but I was somewhat vexed by this point and I told them we didn’t want anything else and that I would not be paying for the food.
A few minutes later , the waiter came out with a message from the manager (actually the owner) which was along the lines of “we’ve complained too much / too often so we should go and eat somewhere else ” !
I was pretty aghast at that; in particular , that rather than come and apologise to or placate an unhappy customer in person, he would send one of his staff as messenger to deliver his “go and eat somewhere else” message.
I felt that a conversation with the owner/manager was in order . He was sitting in the restaurant at a table with other members of his family; presumably something of greater importance that dealing personally with a dissatisfied customer. His main observation was “why did we keep coming back if we didn’t like the food.” I answered honestly ; convenience.
He mentioned that we had sent food back several times (actually, I had only sent food back once before) , that my partner had been there many times before I started going there with her and there had been no problems (not so – she had been in on Mothers Day and had complained about a number of things and our dissatisfaction on recent visits was mutual ). In essence, rather than address our dissatisfaction, he turned it round to present a premise that it was me that had a bad attitude and that I was the problem.
I asked him if he had bothered to look at what had been served to us , to which he answered that he hadn’t, so I suggested that before he jumps to the conclusion that I am the problem , he should see for himself what we had been served.
In fairness, he did that and he came out and apologised and said that what had been served shouldn’t have been sent out. So eventually, the right response was delivered. However, that doesn’t really excuse what went before.
I eat out a lot and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve sent food back over the last 5 years. I’ve had some pretty poor meals in that time but accepted it , providing the attitude of the staff was good , the service is not unduly slow and as long as the food has been edible. On this occasion the quality of the food was unnacceptable in 3 out of 4 dishes served, as were the steaks we sent back on the previous visit.
It’s an interesting way to deal with a dissatisfied customer. Not one that remotely enters my head in my own business dealings, where customer excellence is what we absolutely strive for. If and when we fall short , which we do from time to time because we are human, we put the customer first , apologise and try and put things right , so that they remain a customer.
We won’t be visiting again, but we didn't really need the owner's instruction to "go and eat somewhere else" to have decided that ! The food has been average at best and there are lots of other places around which are much better and not much different in price (Albert’s , Grenache & Blacksticks to name but 3) but above all , notwithstanding the eventual apology, the attitude of the owner is really poor in my opinion. (Just take a look at the owner's response to the person who complained on here a few months back about no breakfast service on Mother’s Day and judge for yourself. Ironically , the owner has a valid point but the way he deals with it speaks volumes. )
It’s a pity , because I do like the beer garden but c’est la vie
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