The world is full of them. I’ve eaten at disappointing restaurants in Paris, Monaco, Lisbon, Prague, Toronto, New York, Boston, Mexico City, Miami and a myriad of other obscure towns and cities across the globe. I am sorry to say that London is no exception and I have experienced rather a lot of disappointing meals here in the Big Smoke. In some places, the food was mediocre; in some, the food was awful. In others yet, the food was great but the service was awful. Despite the variations, they all can be described as disappointing.
I feel an almost civic sense of duty to record these episodes, not only as a warning to my fellow gastronomes and gastronomists, but as also as a way of saying to these chefs & front of house managers: Its just not good enough.
So, on the week we say a sad farewell to my favourite chef of all time, the late, great Charlie Trotter, and on a happier note, we also see Jamie Oliver accept his Honorary Fellowship from the RCGP for his work on childhood nutrition, I turn my eyes, stomach & pen to another celebrity chef: Marco Pierre White.
So, first off, let me say, my husband loves steak. I repeat, my husband LOVES steak. So when I wanted to treat him to a special meal out, I thought “Marco Pierre White Steak & Alehouse – how could I go wrong?”
When we arrived in this basement eatery, I was a little underwhelmed by the interior. I mean, it was ok. It just looked a bit like a tired, worn out, MDF, stripmall chain version of a decent restaurant.
I can sum up the rest of the visit in a single paragraph. The food was fine. The kitchen was slow. The service was slow. The orders were wrong – twice. The front of house were obviously not happy (or they made a jolly good effort to make themselves look pretty miserable) and the restaurant was severely understaffed – at many points there was not a single waiter to be found on the dining room floor.
Now – this bit is cruel – but being so close to Liverpool Street Station, the atmosphere reeked of train station pub – a bit Wetherspoons-esque. Also, the clientele were, well, mostly a bit of an odd mix. There were a lot of Essex couples (and by that I don’t mean people from Essex, I mean TOWIE wannabees), a few City secretaries on a night out, some oddly mismatched Internet first dates and a couple of wierd American tourists.
Three hours after entering the restaurant, we emerged, feeling both slightly poorer and in a vague state of shock.
So, I was thinking that Marco Pierre White might find my branding experience helpful and I offer him – free of charge – a new strapline which he is welcome to use on any promotional print or web-based material:
MPW Steak & Alehouse
“Come for the adequate steak. Stay because we’ll take an hour to get it to your table.”