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Should I complain to this restaurant? (apologies for length)

(7 Posts)
MissM Mon 05-Oct-09 13:16:00

Went for lunch on Saturday for my 40th birthday with my family (mum, dad, DH, SIL, brother, step-mum, four kids between 2 and 5). When I booked a couple of months ago they told me there would be a ruby wedding party of 80 there on the same day. I asked 'what does that mean then?' and the bloke said, 'nothing really, we just like to make our customers aware if we have a large booking'. Didn't bother me so I made the booking.

Anyway, DD's ballet class started late on Saturday morning which meant we were going to be late to the restaurant. I rang to say we'd be about half an hour late (which we were, on the dot). The rest of my family were all there when we arrived (and I'd rung them to warn them too). When we got there the waiter literally threw the menus at us and said 'You've got two minutes to order'. So we did as we were told (I'd not even had a chance to kiss everyone hello or have them wish me a happy birthday), and ordered the children sausages and chips from the children's menu. I said to the waiter 'I'm sorry we were so late' and he turned away and completely ignored me. DH started to order and the waiter barked at him 'No, I'm starting on this side of the table and working round'.

Twenty minutes later our starter arrives, nothing for the kids. Waiter says 'It'll be five minutes'. Twenty minutes later the kids are still waiting (and, I have to say, being absolute angels). We ask when it's coming, ten minutes later it arrives, with mash and no chips (doesn't bother me but of course the kids want chips). We point this out. They bring chips after a while but they were obviously cooked in a hurry and are horrible and greasy. Even DD doesn't eat them and she loves chips.

In the meantime the large party arrives and gets settled. They have obviously ordered already as their food starts coming out immediately. Things settle down a bit and the waiter suddenly becomes a lot more pleasant and less stressed, but we still have to wait a long time to order our puddings and for them to arrive and a couple of our meals are missing things that were listed on the menu.

So, my question is, do I email/ring and complain about the way we were treated? This is quite a posh, well-regarded place and surely they should be able to cope with large parties if they agree to cater for them? I have to say it really spoiled the vibe on arrival and I feel really miffed that such a place feels it can be so rude to its customers.

theyoungvisiter Mon 05-Oct-09 13:24:07

The waiter should have handled it more gracefully, but the problems with food, quick ordering etc are unfortunately par for the course if you turn up at the same time as such an enormous party.

They probably would not have accepted your booking if you'd told them that you would be arriving half an hour late (I know that you couldn't tell them, because you didn't know, but you know what I mean - if you'd always intended to arrive at that time they would have probably told you it was not possible).

Yes, they can cope with large parties, but the large party will have pre-ordered, and you turned up late and ordered off the regular menu, so they had no way of pre-preparing your food. It's not surprising they had problems - a restaurant will never normally accept a booking which arrives at the same time as such large party.

So you could complain about the waiter's rudeness, but I don't think you can complain that the kitchen was incredibly stretched, because that was down to the fact that you didn't arrive on time.

MissM Mon 05-Oct-09 13:48:57

The thing is, the large party didn't actually sit down until a good half hour after we'd arrived. Completely appreciate that the kitchen would have been stretched, but the regular menu was very limited (only three choices per course), and there were other tables that arrived at a similar time and after we did.

It's the rudeness that's the issue for me. Things happen, people are late. They didn't tell me when I made the booking that it was imperative that I arrived at 12.00, so I do think as you say he could have handled it more gracefully.

Totally take your point about the difficulty associated with the large booking, but when I booked the guy I spoke to specifically said it wouldn't be a problem.

Tee2072 Mon 05-Oct-09 13:52:53

Yes, I would complain. You made the booking, you were told that the large party wouldn't be a problem for them. Granted, you were late, but you graciously let them know you would be late.

If they can't handle a large booking and other parties, then they shouldn't have taken your booking.

The problems in the kitchen are not your fault. It sounds like their kitchen was really mismanaged that day.

theyoungvisiter Mon 05-Oct-09 13:58:00

well they probably said it wouldn't be a problem because at the time you booked, you were arriving an hour before the big party - so there wouldn't have been a clash. By the time you turned up (half an hour before the big party) the kitchen would have been well into preparing the big party's food and completely at full stretch.

As for other tables - well you don't know what was going on there. They may not have booked, or they may have been told they could turn up at x o'clock but that they couldn't order straight away. Also you were a party of 11 which is a biggish lot of meals to prepare anyway. A table of two or something is easier to slot in, and it's easier to co-ordinate two dishes than 11.

But yes, the rudeness was completely unacceptable. There's no excuse for not communicating in a pleasant way, even if there are problems behind the scenes.

theyoungvisiter Mon 05-Oct-09 14:00:52

"If they can't handle a large booking and other parties, then they shouldn't have taken your booking."

Tee, I don't think that's really fair. They accepted the booking because it was at a different time to the large party and therefore not a problem. How was the restaurant supposed to know that the OP would be late?

IMO the problems with the orders etc are an unfortunate consequence of the OP being late - not her fault, but not something the restaurant could have foreseen or helped.

But as I said before, the rudeness is a different matter. Whatever the situation, there's no need to be rude.

MissM Mon 05-Oct-09 15:42:46

To be honest I'm not that fussed about the messing up of orders (although the slowness of service wasn't great, and wasn't entirely down to our lateness either). I entirely accept that I was at fault for being late, but I did try to mitigate this as much as was humanly possible and don't think the restaurant were justifed in their rudeness.

The other tables were definitely more than two people - I counted six at one for example. I don't know, I just feel that if the person I spoke to when I first made the booking had said something like, just be aware that the service might be slower, or please make sure you arrive on time because of our large party I'd have felt a bit better. The thing is that he didn't, so I did feel a bit put out that our lateness did become such an issue, despite me having rung to let them know. (Not trying to excuse us being late, and I'm usually bang on time for everything!)

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