We went with friends last week to visit the Marco Pierre White restaurant at the Cadbury House hotel. Having perused the menu ahead of our visit everything looked promising despite the lack of vegetarian options for two of our party.
We had booked in for the evening and had spent the day at the spa, which was great. The lunch that we had after our treatments in the spa restaurant was faultless. The service was good and my Thai fishcake salad with sweet chilli sauce was very nice indeed. On checking in to the hotel we were all given complimentary chocolate cookies which were freshly baked and still warm, I could easily have eaten ten of these. Had I know that the food that evening would be so terrible I probably would have just ordered these.
As we embarked on dinner our evening started to go downhill rapidly. We gave our names to the maitre d’ and took a seat in the bar area. We were told that a waiter would be over to take our drinks orders shortly, this took at least ten minutes. By this time we were starting to get hungry so asked to be shown to our table.
Having studied the menus and finishing our drinks we were kept waiting for a second time with empty glasses. We ordered some olives which unfortunately never materialised. No amount of eye contact was able to get the attention of the passing wait staff. Eventually we managed to grab the attention of our waiter and placed our order.
We didn’t have to wait long until the starters arrived. The beetroot and goat’s cheese salad with walnut dressing was refreshing and well balanced. The vegetable tart was also very nice and the flavours were well balanced.
I had ordered the spatchcock chicken, chipolatas, roasting juices and bread sauce and the others at the table ordered the beetroot and goats cheese risotto, fried haddock, chips and mushy peas and whole grilled plaice with a lemon & caper butter.
Initially the spatchcock chicken looked very well cooked and the skin was beautifully crispy. Nearer the bone though it was completely raw. The apparent ‘roasting juices’ came in a small gravy boat covered in a thick skin. It was massively over-reduced and incredibly salty. Maybe they had a job lot of Knorr stock pots that needed using up. In stark contrast to the massively salty gravy was the bread sauce. This had absolutely no taste whatsoever and had the texture of lumpy wallpaper paste.
I sent back the chicken because it was undercooked. The manager came to the table and apologised but explained that ‘it’s only undercooked near the bone’. I am not sure if he just expected me to eat the cooked bits? This was the last chicken so I just asked for my sausage to be returned. What came back was literally just the sausage, see left. This was so dry and bland that I even asked for the bread sauce back (at least this was wet and bland).
The risotto wasn’t much better at all. It had the same consistency and lack of flavour as the bread sauce. In fact I can’t be sure they weren’t the same thing. In a blind taste test you would struggle to tell them apart. After a few mouthfuls this was also sent back to the kitchen.
On a lighter note, the dish dishes were well executed. Both the haddock and plaice were moist and full of flavour. The batter on the haddock could have been an bit crisper but judging by the other dishes this was only a small issue. The chips that accompanied the haddock were fantastic.
By way of an apology for our mains we were brought a bottle of prosecco by the restaurant manager and told that we could have desserts at no cost. Two of our party ordered desserts, the chocolate fondant with pistachios and eton mess. The eton mess was not the best we have ever tasted but it was quite enjoyable. As for the chocolate fondant, this was burnt on the bottom and had a bitter taste.
When the bill arrived it had all of the food including the olives which had never arrived. We had to ask for the items that had been sent back to be removed from the menu along with the olives. The manager looked confused and said that they had been generous by giving us a bottle of prosecco. Having to explain again what had gone wrong with our meal was awkward and unnecessary.
We emailed our complaint to the hotel and revealed that we had been there to review the food as we wanted to give them a chance to respond. We still haven’t had any response four days later. With the number of quality restaurants in the area, at a far more reasonable price they are going to have to up their game in terms of the quality of the food and the way that they deal with customer complaints.