They looked puzzled and began to whisper amongst themselves. My little brow furrowed. I guessed what was coming. No…they did not have a table booked for us this evening. They were apologetic and began to frantically check their schedule. I could hear …”if we…” and “we could move…” but I guessed they were struggling.
I said, “Don’t worry we can sit at the bar and eat”…the default position at Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant for those without a booking. We had done it last year so we weren’t too bothered…for the minute.
Gratitude oozed from the front of house staff. Sadly this was all that oozed.
Having helped them out of a sticky jam it did cross my mind that we might be offered the odd complimentary drink, maybe even a free puddy or the odd lobster in a doggy bag to nibble on the way home. Maybe that was being a bit optimistic…and mercenary. OK, at minimum they would no doubt take special care to look after such obliging customers.
I thought this as I stared at the whale like bones which were the remains of my turbot. They had been there for some time now and I was beginning to wonder how long they would remain festering 6” from my eyeballs. You must remember J and I were sitting at the bar which has the effect of – food higher – bum lower. Here you are face to face with your food.
I disappeared off to the Gents in the hope that it would have been fed to the harbour’s numerous herring gulls by the time I returned. The skeletal turbot grinned happily on my return…it had obviously missed me. I was touched.
Hmmm, I looked around. Rose tinted glasses off…critical eye now appraising Mr Stein’s flagship restaurant.
Tables too close together given prices charged.
£65 tasting menu looked very similar (if not identical) to last years – smacks of laziness.
Staff more concerned about their own issues (re our “non” booking) than their customers and there is no doubt that you become less of a priority when sitting at the bar. Particularly galling in our case…as we had made a booking.
A number of fish dishes (ours included) came with a couple of boiled potatoes and a “melange” of vegetables. The pretentious “melange” comprised a small bowl with a couple of tiny boiled carrots, broad beans, runner beans and peas. Minimum effort…and sadly minimum taste.
On the plus side the starters of crab, samphire and asparagus salad and deep fried prawn stuffed courgette flowers with chilli dip…were excellent. We both had the turbot with hollandaise sauce which again was beautifully cooked though I felt the rich hollandaise was congealing a bit and close to overpowering the turbot. Least said about the vegetables the better.
So, summing up…I don’t think we shall return. Cooking can be excellent but I was most disappointed by the lack of change to the tasting menu. This smacks of stagnation…and raking it in. This is a real money-spinner of a restaurant but its customer focus is not what it should be.
Go to Sam’s on the Beach at Polkerris. Maybe the cooking isn’t quite as sophisticated, but it is very good and it’s a lot cheaper. Most of all they value your custom with a team of excellent young staff. After our second visit the woman who was front of house apologised to us as we left for not having time to pop over and see us. She thanked us for coming again. That’s how you do it!
I must check to see if A.A. Gill has reviewed Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant. Hopefully that last line should pull in a few extra bodies from Google!