My two girlfriends and I thought it would be a lovely idea to go and get a Sunday brunch to catch up! My friend suggested this place as she had been there the week before and had a nice time.
We arrived at the restaurant (with a table booked) and had a warm reception by who I believe was once of the hosts. The temperature was lovely, the music good (perhaps a tiny bit too loud). Overall the general ambience was sophisticated and welcoming. Tables were set nicely.
Taken to our table we were seated and given menus (brunch, lunch, wine and cocktail). The first small thing we were confused about was that there was no soft drink menu, which is I'm sure a preference for the restaurant, but it would be nice to know that it was 3.25 for a small latte and to also know the options without having to make a snap judgment. Our first waitress with brown hair, was very professional and listed all the drinks that they had. However I asked for skim milk and received a full cream coffee, when I enquired about this the next waiter when he announced "latte", he said, "um sure".
We then ordered two English Breakfasts and one of the Buttermilk Pancakes. While we were waiting I had to ask for table water, from our blonde waitress (who thought this was a weird question) when other tables got it automatically, my glass had something floating in it. The brunette quickly resolved this, and was good at quickly helping me with a nice professional smile.
I then asked the blonde waitress to please remove the lunch bread rolls from our table because we had ordered breakfast and we didn't want the spare bread (my friends had been charged last time for it, and we didn't want the bread). The blonde lady said, are you sure? A little rudely, might I add. Then removed the bread (but not our bread plates).
At this stage we were starting to feel a little weird, our drinks came quickly, but by this stage we had been seated by one person, and now served by three. One positive thing to note however was that they didn't seat anyone directly next to us (good spacing).
Then our food arrived. The waitress put the three plates down ledge behind us, I thought this was a little unprofessional, you should be able to carry three plates to a table, but she did know who was having what without needing to ask (thumbs up!). It was quick, even a little rushed, making us already feel like we were another "process" (which had come from the now four different wait staff, no enquiring questions about whether we were here for brunch or lunch, no real rapport as such, no asking how we were going).
The pancakes looked lovely, they were fluffy and nicely presented (we all tried them and agreed thumbs up for the pancakes!). However the English Breakfasts we were surprised to see that there was no toast included or any garnish or notion of presentation. It basically looked like something I could have made myself at home (perhaps that was the idea). The tomatoes were not very nice, mushrooms were okay, ham was tasty (bit too salty for me but that is my preference I believe), eggs with soft poached (perfect, as I asked). But we were confused about the lack of toast.
We ate our meal, and then as we were finishing we noticed that the tables around us were getting these cute little metal racks of toast, I asked my friend, when she came last week if she got toast with her English Breakfast, she replied yes she did.
I asked a fifth waitress, who had a brown blazer on (so many in one section!), "Just a quick question, were we supposed to get toast with our breakfast?" A little mini flash of panic went across her face, she asked you didn't get any toast? And I said no, neither of us had.
She went to go and ask at the kitchen, our other blonde waitress returned and told us that we needed to ASK for toast when ordering. THIS was the biggest thing that ruined the whole already tense experience. I said to her, there was nothing on the menu that suggested that we could order toast (like "Extras: toast - 2 pounds or something" which I double checked as I was leaving), also, most people could safely assume that an English Breakfast includes toast. She replied with, did the menu specify toast? To which I replied no, but we felt that was a poor excuse. When we said that my friend was here last Sunday and she just received toast automatically, the waitress replied with we just changed the menu (this week??), which I have a feeling she was lying due to the fact that the first lady I asked looked stressed and others were receiving toast. We weren't even asked if we wanted toast, which I think we definitely should have been asked, if that was ACTUALLY the case.
I wouldn't have asked them to remove the bread... Our poor perfect eggs had no toast to do them justice!
Overall, this was immensely confusing. We just wanted to get out of there. She left (obviously feeling she had closed the discussion), returned shortly after asking if we wanted anything else (not bothering to give us more water when our glasses were empty during the meal), we replied no (wanting to leave).
Then came the bill. It was a bit of a slap in the face, besides the slightly expensive drinks and the 12.5% automatic service charge, there were also a one pound charge to the GR something and 2 cover charges at 2 pounds each. I asked the waitress over again to explain what these were, the one pound was a contribution to the Gordon Ramsey donation, the 2 cover charges were for eating in the main restaurant rather than the bar (which I feel is absolutely ridiculous that we were being charged per seat when there was already a service charge, there was also nothing on the menu to suggest this, nor were we given the option). As I enquired, she said, I can remove them if you want, in a way that was really quite rude, being fed up with this treatment, I said yes remove those off the menu and the service charge please. Honestly, if we had a great time we would have paid all of this (even if it was a little cheeky) straight away.
This was the stage where a think a sixth person (I believe the manager) stepped in. We were offered orange juice and champagne to apologise about the toast (which gives me a feeling our blonde waitress was lying about it) and honestly a huge fuss was made out of this. I agreed to it, embarrassed that I had already needed to ask so many questions, but then when paying the amended bill (which did not subtract anything for lack of toast), I said, I think we will just go without the champagne please, the message was obviously not relayed as we were then presented by the (what I believe is the manager) and our other male waiter with three glasses of orange juice and champagne (which had bits of fluff on the rim from the polishing cloths I assume).
It was a nice gesture, although I feel like this should have been the first solution. I think when our waitress went to ask permission for the cover charges to be removed then the Manager actually heard of the situation and then we got some kind of response, but it was a bit too late and it was just mostly embarrassing.
Overall from my experience I wouldn't go back, for the price and the ambience I would have expected more. I know this review has been highly detailed but I've worked in quite a few expensive restaurants myself and know that attention to detail is important. There were so many little things that could have been better, and please, sort out your sections wait staff-wise it would make things run a lot smoother (it was certainly not packed with people).