The English pub meal experience
Last night we went for a pub meal in a village. We were meeting up with some of my husband’s family who live in the Midlands but were here for Goodwood. And also my sister in law’s husband and one of their sons who live in Lewes came too. My sister in law was away so wasn’t able to come. Anyway, I had researched a place where we could all have dinner together – someplace reasonably priced and OK for young children. A pub restaurant seemed perfect (i love pub meals – this is something that doesn’t exist in America) and after finally finding a place where the entrees were around £12 to £15 (as opposed to £15 to £30!) I had booked it originally for 4 adults and 2 children (my oldest was going on a sleepover so wouldn’t be there). Then when my sister in law said her husband and one son could come, I emailed them asking for our reservation to be changed to include 2 more people. They emailed me back saying that was fine. Job done.
Well we turned up at the place, lovely atmosphere (very English pub style – dark, cosy and eccentric music) and seemed like a good choice. After a drink in the pub bar area (not sure what that’s called?? In an American restaurant it would be called the bar, but in pubs it’s all just the pub??) Ok so we sat down and I noticed there were only place settings for us (sister in law’s husband had not arrived yet) so I asked the hostess (again, she’s not called a hostess here and she also serves food and clears away etc so not sure what they are called here) – really I should know these things but when I acutally sit down to write about this, it turns out there are still so many things I don’t know! To continue on… I asked the hostess if we could have two more place settings because I had booked for 6 adults and 2 children. She said OK. Then the chef/owner came out all in a huff and said that the booking was only for 4 adults and 2 children. So i explained that yes I had originally booked for that but then I changed the booking to 2 more adults and they got back to me and confirmed this and that the amended booking was all was OK.
Then he continued to huff and puff and informed us that he’s never told anything by his staff and the front of house don’t communitcate with him and what does he know – he’s only the chef and owner of the establishment. He was clearly stressed about this and seemed to be mad at us for requiring 2 ‘extra’ people at our table. Well,
A.) I had been told by his pub that adding two more people to our reservation was totally fine and that all was OK.
B.) He really should have kept the part about not being told anything by his staff to himself.
C.) He should have graciously supplied our table with two more place settings and apologised for not getting it right in the first place.
Everyone at our table looked apologetic and slightly embarrased. I, on the other hand couldn’t contain my giggles. I just thought the chef/owner’s reaction was hilarious. I mean, goodness, wouldn’t he welcome two more paying customers regardless of the booking? There was ample room at our table and the 2 ‘extra’ people were seated comfortably. In addition, the pub was hardly bursting with expectant customers – perhaps it’s because the chef/owner gets mad at his customers AND his front of house staff??
In the end, it was a lovely evening with family and good food. But slightly odd and a reminder that customer service in England is inconsistent and very unpredictable!