Shame on you restaurants

Posted: 21/11/2011 in Uncategorized
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I know that a couple of years ago I’d have given no thought to todays topic, yet here I am now expounding on how much it irks me.

On Saturday we were meeting with some friends (Mr and Mrs Duglost) who are leaving the country for warmer climes at the end of the month. They chose the restaurant and with them not having kids I can understand why. It certainly sounded good The Gourmet Pizza Company (they don’t appear to have their own website so the link’s to toptable) but very quickly things began to go wrong.

If you need to get in with a pram or wheelchair then they need to dismantle their outside fence to let you in as the front entrance is stairs only. Although this is not the end of the world it’s not ideal and does cause some inconvenience to those people already dining in that area. I would ask why they don’t just move their front entrance to this side as it wouldn’t cost them anything to do so.

The restaurant itself was fine – the pizzas were not particularly memorable but certainly not bad either and the pricing was reasonable. If forced to make a comparison I’d describe them as Pizza Express with a bit of character. I’d even go back to them if it wasn’t for one major failing! Come nappy change time,the long-suffering Mrs Bunny Chow was forced to endure kneeling on the floor of a cubicle in the lady’s toilet using a blow up change mat. Not only does this place not think that people might bring their children and invest in the facilities to make their visit a more pleasant one, it also does not appear to have a toilet with disabled access. Seconds worth of online research showed me that wall mounted fold up changing tables are available for under £50 yet someone has taken the decision to alienate this proportion of their clientele.

I guess they figure they are on the South Bank and the majority of their business is going to be passing trade so who cares if people with small kids don’t come back.

Then to add insult to injury yesterday we had arranged to meet up with our friends the Islanders for lunch. The agreed venue was a country pub not that far from where we live called The White Bear. We’d not been before but the Islanders had and we’d heard other good things about the place (especially if you want somewhere to take the dog).

We were early as they don’t open the doors until 12pm on Sundays but it was nice to be out in the countryside and The Monkey Boy and The Islanders young lad were able to look at some horses in an adjoining field as well as point at numerous small planes which I presume were flying out of nearby Biggin Hill and shout useful things like “airpane ky” and “airpane ky orgone” when there were no planes in the sky. We’ve gotten pretty good at translation and it’s pretty cute so it was smiles all round when the pub doors opened.

Inside the pub is stunning – it’s been there for hundreds of years and retains plenty of original features which is where the problem comes in. They have retained the beautiful open fireplaces but chosen not to provide children’s high chairs or a safe area away from the fires. The lady who showed us in specifically said that they do not cater for children as they “have open fires”. There was therefore (in their minds) no way that The Bunny Chows or The Islanders would have been able to protect our toddlers from leaping into the inferno.

This pub has less of an excuse as less of their trade is going to just be wandering past looking for somewhere to meet so I must ask how much of an investment would half a dozen high chairs with straps and a couple of fire screens come to when considering the continued trade that a family like ours could bring in down the years? Now they’ve lost us and anyone I can persuade to follow. Shame, poor them.

The main result of yesterday’s problem meant that we ended up in the local Harvester who offer inoffensive pub food and drink to the mass market at very reasonable prices (£50 for four adults two toddlers and a baby) and actively encourage you to bring along the whole family. Good for them! It’s a pity they lack character but until our kids grow up a bit I know that their style of restaurant will be getting our trade.

Anyway I’ve had my say.



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