Perhaps it’s the onset of winter, perhaps I’m just a big ol’ grump, but going out in London is sometimes more annoying than it is fun!
First there’s the deciding of where to go. That in itself is no mean feat. First you have to run the gauntlet of the plethora of options, some good, some amazing and some truly diabolical. Once you’ve got past that first ‘where to go’ decision, you realise it’s only the tip of the iceberg, everything from securing that table to eating to paying is fast turning into a uniquely London nightmare.
Was it always this hard? Are we in a sellers’ market forced to play by their rules just to play the game? You decide. Here are my top five pet peeves on the restaurant scene today.
- Spontaneity is King
Sound good? Think again. The reality is you’re going to spend almost 2 hours outside a restaurant, noses pressed against the glass watching those selfish people inside who have the audacity to look like they’re enjoying themselves, whilst you unsuccessfully try to convince the staff that all your party will be there within the next 5 minutes. Tops. No really, they’re coming. Honest.
- Everyone’s going there
Everyone but you, that is. Good luck next time sucker.
- The charges on top of the charge
So there’s the food, the drink, the service charge and now the cover charge. What next? An itemised bill including wear and tear of the linen (more if you’ve spilled something) & that additional bit of electricity you used when walking in? Restaurants at the Shard levy a cover charge just so punters can’t use the lift to come in and look at the view without paying. It clearly hasn’t occurred to them to operate a more efficient system of entry if it’s such a big concern, instead of passing on an inflated charge to customers willing to eat at their establishment.
- The bewildering choices
Yes yes, #firstworldproblems and all that. Nothing strikes fear into my heart more than being asked to recommend somewhere. What, narrow it down to just one? But what do you like? What area? What price range?
I could recommend the Ritz if you wanted opulence with your tea or my local Vietnamese restaurant which has large signs telling you in no uncertain terms that they don’t serve tap water and they only take cash. Choosing where to go is fraught with similar worries, this is Fear of Missing Out raising its ugly head.
- Hello, you have 120 minutes for your meal. No wait, its 119 minutes now
No sooner has my posterior touched the chair (Although all too often while still at the front desk) I’m informed that it’s a 2 hour table only. And I get it, I do. Restaurants are a tricky business and you don’t want to be stuck with that group occupying a table for 8 and sharing one tea between them. But is there no middle ground? Unless armed with a tasting menu, I don’t often stay at a restaurant longer than 2 hours. Exceptions are made if there’s a big group but that usually entails one too many bottles of wine, contributing healthily to the profit margin. But I deeply resent being told of a time limit when I’ve not even opened my menu.
Come on London, sort it out.
What are your pet peeves when it comes to dining out?