Archive for the ‘When caffs go bad’ Category

Bad Cafe: Eco Cafe, Camden High Street

October 18, 2008

Last (ever) visited: Wednesday 15th October 2008

I really wanted to like this place hence my returning after this not very impressive experience, but there’s so much wrong with it, that my anticipatory goodwill was soon vanquished.

Let me begin:

 – You order at the counter, but pay when you collect your food, even if you’re sitting in, and even if it’s a hot plate of full english, a basket of toast and a mug of tea and you have to collect it and pay from the same service point that the queue of take-away customers is ordering and paying for their coffees and croissants

 – The plate was a small oblong item, far too small to hold both breakfast and toast, despite the fact that…

 – the breakfast was tiny: 1 veg sausage, 1 slice of bacon, a ramekin of microwaved baked beans, and 2 eggs, although..

 – the bacon was easily discarded as it was a totally inedible piece of charred shoe leather, and..

 – the toast was really horrible, cold, bog standard supermarket bread (not what I expected in an organic caff)

 – I had to ask (at the same time as paying for and collecting my breakfast, and carrying the plate, mug and basket back to my table) milk with my English breakfast tea (which was not included in the price) and…

 – the tea was a pot of warm water and a teabag on a plate! not what you expect to come when you order tea with an ‘organic English brekkie’

 – they played really horrible, really loud techno-muzak

If this place isn’t prepared to hire enough staff to make and serve hot food as well as coffee, then they should stop serving it. Frankly I think they should concentrate on takeaway and abandon the whole idea of sitting in.

PS My coming here for breakfast was supposed to be a special treat…

Bad Cafe: Pompidou Coffee Shop, Dean Street

July 15, 2008

Truly appalling food and service in otherwise attractive surroundings

Visited Tuesday 15th July 2008

Interior: A very nice, unpretentious, traditional feel to this place, wooden tables and chairs, pictures and plants made it a really genuinely enticing prospect.

Food: Horrendous. After a somewhat taxing conversation with the waitress, who really didn’t speak English (I have many synonyms, but it was hard to find one she understood), I was under the impression I’d ordered a panino on toasted brown bread with mozzarella and peppers but instead I was served stale (and possibly mouldy) toast, which I had to spit out, containing an unmelted fragment (pre-sliced) of unidentifiable and tasteless cheese and a tiny sprinkling of raw chopped green pepper. Even the tea had that metallic taste that sometimes occurs when the water is obtained from coffee machines which need a clean. I was charged 4.65 for this, of which I paid 3 pounds.

I did feel sorry for the waitress as she was clearly too intimidated to call someone with better English or let me speak to the kitchen myself, which in itself speaks of bad management, and it didn’t help that I was ordering off menu. But really, it takes a lot for me not to be able to finish something when I have the munchies, never mind actually spit it out into my napkin.

Bad Cafe: Churchills, Whitehall

January 7, 2008

Visited: Thursday 3rd January 2007

Poor quality tourist rip-off in Westminster

Interior:  Jolly and traditional upstairs, I was shown to a depressing downstairs area which felt like a toilet corridor even though this was in fact separate.

Food: Very basic poor-quality white so-called ciabatta roll, barely toasted with tasteless mozzarella and cold tomato. A ‘large’ tea was a slightly bigger than normal cup.

The special condemnation I hold for this establishment is its terrible value for money and dreadful service.

My undistinguished sandwich and tea came to 7 pounds twenty – 2.10 of which was for the tea – the same money would buy a large one in an upmarket coffee chain, never mind another caff paying similar rents and business rates in Westminster. To add to the insult, the bill included an additional 75p for service.

This I asked them to take off, as the service was very disappointing. When I arrived, the male staff behind the counter were very friendly and told me that, as there was only one large table left upstairs, I would be looked after downstairs. There the female staff were brusque, unfriendly, showed me to a table in front of the staff room door (although there were many tables when I arrived) and could not wait for me to finish, first asking me if I wanted an espresso, then bringing the bill, then simply standing there as I put my coat on (the table had been cleared as soon as I put my empty cup down), although there were free tables left. When I explained at the till why I wanted the service removed, the (male) staff member muttered something about a ‘large party’ as if large parties of tourists were something to which this particular cafe was not accustomed.

Bad Cafe: Antonio’s Cafe, Piccadilly, Manchester

April 29, 2007

Visited: Monday 23rd April 2007

Handy for the station, but that’s about it. Welcome was far from friendly and my pampered southern-ness couldn’t quite cope with the smoke. And the loo was out of order (and looked like it had been for years – or rather that the sign was a permanent fixture to prevent people abusing the facilities, which obviously includes those who’ve just filled themselves with the caff’s tea.)

Interior: Nothing special – some nice mirroring, and padded seats, but standard plastic tables. Greenery was a good touch

Food: A big disappointment. I had tea, a fried egg, toast (white only), tomatoes and mushrooms and only the toast was made fresh. The tomatoes were actually okay – a whole tomato quartered and while it had been sitting around a while, it was nice and juicy.