Last week I was with a bunch of friends and we had a guest with us from out of town. She's a big hitter with a big global brand. Obviously we wanted to go to a good restaurant with a lively atmosphere that shows off our home city of Manchester in a good light.
Once again I found myself wincing at the toe-curling provincialism of what passes for restaurant culture in our aspirant city. There was a crooner belting out songs as we arrived - he was OK, but I'm not sure it's necessary. We then waited at the bar for ages. When we got our booked table for 8, it was a round table and a square table pushed together. The service was either in-your-face intrusive, or utterly negligent. I had a tray of drinks spilled down my back - but, hey, accidents happen. The food was of variable quality, some was excellent, while one of our gang just barely touched her salty mush. Mine was alright. Overall though, the portions were just far too big, which sort of summed the place up - flash and brash for the sake of it. The worst thing was the way the waiters brought the food to the table and just shouted the name of the dish and tried to dump it in front of whoever they managed to make eye contact with. They had no idea who ordered what. Basic waiting skills require you know this. It's just good manners. To just pile it all on the table is what I expect at the Star of India in Nelson at 11pm on a Friday, but not somewhere that purports to offer a fine dining experience. In fact, I only have good memories of that curry house, but you take my point and they didn't take a fraction of the bill here.
And the restaurant? Go on, have a guess.