The Turnpike is an exceptional venue but the standard of service and quality of the meals of late is just not consistently good enough. The newish system of waiting to be seated is certainly better tham the old rugger scrum of ordering at the bar, providing that you are not ingnored. I have been lucky and never have been ignored under the current system but I have seen couples just walk out after not receiving any attention after a reasonable amount of time. Front of house is very important, customers need to be valued.
On my last visit, a Wednesday in early January 2013, the manager and one waitress were trying to work the whole restaurant with a chap doing his best with drinks Etc. Despite their hard work, they could not cope adequately with trying to take orders, clear tables, bring out food and taking further orders for desserts. I know that on some occasions food was waiting at the kitchen for want of someone to collect it ! Other diners on at least two tables near to us were getting a bit agitated with non taking of orders and food service delays.
My wife and I elected to try the Wednesday Pie Specials. We had the pudding style pie but found that they had been hard baked rather than steamed so had an almost inedible crust. They were to be served with a "medley of vegetables" that turned out to be a couple of brussel sprouts and a few green beans, not quite what we had hoped for. The side order of cauliflower cheese was also a big disapointment being very undercooked with a watery cheese sauce. On paying, I did advise on the shortcomings of the cauliflower cheese but did not have the heart to express my overall concerns re the whole dining experience to the very likeable waitress who I could see was working really hard. I suspect that being part of a chain, there will be pressure from head office, to keep staff costs to a minimum and maybe this policy is also affecting the quality of food. There have been a number of previous visits, over the recent years, where I have said to myself "lets give them another try" but based on my last vist, I will not risk it again. Such a shame.
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