My experience echoes that of 'Never again'. I booked for my birthday about six months early and when one of the chefs wrote in the diary mine was the first booking. As it was a special birthday, they were really good at agreeing a menu that I was happy with. Closer to the time, I asked if they wanted us to pre-order and they did, so my husband did a really helpful spreadsheet detailing which of the starters and mains each of the 33 guests wanted. We handed this in a week before the event.We agreed that my party would have the bar to the right all to ourselves and the S&D said they would put on a bar person just for us.
Fast forward to the event itself and we went earlier in the day to drop the cake off, put balloons up and put the place cards out. The tables were set for 29. I explained that the preorder list was for 33 so they then tried to find another table for us. The initial reaction was to put a table for 4 away from the other guests who were all on one table which I said I was not happy with so they squashed it with the other table. There were not enough chairs but said that another party would be finished by the time mine was started so these would be available.
7pm we arrrived. The welcome drinks were not there to welcome us, there was no bar person just for us and the bar people there were so busy I couldn't get their attention to ask about the drinks so I went upstairs to the kitchen. The sparkling wine did then appear with one person to help just with that. As all my guests had arrived by then, one of my guests ending up helping open the bottles, pour the drinks and hand them out. There was no note on the bar door to say it was a private party so a gatecrasher tried coming in and had to be turned around by one of my friends.
I waited for the staff to tell us when the starters would be ready because I didn't want everyone to be sat down for ages. We did get the nod about 1/2 hour later than planned but first had to find the missing chairs which had not materialised in fact we had less. Some people had to sit on bar stools. Both the starter and main took on the same theme, some people had theirs far earlier than others and had finished by the time others were starting. For the mains, the last beef dishes had no potatoes and despite holding off as long as possible, everyone took the decision to eat their meat before it got cold rather than wait for the potatoes. The separate veg arrived after some had finished eating.
There was no one on the bar just for us and the bar staff ended up directing people to our bar as it would be easier for them to get served so once again the exclusivity was gone.
We understood that there were at least 2 other parties in that night which must have been taken after my booking. I really feel that these additional bookings put my special night in jeopardy. The food when it did arrive was lovely but was far outshadowed by the exceptionally poor service. I've fed this back verbally to one of the chefs and owners. There were a lot of local people in my party and they really missed a trick that night in failing to impress. It is a very high risk business strategy thinking they can rely on the standard of their food alone.
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