Yesterday my friend and I took 2 guests with us to Curiously Wicked for afternoon tea as a treat for their 70th birthdays using a Groupon offer.
Our expectations from the Groupon offer and from the restaurant's website were that we would be whisked back to 1912 with an interactive experience and banter with the staff. This was not the case for us. We were simply guided to our table and told that the food would be delayed and were offered tea and coffee while we waited. We were not addressed as "madam", there was no Edwardian banter, the staff were not at all in role and simply performed their function as waitresses rather than providing the in-period conversation that we were led to expect from the website. I found this very disappointing as this was the whole reason that we had chosen this venue for our friends' birthday treat as we knew this would be the kind of experience that they would enjoy. Alas, there was no experience to enjoy. I note with interest that the same complaint was made on Tripadvisor by a reviewer a month ago, in February, and the owner stated that this would be recitified immediately. I can now inform her that it has NOT been rectified and she needs to go and review this issue again.
As for the food and drink: The food was adequate, the type and size of portions were what I would have expected for the price we paid, although I was glad we got it at the Groupon rate. The coffee was lukewarm as another reviewer stated earlier.
Unfortunately a major issue with this experience and which, quite frankly, left a bad taste in our mouths was the way an issue surrounding the payment of the bill was handled by the staff:
As stated earlier, we used the Groupon offer, which did state that 1 pot of tea between two customers was included. However, on our arrival, we were told that food would be delayed (as previously stated above) and therefore we were offered a tea or coffee while we waited. We assumed therefore that this would be complimentary as it was not our fault that the food would be late. By the time the food arrived, our tea was almost finished and we asked for a further pot each as we would have had no drink with our food. At no time were we informed that this second pot of tea would be at an extra charge. After finishing our food, my friend asked where the toilets were and was told their whereabouts by a member of staff (i.e. that it was through the door at the other side of the room.) We assumed that the toilet would still be on the cafe premises but when we went through the door, it turned out that the toilets were the facilities belonging to the Sanderson Arcade, rather than privately owned by the cafe. This was not the problem. The problem was that our guests (whose birthdays we were celebrating) were stopped on their way to the toilets by a member of staff who accused them of leaving without paying. Bearing in mind that the staff had already been offered the Groupon voucher and still had not informed us that there was any bill at all to pay and that they had had plenty of opportunity to present us with a bill while they were clearing the cake stands from our table (as they said that they were short of cake stands) I find it totally unacceptable that the staff should have caused this embarassment and humiliation in front of other customers and especially so that it should have been my invited guests and not myself (as it was obvious that I was the organizer of the event) that was confronted in this manner. My guests therefore had to pay the bill themselves, as my friend and I had already gone to use the facilities. What a lovely birthday treat for them.
Prior to leaving, after my friends had informed me of what had happened, we returned to the cafe and raised our concerns with the "butler" and while he apologised, the damage had already been done and the celebration event spoilt. This could have been easily avoided if it had been made clear that there would have been a charge for an extra pot of tea, or indeed if a bill had been produced prior to us making it clear that we were intending to leave the table (we had already put our coats on and prepared to leave - even leaving a tip on the table, which we now regret).
As other reviewers have stated, I would like to make it clear that I am in no way affiliated with any rival premises and that the views I have expressed here are entirely our own as a result of our own experiences and are therefore not intended to portray Curiously Wicked in a negative light, it is merely an account of the service we experienced.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
March 20, 2013
This reviewer was outside the premises, trying to leave without paying their bill. One of the remaining party who was also on their way out, was then asked about the outstanding amount, at which point the reviewer returned and launched a barrage of abuse at one of my most valued members of staff. Out of approx 1000 Groupon customers so far, she was the first person to question the small added costs for any extra drinks she ordered – all this clearly marked and shown on her voucher. The consequence is that to get back at us, she has opened a Trip Advisor account, gone through every negative comment we have had (even down to dates) and agreed with them; a totally irrelevant exercise to the actual issue of us discovering that she was trying to leave without settling her account. We could not have done any more for her - the party arrived 25 minutes early and we accommodated them without fuss and they outstayed their allocated time by one and a half hours, which we did not question other than to ask for their empty cake stand which was required for the next sitting. The party was checked upon constantly and, according to their replies, were happy with the whole experience. However, one must ask what type of character books a specific time to then disregard it, orders drinks and expects that they are complimentary and then creates a complete fuss when they don't get their own way in one area..?
Report response as inappropriate
Thankfully, amongst the hundreds of wonderful, honest and happy customers we have through our doors each week this is a one off. In this case, my staff acted impeccably and none of them are accountable in any of this. As the owner, I am and any issues need to be taken up with me direct instead of launching a bitter cyber attack such as this. I personally directed them to stop you and would do so a million times over rather than allow you to take advantage of them and our good nature again.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.