We recently wanted to take friends to Dunbrody House for a meal. None of us had eaten there before, but had heard good reports and were looking forward to our visit.
Two days before our planned visit, my wife called in to the hotel and spoke to someone in reception to enquire about booking. As we were planning to use the Early Bird menu at 7pm, she was told that there was no need to book, 'just turn up'.
On the evening in question, we arrived at 6:50pm and walked into the reception area, which was deserted. After five or six minutes we decided to go looking for a someone to help us. We walked into the bar and found that this was not staffed either, so we went back to reception. After several more minutes a woman came rushing through the door, struggling to get her uniform jacket on. She apologised breathlessly for the delay and asked us to go through to the bar where she would sort us out with drinks and a menu.
We went and found a table and then sat waiting. The waitress appeared a few times; on each occasion running with drinks or menus for other guests. Each time she passed she apologised for the delay and said she would be with us shortly. After around thirty minutes, we eventually got menus, but these were for bar food. We pointed out that we had come for the Early Bird meal in the dining room and asked if we could get a bottle of wine while we waited.
The wine was a long time coming and whilst we sat waiting we watched as two or three waitresses charged around furiously between the bar and the restaurant. Every now and then, one would stop and enquire if we were being attended to and we replied that were waiting for a bottle of wine which we had ordered. This eventually turned up at 8pm, over an hour after we had arrived.
At that point we asked if we could go straight through to the restaurant, as we were getting hungry. We were shown through by a waitress who ran ahead of us and disappeared with our wine. After checking a couple of rooms, we found her looking somewhat exasperated at the fact that we hadn't kept up. We were shown to a table and told that someone would be with us shortly to take our order.
After a few minutes a woman appeared, who seemed to be in charge of the restaurant. She was initially very pleasant and asked what we would like to order. We said we had come for the Early Bird meal. At that point she told us that the Early Bird menu was finished for the evening, as it was now too late, so we would have to order from the main menu. We explained that we had been waiting for well over an hour, having arrived in plenty of time for the Early Bird. The woman then asked if we had booked, to which my wife replied that we had not, having been told that this was not necessary. To this, the woman replied that, 'no-one here would have told you that', effectively calling my wife a liar.
By now, we had just about had enough and were on the verge of leaving, but the woman sensed that trouble was coming and said that if we promised not to tell anyone, she would see if the chef still had any Early Bird meals available, implying that this was some sort of favour to us. We told her what meals we wanted and eventually got fed at around 9pm. The food was pretty average, but under the circumstances, anything would have been welcome.
All in all, this was one of the worst restaurant experiences I have ever had. It made Fawlty Towers look like a Michelin Five Star.
Fortunately, in keeping with all customers, we have the option to avoid such dismal service by eating elsewhere in future, which given the quality of other establishments in the area, we most certainly will.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Small luxury country house hotel built in 1830 and set in extensive gardens and estate. Acclaimed fine dining restaurant and very popular Seafood Bar combined with on-site cookery school make Dunbrody a favourite destination amongst foodies but also for those seeking to experience Irish heritage coupled with traditional hospitality.A small boutique spa offering a range of holistic therapies completes the offering at Dunbrody. Ideal spot for those seeking to get away from it all and chill. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Dunbrody House Hotel