Last night I took me in-laws and wife to The Crab. I work locally in Newbury and had frequented the restaurant from time to time for business lunches and found it to be very good. I haven't been for about a year but I was looking forward to it and so was my wife. Whilst I work locally it's an hour's drive from home so it wasn't just next door.
We had a 20:30 booking and arrived at 20:15. We sat down in the waiting area and were brought a menu (the writing is squint by the way) and a lady took an aperitif order. At 20:55 nobody had taken our order and we were still in the "cold" waiting room having long since finished our drinks. I had to ask the receptionist to ask someone to take our order. The Maitre'd then arrived and made some references to being busy. I found her attitude somewhat brash, my father in law's description was "not easy to warm to". We were advised that the whole Salcombe crab did not come with full claws but would be at a reduced £19.95 as it was just a combination of white and brown meat. My father in law and I both decided to still have the crab. My wife who wanted the halibut but was only informed when she ordered that it was "off" went for the monkfish wellington.
We weren't given the option to order wine in the waiting room, rather this had to be done at the table,
We went through to the dining room and the ambiance was initially quite nice. We sat down and had to ask to order some wine. A nice Soave which would have become two had we been looked after or had the time after such slow service.
The dining room was too cold and we never felt comfortable.
Starters came and everything was very good, pork belly v nice, smokie v nice, pig head & scotch egg v nice, I had 6 oysters, 5 v good, one I wouldn't personally have served.
Main course took what felt like forever to come, we had to ask when it was due. Wine was finished by this stage.
Crab came out with claws which was a surprise since none were expected however the content of the shell itself was 100% brown meat, not as described. Too dry to finish off I'm afraid.
Worst of all was the hair that my wife found in her wellington, she could not finish it as she was too put off. The waitress arrived and whilst polite appeared perplexed as to what to do, I asked her to tell the chef to make sure he knew. The Matire'd arrived after and correctly took the cost of the wellington off the bill, she also offered complimentary coffee. Dealt with appropriately but still too slowly and I really didn't warm to her attitude, the words were correct but they felt very empty.
Next up the bill and the Salcombe crab was incorrectly charged at full price, the Maitre'd confirmed to the waitress that it was indeed incorrect however after much bumbling we had to insist on getting the card machine so we could pay up and leave. After 23:00 at this stage.
Everyone very nice on the way out but nobody to get our coats so we had to find someone who could.
Overall I was embarrassed that I'd taken my in-laws to what was supposed to be a special night out but turned out to be quite a disaster.
I really feel that there was plenty of staff they just weren't being managed properly, the Maitre'd is responsible for the front of house and overall reputation of the establishment and she simply wasn't doing an effective or charming enough job of it.
Can't go back and I shall of course tell everyone at a very large company in Newbury how downhill things have gone.
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