Visited with a large party to celebrate a friend's birthday at a "dinner theatre" evening. A group of actors recreated famous movie scenes set in restaurants over the course of the evening. It would be unfair to review their performance, but it got off to a bad start with a pre-performance speech from an old man who seemed very pleased with himself (not sure if he was part of the troupe or from the restaurant) announcing that there were likely to be various technical hitches and the audience should therefore please bear with them if the performance wasn't very good. He also then made a joke about refunding the ticket price if we weren't satisfied, his punchline being that as we were paying for a set menu, the theatre part of the ticket was in fact free. Audience expectations duly lowered the evening continued...
Service was dismal. The staff seemed flustered and reluctant to take an order or make eye contact until the glass of prosecco as part of the fixed-price menu arrived around half an hour after we had been seated. Food was also from a set menu, and we were served very shortly after the prosecco. Or rather the majority of the table was served: two diners had to wait for an additional half hour, and when the final plate of food arrived it was missing two components. The two vegetarians fared worse, as the waiting staff appeared unable to understand what providing a vegetarian option involved: having been told twice that neither ate fish, the manager suggested calamari as a possible replacement for something with meat in it. No thought had been given to making the experience of non meat-eaters resemble that of the rest of the party, and they too were served when the majority of the table had finished their food.
I'm giving this two stars rather than one because there was a certain accommodation on the part of the restaurant for their running out of the wine we were drinking, and they did, when asked, knock an amount off the bill to account for the delays, the food which never arrived and the shambolic service. But in all honesty, a restaurant which can't deliver a set menu on time to covers who were presumably mostly pre-booked should not be trying to do "special" evenings at all, and certainly making vegetarian diners feel uncomfortable and second-class is inexcusable in 2013. One final irritation was the manager's refusal to be drawn on whether or not the actors were being paid for their efforts: difficult to see where the extra money was going - certainly not on providing enough staff for the evening, nor seemingly stocking enough food or drink.
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