I visited Penzance during the May bank holiday weekend. Expecting restaurants to be crowded on Saturday night, I went into The Dolphin Tavern in the afternoon to reserve a table. The bartender was friendly and welcoming in taking my 7:30pm reservation. We even discussed that this particular holiday weekend marked the beginning of its peak summer season. I arrived a little early. The bartender greeted me warmly, explaining the wine by the glass options (as I tasted the flavored popcorn snack on the bar), and then pointing out my table.
My optimism for a delicious or even adequate dining experience was not to last long. The restaurant was busy not yet jammed, as tables awaited later reservations. The waitress dropped menus on my table and curtly directed my attention to specials written on the wall. When she returned, offering no explanations and soliciting no questions, I ordered the grilled sole. A few minutes later, she abruptly reappeared to advise that they were fully booked. My order would take 30-35 minutes and didn’t I want to order an appetizer to appease my hunger! I declined. So, imagine my surprise when 15 minutes later my dinner was plopped in front of me. The sole’s head and tail exceeded the plate. It was a whole fish after all, not a fillet. In vain, I tried to get a waitress’s attention to secure a fish knife or side plate for the long skeleton +bones. Nope! I was invisible, despite my table’s location on the pathway to the other dining rooms and nearby tables.
The fish was tasteless, devoid of any seasoning, and, when I flipped it, I learned that the underside wasn’t done. I thought another glass of wine might help, but no luck getting noticed. Once finished and plate pushed aside, another 10 minutes lapsed. I know this because the bar clock was in clear view– not because I was fixated on my wrist. Finally, when the waitress did stop, I told her I might have wanted another glass of wine earlier. Distracted, she replied “We’re fully booked”. I said a plate for the fish skeleton or more water would have been nice. The shrugged reply, “We’re fully booked.” There seemed no point in suggesting that, of course, they were fully booked, it should have been staffed to handle it--on the holiday weekend launching summer peak. I did leave a 15% tip anyway. Understaffing is not up to the kitchen or waitresses, that’s on management's plate. So, maybe for lunch mid-week in February or March …when it’s not booked?!!?
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- Also Known As:
- The Dolphin Tavern Hotel Penzance
- The Dolphin Tavern Penzance, Cornwall