This is the 4th visit I have made in last 6 months and unfortunately it seems the Brewer’s House is becoming a victim of its own success as for first time I left feeling as if I had been on a conveyor belt in a restaurant more focused on making profits and fitting in as many covers as possible rather than allowing diners to enjoy a night out. The previous 3 visits were excellent experiences which, though not without fault, were memorable for fantastic food, superb service staff, and a relaxed atmosphere. On this occasion, only one of these three features was in evidence.
We made a reservation for 7.30pm and my partner and I arrived early at 7pm as one of the big attractions of this restaurant is to try the unusual guest beers, ales etc. they stock. Our intention to do this by arriving early and sitting at the bar was totally ruined by 4 separate attempts to “encourage” us to go to our table rather than allow us to sit at the bar and have a relaxed drink whilst we read the menus. On the 4th attempt, (within 20mins of our arrival!) to move us by asking if we were ready to order at the bar(!), we finally gave up and went to our table. Reason became obvious as the restaurant was fully booked that night and became evident that there were second seatings (even though this was never communicated to us either at time of booking or when we were having our meal). End result is that before I even chose our wine for dinner, our starters were served (within a couple of minutes of ordering!). The same happened with our mains and within 45mins of sitting at our table, our desserts were served. The entire experience felt rushed and this unfortunately showed in the quality of the food served. Whilst it was ok, it was not remotely to standard of our previous meals in this restaurant. My mackerel starter was completely overpowered by a lemon chutney whilst my partners sirloin steak was, bland, anaemic in appearance and underseasoned, and side orders (an inflated £3 but each essential as vegetable accompaniments to main meals are more garnishing than substance) were terrible. On plus side, the brill and halibut main was very good and chocolate gateaux was one of best I have eaten.
But another major issue on the night is that for a restaurant that prides itself on its brewery credentials, to have a monthly guest beer on display and then not have any in stock, and then also have another guest beer prominently advertised and also out of stock, raises questions as to whether success is coming at the expense of attention to detail. To the credit of the service staff, they go out of their way to smooth over such issues but surely this should be management responsibility preventing such issues occurring?
The restaurant has no real competition in Mid Ulster and it is obvious why it is so popular. The service staff are excellent and on previous visits the food was excellent. I am hoping this was just a one off bad night but to pay almost £100 for a dinner which felt rushed from start to finish with so many issues in the overall experience, I think it will be some time before we go back. Overall a very disappointing experience.
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