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★★★☆☆

“Service lets it down”

Written on: 10/06/2012

We found Umberto's, which I would still call a "gem", about three months ago. We only visit at lunchtime when the reataurant is quieter, so the still considerable wait for our usually quite delicious food is tolerable - just. I have often wondered how they cope in the busy evenings as Umberto is only assisted then by one other chef in a tiny kitchen as I understand it. The house wine is pretty dire and the wine list seems to us very pricey for a small restaurant - so we limit ourselves to one glass of the house wine each rather than splashing out on a bottle of Frascati for example, which we would prefer. Rather a short sighted policy methinks. Service is slapdash and not very effectively carried out. I suspect, however, that the speed of the waitress is governed by the (slow) speed of the kitchen and deliberately so I suspect. One can understand that a wait for freshly cooked, good quality food is necessary but this makes the service side of things even more important. Indeed it could offer the canny proprietor opportunities to increase his sales pattern during the wait, if inteligently managed - rather than wasting valuable time arguing about tap water or summat!. The customer does not appear to be King here and i suspect that this stems, for some reason, from the top. A great pity because the standard of cooking is, in our experience, authentic and very tasty.