shame it used to be great

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StefCrossland's review of The Brinsop Arms Westhoughton, Bolton

★☆☆☆☆

“shame it used to be great”

Written on: 31/05/2017 by StefCrossland (1 review written)

Having uses this establishment for many years and been extremely happy with both the service and quality of food, sister being a local and used this venue with positive reports, we booked a family meal on a Sunday afternoon, specifically at 4.30 so wouldn’t be over busy, to celebrate sisters’ 50th Birthday (so a reasonably prominent event). The party was a compact family unit; self and wife, mum, niece and the birthday girl herself.
With all of us being busy, it’s not often we manage to get together, in fact the last occasion being younger brothers funeral a couple of years ago. Birthday Girl wanted to pay as here treat for all of us getting together.
Arriving a little early, drinks ordered at the bar, promptly shown to the table…
This is where things started to fall apart.
Granted it’s been a while since we’ve been here so things do change, the menu seemed to be a lot more limited than we remembered, a quick request to the staff on the availability of other menus (bar menu, specials etc.) received a curt response of ‘no we don’t do that now’
Okay not a problem, reading deeper through the descriptions of the dishes, it was becoming evident the kitchen had become far more aspirational since the remodelling of the hotel and the lick of paint given to the ‘restaurant’ section (do seem to remember there being table cloths a few years ago, much better than the slightly sticky bare tables on offer now).
Finally, we all managed to have a bit of a catch up while deciding what to eat.
Staff approached to take the order…
What’s the soup? Don’t know I’ll just go and check… (good start?)
On return “what’s the fish in this particular dish?” Don’t know I’ll just go check (okay she’s young maybe they’ve thrown her in at the deep end and needs a bit more training and support)
This is where I must hold my hand up and say I’m fussy about ‘Jus’ ‘Gravy’ sauces or dressing of any description. So was specific in requesting a dish with the jus’ served separately (in a boat rather than straight on the dish) this was repeated to ensure the staff understood the instruction (simple enough we all thought).
Staff did a quick read through of the order, didn’t feel quite right, “are you sure you got all the meals?” “think so I’ll just read it back.”
The Lamb (mum)
The Gammon (birthday girl)
The Steak (wife)
The Fish without the prawns (niece)
The lamb with the sauce in the boat (self)
(starters where all correct)
Great thanks that’s correct, (keep this list in mind for later)
Around 40 mins later we had to ask where our starters where, on return “just being plated, will just be a couple of minutes” (what a coincidence)
The dishes where acceptable but we ran out of drinks half way through, it took 5 minutes to get the attention of staff to be able to order more. Half the drinks arrived with a “can I get you anything else?”
“I’m still waiting for a pint”
“What did you order?” (this is getting better)
Drinks complete, starters finished, table cleared.
At least another 20 minutes’ pass before we start commenting again on timings. The mains eventually arrive.
Waitress stands next to mum and says “Lamb” and serves mum, Gammon and serves Sister, Fish, serves niece, another staff stands next to me and says’ Steak, serves wife then states Lamb and what can only be described as ‘Clods’ a plate under my elbow to the table (perhaps it was a bit heavy and awkward to hold as it looked more like a tray than a plate), but did straighten it up so it sat nice in front of me.
It was instantly obvious that this was the wrong dish, “that’s not what I ordered” was my instant response.
Politely enough an apology and how did you order? was the question.
Repeated the that I asked for the jus’ on the side rather than on the meat.
No problem I’ll change it. Very quickly (couple of minutes) the meal came back. Wow that was quick…
The meal had been stripped off the plate, individual parts put in separate dishes and the pile of potatoes and Meat lifted, scraped off and dropped on a new plate (sauce still on the top layer everything else bone dry), this just about tips sister and myself over the edge. Niece, diplomatically takes my plate to kitchen (before sis and I have chance to explode). The ‘Bistro’ manager now shows up at the table to find out what the problem was. After a heated discussion & a host of simpering excuses, he was beginning to understand that this was not acceptable, asking “ok what do you want”. The dish was returned to kitchen while the rest of the party had to wait to eat with their dishes cooling rapidly (despite insistence to eat while I waited).
Eventually a new dish was rushed out of the kitchen (far faster than the original). This was delivered with another round of simpering excuses to the point I had to ask the manager to stop talking (he persisted) and was eventually shouted at to ‘go away’ twice
Everyone agreed that the food was not to the standard we had expected.
The bill was requested and presented by the manager (with the most efficiency we had seen all evening). There was a compensation of my meal being removed from the final bill. This hardly seemed adequate when we explained the service had been slow to the level of incompetence, the fish was dry, the gammon over cooked (to a cinder) both Lamb (different) dishes tough and grisly, the steak just okay (wife later stated it wasn’t that good but didn’t want to make any further fuss). More grovelling excuses and eventually a further reduction of drinks taken from the bill, with the comment “that’s all I can do”. This was accepted as we had had a couple of beers, couple of soft drinks and a bottle and couple of glasses of wine. Sister payed this by card punching in pin in extreme embarrassment with a wish to be away as quick as possible.
On checking through receipts the following day, its discovered that only my drinks had been taken off the bill, not as we had all understood on the evening.
A further compliant made to business manager, with numerous calls between the business, myself and sister leaves this matter unresolved.
In summary, while I applaud aspiration to better any standard a shot of reality must also be employed, a venue at this price point delivering dishes with the level of pretention displayed on Sunday, (something I would expect at a high-end restaurant/Bistro with a named chef in a city centre, akin to the ones I often use on business) would be expected to provide service that is exemplary with food that was impeccable. None of this was evident on the evening.
Give time to train the young staff and assist managers in dealing with customer complaints or stick to the ‘pub grub’ with a restaurant that was extremely successful for many years, a thoroughly unenjoyable evening that will not be repeated. Hardly “Fine dining for any occasion”

  • British

    Food Type

  • Over £25

    Average cost per head

  • Once or twice a year

    How often do you eat here?

  • Suits all

    Atmosphere

  • Quality of service

  • Quality of food

  • Value For Money

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