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|Address:||6-7 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BG|
|Tel:||020 7734 8128|
|Price: £35.00||Wine: £15.00||Champagne: £38.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Thurs-Sat -11.30pm)|
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We had an unbelievably BAD experience at the Empress of Sichuan! We got to know this restaurant in conjunction with Terracotta Film Festival 2012 as it was advertised in Terracotta programme booklet.
Basically, their staff refused to honour the 15% discount clearly offered in the booklet for the festival and charged our credit card the full amount, saying they'd not heard of the offer. When we complained and asked to speak to someone more senior, the two waitresses working claimed they could not reach the manager and had no way of refunding credit cards. They stated they’d be happy to refund us if we’d paid cash but couldn’t do so for a card payment, despite my husband offering to show them how a refund is done on the card machine. Whilst the £6 in question isn't a huge deal, it was the conduct of the staff charging us which really annoyed us. The two waitresses were smirking and giggling while talking to us and didn’t handle the matter with professionalism. They also showed us a number of leaflets for other offers, which had nothing to do with the matter at hand in an attempt to change the subject. It’s hard to believe they had not heard of the Terracotta offer when literature for the festival was placed on the tables as well as piled in the area near the front door.
Most importantly food wasn’t up to the standard we had hoped for. That, combined with the poor service from their staff was a huge disappointment. We ordered ma po tofu, marinated chicken slices in spicy sauce and boiled fish slices in extremely spicy soup. All the dishes were bland and the spicy soup had no kick to it. We expected spicy soup to be served hot and not luke warm. The chicken slices were more chicken skin than meat.
When we entered the restaurant there were set menus referred to on the windows but at no point were these offered as an option whilst we were inside. We initially thought the decoration was nice but after being brought to our table, we realised that the table cloths and wallpaper were stained. The leather seats for the tables along the walls were damaged and repaired with tape! We were asked to sit at a table for four in the middle of the restaurant, despite a smaller table for two being available. At no point was the restaurant busy, and by the time we finished our meal (4:30pm on a Sunday afternoon) we were the only ones in there aside from staff.
We asked to check the bill; they gave us a receipt displaying the total amount being charged with no mention of a service charge being included. Then I realised there was a small itemised bill below the receipt stating a 10% service charge was charged whether you liked it or not. When making our payment with the credit card we were handed the card machine to add a tip on top of the 10%!
Since this negative experience, we have confirmed with Joey Leung, the Terracotta Festival director, that the restaurant was well aware of the 15% discount offer and should have honoured it. He passed our details onto the restaurant manager but we have yet to hear anything from him/her, which is in keeping with the poor service we experienced at the time.
Nothing will make us return to Empress of Sichuan restaurant. Beware!