29 November 2008
Table of nine of us booked a table in advance at F & S. We were told that a booking of this size could only choose from the set menu (choice of 3 starters, 5 pizzas and 3 deserts). Price of £22.95 each and we were told this included a glass of wine. We arrived and table was ready, nice place, good decor, very busy and a nice buzz…So far so good. Then were were given the set menu to choose from. Very poor choice, all pizzas with meat on also had roast potatoes on? Pizza with roast potatoes? Thats a carbohydrate overload, why? Also all pizzas had sour cream, chilli jam or some other wet sauce on (pizza's are their business so we trusted the combinations may work). We struggled to make a choice and all ordered with a few doubts as to what to expect.
We then compared this menu to the normal menu, the actual price was more expensive per head by going for the set menu rather than the standard (Standard menu prices were; starters £4.50, pizza's £9, sweet £4.50 plus a glass of wine; house red/white was £3.70 a glass, this was less than the £22.95 we were being charged for the set menu!!!?!?!??) We asked our waiter if we could order from the normal menu as the choice was so poor on the set, we were told no way at all could we do this as (and I quote) ‘we order our stocks in advance knowing who is choosing from what menu’. This was ridiculous, there was a queue of people outside without bookings waiting to get in, how could F & S know what they were going to choose?? Anyway, ordered from the set menu as we had no choice.
Starters being honest were OK, nothing great but OK. Then the main course the pizza'a (which is after all is what F & S are all about). They were simply awfull. Un-edible for all of us and we are 9 men, men will eat ANY pizza! 3 of us were so unhappy, we sent them back to the kitchen, 1 just left the whole thing less one mouthfull and the rest of us, trying not to cause a scene politely scraped all the topping off the pizza and just eat the base. The toppings just did not work on any level (and we can all cook, we appreciate good food whether traditional or modern), roast potatoes and a huge dollop of sour cream, the Christmas pizza (JUST DONT EVER DO IT!!) was covered in a sickly sweet, and cinamon infused cranberry sauce, again sour cream along with Pumpkin and turkey so thin, you could not even tast it. All you could taste was cranberry sauce.
We fed our comments politely back to the waiter, who simply shrugged and walked off. We chased our included glass of wine for the 3rd time, and by the time it arrived the main course was over. We were given (no option to choose even a colour of wine) a cheap sparkling white. We were all red-drinkers so this was of no use or interest to us. Again we were told there is no option/negotiation. Sweet, as with starter was OK only, not great or even good (Oh, forgot to say that one of us found a huge hair within their half-eaten chocolate brownie!). We ordered 3 extra bottles of red to drink as well at a staggering £25 a bottle for a very average tasting French table wine.
Total Bill was £375 (including the suggested 12.5% SC). We paid cash and did not pay the service charge. We told the waiter why, not for the service but for the poor food, poor choice and extra charges already faced by eating from the set menu. He told us he would need to ‘clear this was OK with the manager’ and said he would bring them over to our table. We were keen to feed our comments back to someone in authourity so we waited for the manager. Surprise surprise, they never arrived and the waiter never came back either, so we left.
This is a HUGE place with 2 floors that must seat 100 people each. This means that unfortunatley you are treated a little like cattle, quick in, quick feed, average service and the quick out. On leaving we bumped into two couples having a conversation about how poor their meal had been as well, so this appeared to be not only us that had experinced dissapointment overall.
In summary, a very dissapointing night. F & S has been in Cov Garden for a couple of years now I believe. If this is so they have reached a stage of complacency. The waiters did not care what we thought of the food, we had limited, if any choice to choose what we wanted simply because we were a table of 9. I would of thought most of the competition would relish to seat a table of 9 rather than treat them as second class customers, as we were.
Bad news spreads faster than good, none of us will ever eat there again and we will spread the word. There are many a fantastic pizza eatery in London; Strada & Eco to name but two. Choose wilsely, from what we could see, F & S are appealing to the tourist trade in Cov Garden. As a tourist, if you dont like the food, they dont care, you dont live there so they are not going to lose your future business. Well, they've lost ours and I am sure unless things improve, many others in the future…