09 June 2013
I've been to Tendido Cero maybe a dozen times in the past, in fact it had become my default restaurant for entertaining American relatives visiting London. In the past we've always enjoyed our visit and enjoyed the food. This time, it all went wrong, so drastically wrong that I won't be going there again.
I needed to book a late lunch as my young American cousin and her friend were going to be arriving quite late. So I checked the Tendido Cero online booking, and booked a table for 4 for 2.30, the latest time offered. We weren't late, but almost as soon as we were seated one of the staff came over and told us, in a very hostile fashion, that we needed to give our order quickly as the kitchen would soon be closing.
Soon be closing! To accept a booking for 2.30 and only then announce that the kitchen would soon be closing? Why?! Why didn't they just reject the booking? As anyone who has used the Tendido Cero online booking system will know, it's not automatic, you have to wait for a confirmation. So why did they confirm the booking if the kitchen was due to close shortly after our arrival time? I don't know the answer.
We ordered our food, and it was delicious as always, but before we'd had time to finish eating (and we weren't dawdling, we were eating at a normal rate) we received a further reprimand and were told again that the kitchen would soon be closing and if we wanted dessert we needed to order it now. At this point we spoke up and objected to the way we were being treated. We ordered our desserts, and then sat waiting for the table to be cleared, but this didn't happen. It soon became evident the staff were sulking because we'd objected to the repeated reprimands.
I went to the bar and asked one of the staff: “Do you want us to pay and leave now or do you want us to have the desserts we've ordered and then leave?” He started to speak to me angrily and tell me (yet again) that the kitchen was closing). I repeated my question. He then shrugged and said grudgingly “You can have your desserts if you want dessert.” (!)
The table was then cleared, very ungraciously, and two desserts were brought (we'd ordered three).. We shared the two that had been brought, and I asked for the bill immediately, paid (with full tip as I felt determined to maintain the moral high ground), and left. The staff maintained their sulk right to the end, glaring at us as we left!
I can only suppose that management problems must have been behind this behaviour. It's their loss, not ours, as we won't be using this restaurant again. Pity, because the food is nice, but the hostility has spoiled it forever for me.