I went to the Marquess Tavern this Saturday for mid-afternoon drinks followed by dinner, and couldn't disagree more with the Squaremeal review.
For a start, the service was really not up to scratch – yes, the staff were very friendly, but utterly clueless. Our waiter’s description of one of the specials was, cryptically, “ribeye with tomato”. I asked about chips. “Oh yes”, he said. “That's a given.” Of course it is, silly me for expecting him to mention them. We weren't able to establish what the other specials were. I suspect he didn't know himself. Service was glacial. Despite being the only table when we sat down, our starters still took half an hour to come. When they DID eventually turn up they were decidedly underseasoned, the scallops were cold on arrival, the artichoke was tasteless and little helped by something vaguely resembling garlic aioli, and I then had to ask the waiter to clear the plates away after they sat, dirty, on our table for 20 minutes. It took another hour for our mains to arrive. The steaks didn't come with the advertised and requested peppercorn sauce (panic ensued when we asked for it, and it didn't look or taste very peppercorn-y when it eventually turned up). My ‘jus’ was a splash of gravy, which every steak came with regardless of whether you asked for it or the sauce. The steak itself was overcooked (asked for medium rare, got medium well), and although I'm told the beef fillet was good, the chips were soggy, the broccoli watery and the requested ‘horseradish’ turned out to be mayonnaise. The final straw was the bill – it came to more than £50 each between 7 of us for two courses, four bottles of wine and a few beers.
The poor service and average food are a real shame, because the pub itself has a warm, welcoming feel to it and the drinks list is excellent. But I think it's just trying to be more than it is capable of and, despite the efforts of the genuinely nice (if inefficient) staff, the experience was a very expensive disappointment. My advice if you fancy a nice gastropub meal? Try the York & Albany.