Katherine MacAlister and her family experience a disappointing visit to the newest eatery in Witney
I had to mentally check my in-house rule book when reviewing Como Lounge, Witney’s newest eaterie, just to reiterate the no-no’s of the restaurant trade.
And there at number one in the How To Run A Successful Restaurant guide was: 1) good service.
Good service is vital, I can’t emphasise that enough, and while we may take it for granted, or fail to appreciate it enough, like the little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.
And Como Lounge’s service was so horrid it seems almost cruel to list all its deficiencies, but I shall at least give a few.
To start, we had ordered ‘tapas’ which was a complete misnomer because tapas are small plates of Spanish food, not sharing plates from around the world. But still we chose the pan-fried halloumi, courgettes and peppers with rose harissa dressing, the chicken teriyaki skewers with sesame and mirin dressing and the honey-glazed shredded five-spice pork, three for £9.25, which arrived with bread on tiny tea saucer size plates and disappeared without touching the sides.
And then we waited and waited. They cleared our plates and we stayed sitting until eventually my daughter asked whether we were supposed to go and fetch our food as well. The same man then came back and asked us if were ready for our mains! An hour after arriving at a restaurant for supper, I would say so.
By this time I had almost lost the will to live but we were all cheered up by the mains which weren’t bad at all. We tried the burgers and hotdogs, although the addition of sour cream to the £8.50 Smokehouse frank was wrong in so many ways, but mainly because it made the cream curdle. The pan-fried chicken breast with chips and rocket salad (£10.50) was a generous portion with well-cooked clean meat and the best meal of the night. I don’t know what they’d done to the rocket salad; it had gone dark green and slimy and smelt terrible. The kids’ macaroni cheese was a big success and we tried the Chicken Caesar burger £9.50, although Mr Greedy questioned the addition of anchovies. I know it’s an ingredient in Caesar dressing but in a burger? The Rib Tickler (£9.75) made with eight-hour slow-cooked pulled pork, barbecue sauce, Cheddar cheese, sour cream and sweetcorn relish in a brioche bun with house slaw and skin-on fries also disappeared with a shrug.
We then sat with our dirty plates for a while before descending to the ground floor once again to order pudding.
I stood at the bar while four staff chatted behind it for at least five minutes, ignoring me completely. Need I go on?
Puds were fine, arriving before our last course was cleared, an Angel Delight style knickerbocker glory (£4.50) and some sticky toffee pudding blocks with ice cream (£4.75).
The food was fine, it wasn’t the problem, but regardless of our tucker we couldn’t leave fast enough, my sense of humour having departed faster than a spirit at an exorcism.
I know Como Lounge has only been open a few weeks – while we were there they were training up the staff, which if anything I was encouraged by – but the inertia and the disregard for the customer was inexcusable.
Ordering your own food is inconvenient, but more than that it means the waiters and waitresses are out of sync with where you are in your meal. But if I had to sum up our experience, I would say they acted as if we were doing them the favour and not the other way around. Never again.
34 Market Square, Witney.
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