Rick Stein – my food hero

I was so excited to find out there was a Rick Stein restaurant in the town we were staying!

Last month I went to Goodwood Festival of Speed. I’ve been several times before, as it’s an event where the classic meet the new in automotive. There’s also loads of tech, experiences, shopping, eating and drinking. This year was definitely the best year yet – the standards were yet again higher and the event was very well done.

When we plan our time, we always work in a couple of days extra and together with our friends who travel from Guernsey to meet us, we like to eat at nice places.

When we were looking for somewhere to eat on the night of our arrival, I was excited to see Rick Stein had a restaurant in Winchester, where we were staying. Obvs I wasn’t expecting to meet him, but as he’s one of my food heroes, I was excited about the restaurant and its menu.

On arrival, we were asked to wait in the seating area and someone would come and get our drinks order. This was fine as we fancied a gin and to browse the menu. After some chasing, we were asked to be seated at the table, still no drinks ordered. 20 minutes had passed!

We sat at our table in front of the kitchen, so it was nice to see the action!

What I didn’t expect from a restaurant with such a reputation was what followed.

We were ready to order as soon as we sat down as we’d had so long to browse the menu in the waiting area. We were also ready for that drink!

When the server came to our table we ordered a bottle of my favourite, Piquepool de pinet, £28. It arrived, and I think it had been sitting out in front of the oven on something, so I had to send it back. The server informed me it had just come out of the fridge… aye right, love. Don’t lie and don’t make excuses, just fix the problem.

She returned with a chilled bottle and it was divine.

We ordered our food and mineral water, thankfully, then some bread arrived. We were pretty hank marvin’ by this point!

Our food took forever!! I can’t even tell how long it took but it must have been 30-45 minutes for the starter! I was so not impressed.

Never mind that, but we overheard the staff arguing, then the kitchen getting irate at the staff for taking so long to get the food out, then the staff arguing with the kitchen! Highly unprofessional, not what we wanted to hear and basically, the place just seemed disorganised, badly managed and no-one really cared about the customers.

The grub

When we eventually got our food, it was delicious. There was no faults with the food whatsoever.

  

I ordered the beetroot cured salmon with cucumber salad followed by John Dory alla Cortina. I was trying to be healthy!

Of course, there’s no visit to a new place accomplished until you review the toilets!

There was beautiful mosaic tile work in the entrance to the loos with a stunning wall hung, full length mirror.

The toilets, despite the restaurant being so busy, were tidy, clean and offered a touch of luxury with the old reconditioned toilet cisterns, luxury handwash and moisturiser.

Scoring

Food – 4.5/5 Couldn’t fault it, but the presentation could have been a bit better of my main course

Service – 1.5/5 There is little to say other than the best service we received was when we were paying the bill

Atmosphere – 1/5 The place was buzzing but was ruined with staff arguing and a feeling of disorganised chaos

Interiors – 4/5 Loved the interior – just what you’d expect from one of Rick’s place

Value – 3/5 We were offered nothing by way of goodwill gesture, despite making several complaints. We didn’t ask, as we don’t, but having worked in the industry, it does go some way to showing the customer you are sorry. For being one of Rick Stein’s restaurants the prices could have been sky high, but they were pretty reasonable for a restaurant of that standard, especially the wine. It was very reasonable.

Overall – 2/5 I’ve already left a Facebook review and emailed the group with my thoughts

Thoughts?

I’m hoping this is a rare occurrence for the restaurant. I’m hoping Rick knows about all the goings on, afterall it’s his personal and business brand being affected.

I’d like to think that on a normal night, with good staffing, the service would have been of a much higher standard. I’d also like to think they look at what they could have improved on. Keeping customers in the loop on a busy night is essential. Tell them there’s a delay in food, tell them you’re running behind, but just don’t pretend everything is normal and then balls it all up. That’s when people don’t come back.

If we stay in Winchester next year for Goodwood, I’d go back. I’d like to see a normal busy night with great food, service and atmosphere.

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