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The Crown and Anchor, Chiswick

Put simply: this place ruined our Christmas. Avoid at all costs.

This was actually the second time that we have not been served here and also the second time that we were offered free drinks as compensation for being 'overlooked'. The second time, it wasn't even done with good grace but we were made to feel like we had done something wrong ourselves. Avoid this place.

Now, I'm the first to give a place a chance and that's why we came back even after the first failure but to have exactly the same thing happen twice in a row and then on a family Christmas lunch is simply not on.

We'd rung a week before to book a table for Xmas lunch. Xmas day was full and we were offered Xmas eve instead. We booked for 1230 and asked about the menu. We were told to look at the festive menu online.

On the day, we got there early and the manageress acted surprised. She said she hadn't prepared anything and told us to choose any table.

Whilst I was waiting I was told that I might have to move since they were expecting a group of 12 and they might have to push two tables together. I offered to move to another table immediately but was told, 'it's ok, they're only coming at 5pm', It was midday.

Once my two other guests arrived we tried to order. Now the story was that there was no Christmas menu after all and we should order from the regular menu.

After protesting, the story changed to insisting that we should have pre-ordered. Yet we'd rung a week before and specifically asked about the Xmas menu and no one had told us then about pre-ordering.

We were made to feel as if we'd made a mistake and then the manageress changed the story for a third time and told us the festive menu was on after all but without the salmon and various other options. This was the menu that we'd been informed to look at the week before and since two out of three of us had wanted the salmon, it was already a disappointment.

Nevertheless, we ordered what we could, two nut roasts and a beef pie, not exactly festive. We also ordered a starter. This was at 1230.

After we arrived two other larger groups turned up and within short order, their food arrived. Half an hour passed with no sign of our starter. 45 minutes passed and still no starter. By this time all of the larger groups had mostly finished.

By 55 minutes my two guests, two senior citizens in their 70s had had enough and wanted to go home. I went to check on the food and instead of apologies, the manageress simply got defensive.

When I suggested that it would be reasonable to expect our starters at least to have arrived within the last hour, I was told that in her view, it was not reasonable because another group had ordered before us and they should be served first.

There was no attempt to apologise in a meaningful or sincere way, only in a grudging way which was no apology at all. Again and again, I was made to feel as if I had done something wrong.

Returning to my group, the two senior citizens I was with had decided to leave. As they prepared to leave I informed the manageress that we were leaving and to cancel our meal. More than one hour had passed at this point and all we'd received were glasses of wine that we ourselves had ordered and picked up ourselves from the bar.

The manageress was clearly upset that we were leaving but again her manner was combative and her throwaway offer of letting us off paying for our drinks came across more as a way of getting us out than a genuine effort to offer redress.

Now the thing was, our group had been in this place six months previously and exactly the same thing had happened then. On that night, an Irish barman called Steve had been working and he had gone out of his way to apologise and get us free drinks after our food had failed to turn up. He came over to our group, apologised, told us stories and eventually sat down with us and dealt with the issue with grace and charm. He is the reason that we came back at all.

This time in contrast, when one of my guests, the wife of the elderly couple, also in her seventies, tried to tell the manageress why this had been the second time it had happened, the manageress refused to even listen to her and instead ignored her and insisted that I had not given her a chance to speak even though I was not even speaking!

In a kind and reasonable way, the elderly lady in our group tried to point out why the service was not good enough but she wasn't listened to. At this point a man who was sat at the bar stood up and started to threaten our small group, one man and two senior citizens. We left.

The whole experience ruined our Christmas and if Steve, the Irish barman, had been there, we're sure it could have been handled sensibly. After all, we came back after the first time. We won't go back now. Avoid at all costs.

24 Dec 2013 18:27

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NickU has been registered on this site since 24th December 2013