On eating out.


I’ve mentioned before that we were building an extension.  Because of it we lost our kitchen for a few months and were living on what we could either microwave or air fry in the house.  That is a pretty boring diet, so we also had more carry outs than we have had in years and have been doing the rounds of local pub grub establishments and restaurants.

I have to say that for a town the size of Bangor, the restaurants despite not being cheap to dine in are almost universally pretty poor.  Buying wine in a restaurant costs a lot, but what you get in return for your hard earned cash has frequently been not much more than vinegar.  Why is it that £6 to £7 quid can get you a pretty decent wine in a supermarket, yet three or four times that amount in a restaurant buys something only fit to put on chips?

Restaurants here have been complaining for years about people not eating out as much as they used to yet provide a not very enjoyable eating experience when you do go out with mediocre food and over priced vinegar.  What is the point in eating out when you can have better food (and exponentially better wine) in better surroundings at home for a fraction of the price?  Of all the ones we tried out recently, there are only two that we would actually go back to, and one of those is so seriously expensive that it will be reserved for special occasions.  There is not one that we would want to go to regularly.

When our poor old dog Tilly was still with us, we hadn’t eaten out in ages because of her increasingly bad health, but we seem to have found that something has changed out there.  The desire of restaurants to actually please customers and to earn repeat business appears to be a low priority.  A quick snatch and grab of as much cash as they can fleece you of has sadly replaced this, and this is a real shame.

Take last night.  My wife and I met up after work in Belfast and went to a restaurant called The Chubby Cherub on Chichester Street.  The surroundings are nice, and the service was good.  We only ordered pizza, a bottle of wine, with coffee afterwards.  The wine was not the worst we have been served when eating out recently, but definitely not in the ‘vintage’ category.  It was listed on the wine list at £26.90, so was pretty expensive, especially when compared to the £6.00 or so you can buy comparable wines for.   It was the second cheapest wine on the list by the way!  The Pizza’s were tasty enough, but pretty soggy.  

They automatically apply a service charge too.  I dislike this immensely.  Tips should be at my discretion and not at the whim of the restaurant.  A bill totalling £73.59 for two mediocre pizzas, a mediocre bottle of wine and two cups of coffee does not represent either value for money or the true worth of what was provided.  Needless to say, we will not be back.

I don’t understand why restaurants cannot provide decent wine and food for what they charge and then still expect repeat business?  The number of these businesses that close relatively soon after opening must be evidence that the rip off business model does not work.  The example above isn’t even the worst example of eating out that we have had recently and would not encourage us to try other local establishments.  Surely it is time for a change in the eating out business model?


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