Is there merit in researching a restaurant before you book?

I am booked to go to a pub/restaurant in a nearby village this evening with a group of friends from my Rotary club, The Rotary Club of Towcester. Without thinking, when asked if I would like to join the group, I quickly checked the calendar on my iPhone, saw that I was free for the evening and saw that my wife was scheduled to attend her Yoga class so I rapidly agreed to join in. That was two weeks ago. In a five minute break today, I decided to quickly Google the establishment and check out the menu. I was alarmed by the most prominent review I found:

“There is definately some mileage in not going to a seafood restaurant that is about as far away from the sea as possible, especially when its midweek and quiet.

This is a place that requires a substantial wallet, with a main course creaping over £20 once you have paid for the side orders to accompany the solitary piece of fish. I would suggest from the serious lack of fresh ingredients, certainly during the week, that if you halved most of the dish prices you would still feel slightly aggrieved at the end of the meal. On a plus point the side order of chips were some of the best i had eaten in a good while but i hadnt really taken my wife there on her birthday to eat chips anyway.

The starter was not paid for as the shell on prawns fell apart in my fingers, didnt fill their shell anymore, and smelt distinctly odd! 4 out of the 6 items in the starter had almost no taste and the peeled prawns had simply been tipped out of their plastic tray on to the plate.

The two main courses still had a third left on the plates when we decided enough was enough. My wife left several of her scallops and monkfish as they were too much hard work to try and cut through – i gave it a go and decided to leave the scallops aswell. The wife did give the side order a veg a good write up!

I opted for the seafood thermidor which appeared to contain white fish with a sprinkling of those damn shelled prawns mentioned earlier. Even within this dish the prawns still held on to this odd smell which was confused between being off and a hint of detergent. My nose failed to identify which one.

Apparently the food is all made fresh to order although my thermidor was suspiciously cooler in the middle than the bubbling outside.

After we quickly decided not to test the puddings i enquired with the lady of the house if she had investigated the state of the prawns to which she replied ‘they are yesterdays apparently so they are normally alright – i dont like prawns so i wouldnt know. Strange i thought for the owner of a seafood restaurant!

I’m afraid the shortened evening ended with me being £50 lighter, having had an hour and a half’s view of 5 large biffa bins just outside our restuarant window, and a wife who spent the rest of the night becoming aqainted with the bathroom.

I was altogether too disappointed to complain any further at the time, hence the phonecall is just about to be made.

I have heard from friends who have been here at weekends that the food is great and they are people that would know the difference so this review may only apply to weekdays.

All i know is that since the day i was introduced to seafood i have never left any for the bin and have never felt the need to register for a restaurant review site.

I would suggest if they sorted the ridiculous prices out then more people would eat here during the week and hence a quicker turnover of fresh fish coming in. Not Good.

Have given it a three rating due to the chips, beer and giving us a non stop talking point for the last 16hours.”

I am now in panic mode. I don’t want to let my friends down but such a review  surely warrants some kind of action. Should I call my friends and apprise them of the review? Should I call and cancel? Should I go and make my own mind up?

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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