11 May 2009

Worst travel experiences: Dining out in London

It's about time we owned up to some of the really bad travel experiences as well as waxing lyrical over the really good ones. Once you start travelling, it is amazing just how many of both extremes of experience come your way. The bad experiences stick in your memory, and are just as much a part of the retelling long after the holiday - often to be laughed off, even if it wasn't at all funny at the time.

One of the most prominent bad experiences in my mind relates to dining out at a certain Chinese restaurant along Brompton Road, Kensington (London) between the V&A and Harrods. I googled it prior to writing this post and was amazed to find it still operating (we visited in 2002). It got excellent reviews, and by any standards has an outstanding menu. 

We visited at lunchtime, and not for dinner, so the restaurant was quite empty apart from a table occupied by staff from the diplomatic missions nearby. 

Well, I believe that the food we ate that day was excellent. I can't remember, of course, because such a highlight of this dining experience was completely overshadowed by the service - and in particular the attitude - of the staff. I cannot begin to relate how appalling the service was. It appears that the source of this poor service was none other than the fact that brought with us one of those nasty, filthy objects known as "children".

We only had one child at this stage, and she is a well-seasoned diner in fine restaurants. The Bookworm has good table manners, is polite, eats practically anything put in front of her and I don't think she'd ever had a tantrum in a restaurant. She's not perfect by any stretch, but you could take her anywhere - even when she was a tiny baby. You still can.

Well, didn't we suffer because of her presence! The disdain was palpable. The staff couldn't get rid of us quickly enough. We were made to feel as if we were most unwelcome, and we'd better leave ASAP. I'm just sorry that I put up with the attitude and paid the bill. Next time - if there is a next time - I won't be doing either.

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