Saturday, 3 January 2015


Yesterday our good friend Sue Parker told Ann of a new 'Antique Centre' which has opened recently in Woodbridge, so this morning we motored over to Woodbridge to inspect it. Moderately successful in that I purchased a small late eighteenth century leather snuff box there. We did a bit more pottering around various shops in Woodbridge, then decided we needed a coffee, and found that all the coffee shops appeared to be full! In fact when we checked the time it was fully lunch time (if not a bit later than that). We then decided to drive home via Martlesham, to call in at the Red Lion for lunch. This is a lovely old Suffolk coaching Inn which we'd not been to for some years. It has recently been taken over by a firm called the Chef and Brewer, and was still fairly crowded. We were given a table after a short wait; there followed a rather longer wait  until we were able to order. There appeared to be only three serving staff waiting on a very full old Inn. We eventually were able to order our choice which was venison with vegetables and dauphinois potatoes (rather a favourite of ours), which was eventually served up at nearly two o'clock. Ann took a forkful of the dauphinois potatoes- then put her fork down and waited whilst I did the same- they were only half cooked, in fact the potatoes were  crunchy- quite inedible. I called over our waiter and explained the problem to him. He didn't seem altogether surprised, but said that if we'd care to carry on with our meal he'd try and get some ordinary mashed potatoes to go with it. We did as he'd suggested and carried on eating the venison (which was excellent). After about another ten minutes a rather more senior waiter (probably the manager). dashed over to our table with two small bowls of mashed potatoes, apologised for the mistake, thanked us for our 'patience' (which by this stage was wearing thin, I'm afraid), and hoped we'd enjoy the rest of our meal. When we'd finished eating the manager came over, asked if we wanted pudding, then  offered us coffee "on the house" - to try and make up for the 'dauphinois' half cooked potatoes.  We decided to have coffee, after which we paid the bill and left. The waitress presented us with 'a voucher' for ten pounds off our next meal there (these were being presented to all the customers). I left ours on the table, having resisted the temptation of scrawling 'not necessary - we shan't be coming back' on it.  We shall certainly not eat there again.
Having got home I've looked up Ann's recipe for potatoes dauphinois, and we are pretty certain that apart from being badly undercooked, several ingredients (crushed garlic clove, ground nutmeg, mature English cheddar, fresh double cream) were missing from the dish. The real problem, I think,  was that the place was badly understaffed. I would be interested to know what others do in these circumstances (apart, that is, from 'voting with their feet' as we intend to do.

The place is worth a look, it's very picturesque. But if you think of eating there - YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED !!


Z said...

I'd have done much the same - as for it not being authentic, I suppose that's what you expect from a chain, corners are cut,

Crowbard said...

The trouble is Mike, everybody knows managers cannot manage (even if their directors allowed them such liberties)
and caterers cannot cater unless they own the business and fully understand its vagaries. It is the accountants who have the influence in large organisations and they couldn't possibly account for concepts such as hospitality and quality of service, nor appreciate their worth.

Mike and Ann said...

Thank you Zoe, and thank you, Crowbard. I think, between you, you have got the measure of the place, and its present problems, far better than I had.

Mike and Ann said...

P.s. Pity, though.

Liz said...

What a shame - the Martlesham Red Lion is a favourite place of mine to eat and I've had some lovely meals there. I had a Christmas lunch there last year which might even be the best restaurant cooked turkey and trimmings I've ever had.
I transferred my allegiance to the Red Lion from the Black Tiles about 3 years ago (Chef and Brewer were already running it then) because it was so much nicer than the Tiles. It is always really busy; my last 2 attempts to book a table were unsuccessful because they were already full. I hope they were just having a bad day on Saturday.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Liz. Ref the Red Lion. It's been about fifteen years since we last ate there, and as I said, it was a bit disappointing. From what you say, I think perhaps 'it's a victim of its own success' - i.e. very busy on Saturday, and at the same time, very understaffed. Only fair to give it another try in the next few weeks, I suppose.