Last Thursday I was on the phone to McSmile. We were just chatting, catching up, deciding what we’d do for the weekend [apart from watch the rugby], when I mentioned that I’d like to go out to Brunch on Saturday. ‘Brunch, is it? On Saturday? Ok then!’ was the response. See, I’d heard good things about this place, both in newspaper reviews and from a few people I know that had been there, so I really wanted to go!
‘I’m not queueing up! No way! I’m not bloody well waiting half an hour to eat anywhere’ – a most definite response from McSmile after I asked him if he was as excited as me about Brunch before we left [I tend to get a bit carried away eating at new places]. I just ignored him, I reckoned we’d be waiting a few minutes but sure all I had to do was get him there and it’d be fine. We arrived after a 10 minute stroll from his place, it was a nice day and we were really looking forward to the rugby. We just about got in the door as there was a group of maybe 4 or 5 people blocking the entrance.
So, we just stood there as the waiter said something to them, disappeared, arrived back, said something else and then disappeared again. ‘Well, I’m having a beer’, ‘I think I’ll just have a coffee’, ‘No way! Sure the rest of us are having a drink! God! You’d think that they make some effort to just put two tables together, seeing as I told him we’d be here for a while and there’s a crowd of us’.
Myself and McSmile started eyeballing each other. A guy was ‘busying himself’ behind McSmile and then brought a coffee over to a guy at a nearby table. Then did a return trip straight away with just a muffin in his hand. then returned to staring at the cash register. The group in front of us started to get a bit agitated. The door opened behind me but the two ladies realised that there wasn’t room for them to step inside. I stuck my hands even deeper into my pockets. I tried to assess the situation, gauge McSmile’s patience levels. Mind you, mine were wearing very thin. See, we’d been standing there for ages by now and not one single person working there had acknowledged our presence. The group in front were sitting down and flopped all over a table for two just inside the door, still waiting to be seated. The place really didn’t seem that busy. There wasn’t any big air of hustle and bustle about the place.
‘Do you want to just go over and grab that guy behind the cash register? This is getting ridiculous’. McSmile turned around and Mr Busy at the till leapt out and was at a table within 2 seconds, clearing the 2 plates that suddenly were making the place look untidy.
‘For Fu…’ I just took a deep breath. McSmile was clearly agitated and I really didn’t feel like defending the place. ‘Right’, I said, ‘I wanted to eat here cos the food is meant to be good but they’ve already lost any hope of a tip from me’.
The waiter came back and after all that, it was time for the group to be seated but he continued to faff around in front of us. A waitress came down the stairs and us shuffling from one foot to the other, clearly trying to get someone’s attention were being totally ignored.
‘Do they think that we’re with the group?’ I asked
‘No, sure how many times did that prick ask the group for a head count’.
‘This is feckin’ ridiculous! Ridiculous! WE should not be the ones to have to try and battle our way into getting an acknowledgement from someone, anyone that works here that we’d like to sit down and y’know, spend money here!’
I was really raging at this point. We had clearly been standing there for over ten minutes and no one come up to us, handed us a menu, apologised for any delay, assured us we’d be seated ASAP… NOTHING!
‘Right! That’s it! I’m bloody well pissed off now, let’s go. Let’s just leave. Fucking RIDICULOUS.’
‘Jesus. This IS fucking ridiculous. Like hello!! Yep, let’s go. I am soo annoyed. I’m just not prepared to stay here any longer’
I don’t care if any of the staff heard us making a dramatic exit and I don’t care if they didn’t hear us [mind you, chances are that they didn’t take their heads out of their arses long enough to hear us so…]. But the several people that were queueing behind us by then sure as hell knew we weren’t happy. And that kind of thing always plants a seed of doubt if you’re waiting to get in somewhere.
Oh we were both raging as we stomped down Camden Street.
‘Look, there’s another restaurant just before Portobello Bridge and we’re walking that way anyway’.
‘Have a look at the menu first, just in case’.
As we were looking at the menu at the front of Seagrass Restaurant, a very friendly girl said hello, asked how we were and asked if we’d like to come inside. We had barely scanned the brunch menu but immediately answered in unison, ‘Sure, why not? Thanks!’
The place was lovely inside, crisp lines, very clean, nice unobtrusive paintings on the walls. And it was busy too, so others must like it. By the time the soothing waitress had handed us the menu and asked if the table was ok, both of us sighed with relief. This would definitely do! The food was gorgeous, the staff very friendly, we weren’t waiting long [even if our hungry faces got us a second free helping of fabulous tomato bread and pesto] and the total bill was reasonable. If you are in that part of town and a bit peckish, Seagrass just by the Portobello Bridge is definitely worth a visit if you want to be treated like a paying customer should be treated and have a really nice meal to boot!
So shame on you Green Nineteen of Camden Street for having such appalling staff that don’t prioritise your [even potential] customers. I for one won’t ever go back and remember, I haven’t even eaten your food yet I’m prepared not to darken your door again.