Foxtrot Oscar Restaurant, a review

You know how this is slang for …. well….. you know. …. take the initials of the two words and think of another phrase that has the same initials.

Well I always thought it was a strange name for a restaurant, even one owned by Gordon Ramsay.   But having eaten there it does feel as though that is actually what they would like their customers to do.

Mr B and I were given some vouchers, quite a substantial amount, as a thank you from a group of friends for any one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.  We had such an amazing time at Petrus (where we had the seven course tasting menu, a taste of Cristal Champagne, and given a tour of the kitchens) that we couldn’t wait to try another one of the Group’s restaurants.    We had been looking forward to this for months.

Childcare arrangements made, logistics of Mr B at work and not driving into London that day, taxi booked to bring us home, you know the drill when you go out in the evening.   We (myself and another couple, Jo and Ju) arrived slightly after Mr B who was safely ensconsed with a glass of wine.    We entered the restaurant and noticed nobody at the reception desk as we wandered in.   Hmmm.  Okay, I am not so precious as to expect to be greeted and escorted to a table four feet from the door but a cheery smile is often nice.

We settled ourselves in and a waitress came over and took our coats.  Well not mine.  She didn’t hang around long enough to get mine, having taken Jo and Ju’s.   you would think if three people come in together and two have coats, the third might as well.   Okay, I will just fold it up and put it on the bench next to me.

Now 8pm and you can imagine how we might like a drink.  Long days at work for all of us, train, cab to the restaurant.  Friday night.   Four people out to have a good time.  Who have booked a cab to take them home (£110 of cab) just so we don’t have to clock watch and worry about the last train.  Basically we had our drinking heads on.

We had to attract somebody’s attention to place our drinks order.   And once done it took twenty five  minutes for the three drinks to arrive.  One of which was a glass of Champagne so it wasn’t exactly time consuming.

Still nobody came to take a food order.

We have now been in the restaurant 45 minutes.

And had it not been for the fact we had the vouchers, we would have left.

Again we had to attract somebody’s attention to place our food order.  At this point Mr B, who is the most mild mannered and laid back person I have ever met, said “Is there a problem?”.   The waitress said there was not, they were just busy.     Hmmm, there were two empty tables so they have been busy but not fully booked.

I asked about the “steak sharing menu” that I had seen on the website and the reason why I had picked this particular Ramsay Restaurant on a Friday night.

“Are you doing the steak sharing menu tonight?  You have only given us the Al a Carte menu”

“Yes, it is the T bone on that menu”.

“So there isn’t a separate steak menu?”

“No, it is the steak on that menu”

“The T bone that is £58 (based on two people sharing)? ”

“Yes”

“But the website says it is £48”

“It is the market price”.

Hardly the “steak sharing menu” I was looking forward to perusing, a single line on the other menu.

I remarked that I didn’t recall seeing that disclaimer on the website but by that point I was so hacked off and hungry that I gave up and ordered a burger.

Can you see anything on this that says the price quoted is subject to change?   The website states £48.   The entry on the menu says £58.   No “market price”.  No “subject to change”.   Nothing.

The food duly arrived and to be fair.  It was delicious.  The gravalax starter was fabulous and the burger was superb.

But the service was appalling.   No offer of water (a great way for restaurants to add more money to the bill, by charging £5 a bottle but that we would have thankfully accepted).

No offer of any other drinks.  No brandies, no Armangac, no  nothing.   Just the wine we had with dinner.

We were four people out for the night who would have gladly spent a fair amount of money on this bill on top of our voucher.  In my mind this was a free meal and the budget for going out was going to be firmly spent on booze.

The chef, in fairness, did come over and apologised for the poor service.  He explained that the manager had fallen that evening and that they were without a replacement so the restaurant was being run by a lower ranking member of staff.

So when Mr B asked “is there a problem?”   Why did the waitress say “no”.    We would have been far more accepting if they had explained from the outset.

I skipped dessert and had a cup of tea which was delivered with hot milk.  I can’t stand hot milk in tea so asked for cold instead.

Twice.

Because the first request was forgotten.

We heard the table next to us ask for the 12.5% added to all bills to be removed from their bill as they were not happy with the service.   And were pleasantly surprised when we noticed that it hadn’t been included on ours at all.

We had asked for the cab to pick us up at 11.45.   At 10.15 we asked for the bill.    Our night out on the town, ready to spend some serious money on having a well deserved good time, was over.

The bill duly arrived and that was the last time a member of staff came to our table.

We had to wander down towards the cloakroom to get the two coats.   Nobody came and took the bill away, nobody thanked us for coming.  Nobody wished us a pleasant evening, nobody held the door open, nobody asked if we need a cab.

Nobody apologised again.

We Foxtrot Oscared off to the nearest pub.

Photo of Gordon Ramsay courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • Ouch. Glad the food was good but not glad about the service. I have to say, I think I notice bad service far more now that I’m a mum as nights out at restaurants are so rare. When they do happen (and you’re paying good money for them) you want everything to be perfect. So I don’t think we’ll be heading to Foxtrot Oscar any time soon by the looks of this review.

    • I think that’s the thing, isnt it? You plan these precious nights out and then they are huge disappointments.

    • That would be lovely but it isnt the reason I wrote the blog. It is about talking to customers, from the outset, not an hour in when they have asked the question “Is there a problem” and been told there is not!

    • Or an apology from the outset. Then we would have known, we would have been understanding.

      “Can we get you a drink on the house, I need to just explain that service levels might not be what you would expect tonight and we would like to apologise in advance”.

      Job done. And we would have sat back and understood, we are not that unreasonable.

      I can’t believe that in an organisation as large as Ramsay Holdings they couldn’t draft in a replacement Maitre D’ for the night.

  • That’s appalling service 🙁 you don’t get that in our local pub never mind a high end place.

  • Having worked in the restaurant trade throughout my time at uni, poor service is something which really irks me. In this case I wouldn’t even say that the lack of the appropriate managerial staff is any excuse for poor service. I would expect the staff (if experienced) to still be proficient enough in their roles to carry them out politely, attentively and efficiently. The role is still the same, to provide service, manager or no manager. It sounds to me as if the staff were either lazy, not suited to the job or in need of better training. That is only my opinion, but one thing I am sure of though is that I definitely won’t be in any hurry to eat at FO! Hope your next night out is more of a success!

  • I’ve worked in the trade and my husband still does and is now a manager. That is just shocking service and some staff there in need of serious refresher training. Customers are generally understanding, like you say, if they know from the outset.

  • Blimey, that is just shocking. Good on you for posting about it. Let’s hope it prompts them to up their game service-wise. Going out for a meal is not just about the food, it’s about the whole experience and this sounds grim.

  • Think you’re being a bit generous on the “polite enquiry” thing there T. From memory I think I asked two or three questions, and got ‘straight-bat’ answers every time. I gave them ample opportunity to say “Well, actually, we have a slight staffing issue”.

    It just wasn’t good enough, simple as that. It’s not the most convenient place for us, but a good experience might have seen us return when it’s a bit warmer….

    • You are right, Mr B. You did. And actually as has been pointed out above, if the staff were well trained then the lack of a manager should not have made any difference.

  • what a terrible night! I know what you mean about Petrus and their attentive service, but I found that some restaurants in the Gordon’s chain are a bit hit and miss. Both food-wise and service-wise. you ought to send this review to them and see what they come back with, because, if I was your friend who kindly bought you the vouchers I would be royally pissed off!

  • I would be so ANNOYED! Even if it were vouchers, it’s your TIME that you’ve given to these people in expectation of a good evening. I wonder if Mr Ramsey should do one of his famous overhauls on Foxtrot Oscar. How lame. And what a shame for you.

  • Progress depends on the unreasonable man!
    [GBS]
    Send your blogpost to the head of the company – with a few kisses of course!

  • I know I commented on Facebook and I haven’t had chance to go back and read the replies yet BUT my comment still stands. Service in a restaurant should ALWAYS be high standard regardless of the price of food, the time of day or the menu available.

    With regards to your update on Facebook… I presume the head chef is going to pay for your babysitters, taxis and drinks for the evening too?

  • I would be VERY unhappy with that. Nights out at a decent restaurant are limited for us parents. I don’t expect to be pandered to, but a smile and courtesy go without saying! I had. Lovely meal a while back, at the crown in bath. On ordering our 1st drink we were informed there were staffing issues that day and there may be delays. We explained that was fine and ended up having a very pleasant, lazy afternoon. It’s not too much to ask.