I love dining out, but if there’s one thing that always frustrates me and guarantees I won’t leave a tip, it’s poor service, and sadly that’s exactly what I got when I stopped in at Frankie and Benny’s in Milton Keynes’s Xscape the other evening.
I was travelling from Glasgow to London for an early morning exam, and by the time hunger struck I was on the approach to MK where I knew there was an Xscape housing some of my favourite restaurant chains. A quick detour, and ten minutes later I was sitting in a familiar red booth checking out Frankie and Benny’s mouthwatering menu.
After nearly fifteen long minutes I realised I couldn’t remember what my server’s face looked like any more, he’d been away that long. I could have forgiven them for being busy if the place had been packed, but only seven other tables were occupied. And when I did look to see where he was, I realised that all the servers were gathered around one of the tills, leaning on the counter tops and having a jolly good gossip.
When he did return and take my order, the wait was extended, and by the time my garlic mushrooms in cheese sauce starter arrived, congealed and stuck to the outside of the dish, it was lukewarm at best. He even had the cheek to tell me to watch the hot plate! Yes, perhaps, if you’d brought it fresh, was my passing thought.
The steak, which was more sinew and fat than edible meat, should have been done rare but arrived without having even been sealed on one side, so it was just as well I don’t mind raw meat. But by the time he’d taken it away to have the fries changed for the jacket potato that I’d actually ordered, the hot lamps of the serving counter had kindly dried the entire meal out. The salad it was served with had wilted and adhered to the bottom of the plate, while the peppercorn sauce I’d asked for had been generously poured over the entire dish (including the salad, and I definitely hadn’t asked for that to happen!).
When I complained about the entire service in general, I was politely informed that there wasn’t anyone available to take my complaint. Apparently the conversation around the till was too engaging to leave. It’s a shame really, because one of the comforts of eating in a chain restaurant is the familiarity of the food, consistent service and ease of dining, but this Frankie and Benny’s really wasn’t good at all. Disgusted, I left without dessert or coffee, something I never normally do!
And definitely no tip!
candidtraveller says this is one restaurant to stay away from until the service improves.
On a recent family break, my hubby and I decided to pack the kids, the dog and the tent into the estate car and head off to a remote part of Scotland to get a night’s escape. The idea was to spend some quality time with the kids for the night. We opted for a campsite instead of wild camping, purely because we were so short on time, and headed north west to the coast line around Mallaig.
This is a truly beautiful area, with golden sandy beaches and a lovely view to some of the more remote, and less well known, islands. Craggy and unspoilt, it is the perfect destination for a remote getaway.
There are loads of campsites to choose from, but on this occasion we chose the Silver Sands Campsite which lies just north of Arisaig. We phoned in advance and were told that the lady who ran the site wasn’t available, but just to head on up because there was space.
And so we set off on our 5 hour drive, arriving in Fort William just prior to 4pm. While I popped into the supermarket to grab a few more burgers for the BBQ, hubby telephoned ahead to make sure he’d got his directions right. When I got back to the car he divulged the conversation..
He’d spoken to the woman in charge who told him that the site was full. When he explained that we’d just driven for hours because we’d been assured that there was space, she told us just to come anyway and that they’d squeese us in. So, does that mean they’re full or not, we wondered?
When we arrived the office was closed, so we phoned her to check where we were to pitch. ‘Oh, anywhere you like,’ came the response. ‘But just don’t annoy anyone?’
Sorry?? What exactly does that mean? Don’t be noisy? Or, don’t pitch to close to someone else? Eh? Anyway, we chose the only spot we could find, which happened to be right next to the plywood toilet block, and set up our tent, hoping that no one would be ‘annoyed’ by our choice of pitch.
The site itself is basic, which isn’t a complaint because it hadn’t claimed to be anything else, but the best bit was the stunning view. The kids were down on the sandy beach where a sandbank allowed them to walk right out to a neighbouring, rocky island. They spent hours exploring the crevices, looking for crabs and other exciting creatures…
The evening was spent enjoying a BBQ outside the tent, and holding our noses every time the door to the loos blew open with the wind. And throughout the evening, more new campers kept arriving, obviously also with the command ‘Pitch where you like, just don’t annoy anyone’! Problem was, we were starting to get annoyed, as cars, caravans and trailers drove round our tent, the fumes competing with our smoking disposable grill.
The morning brought the owner, hand outstretched and clutching a money bag. Now, £15 isn’t much to pay for a pitch for the night, admittedly, but seriously, we’d have had more fun (and certainly more space) on a wild camp.
Silver Sands Campsite doesn’t get a recommendation from candidtraveller, and if you choose to visit here, be prepared for a self service visit, without the service.