The tales of a half-Spanish, Southern guy with Yorkshire roots living in Bolton and looking for some half-decent grub

Wednesday 11 June 2014

The Church House Inn, Marldon

Good service is just as important as good food.

Personally, I think every eatery should live by those words.  The dining out experience is as much about the way you are treated by the staff as it is about munching on memorable grub.  You want a special experience everywhere you go.

Just like the quality of the food, a rude waitress or unhelpful manager can ensure you never return to that establishment ever again.  

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have just returned from a family holiday in Devon where I had some memorable meals out.

Sadly, not all of those meals were memorable for the right reasons...

As a family we decided to have a celebratory meal out at the beginning of the week and set about finding a good pub somewhere close to where we were staying in Compton, near Torquay.  

Close by we found The Church House Inn, Marldon which, according to their website, has won multiple awards including 'Country Pub of the Year' as voted by readers of 'Devon Life'.

However, if I learnt anything from the trip it was that not all restaurants with 'awards' live up to the hype.

The first thing which took us aback about the Church House Inn was the price of the drinks. A cider and southern comfort and lemonade came to £8.

When we rang to book a month in advance, we were advised to come at 2pm. However straight after ordering drinks, we were rushed to our seat and rudely advised whilst browsing the menu that the chef was awaiting our order as the kitchen was about to close. Everything from then on was hurried and it soon became clear that the staff were hovering, eager to get us out.  

I ordered the Roast Beef which was of a decent standard but Hannah's portion, which I tasted to confirm, was as tough and dry as old boots.  The veg was also looking sorry for itself but at least they gave a decent, 'northern' amount of gravy.

My Brother-in-Law ordered the Seafood Platter which looked pretty good and had several small portions of fish from the coast, including smoked salmon. 

In fact, The Church House Inn seems to do seafood much better than they do other dishes. My Father-in-Law had a pleasant prawn curry dish which he really enjoyed.

This meal was not ruined because of the food though, it was the poor service.  

The accolade for 'worst service I've ever encountered' goes to the staff at the Church House Inn who started hoovering around the restaurant as we ate. It was only until we mentioned this to the Manager that they turned the hoover off.  When I confronted them about these issues, I was informed that the reason for the rushing and cleaning up around us was because the chefs and waiting staff wanted to go home and were waiting for us to finish our meals.

Determined not to let this spoil our family meal we asked to look at the dessert menu (which didn't go down well) as my two nieces fancied ice cream on this beautiful day. However the ice cream was £5.50 a portion which seemed extortionate given the quality of the mains.

In the end the Church House Inn took the disappointing beef dish off the bill after we explained we were not paying for it. We left a disgruntled note on the comment card and subsequently the owner called me the next day with an apology and an offer of a free meal for two.  

No one was keen to go back. 

A strong reminder to us foodies that when it comes to places with awards that all that glitters is not gold.

The Church House Inn on Urbanspoon


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