Sold down the River – The River Restaurant at the Savoy

Whilst I am fully aware that my letter of complaint makes me look like I have nothing better to worry about than what types of cheese are on a plate and whether that is explained to me, the truth is, that when you pay for a premium dining experience, you expect a premium dining experience.  I was entertaining an extremely valued client and this was meant to be a treat.  It wasn’t.  It was yet another London restaurant trading on former glories.  More Fawlty Towers than Savoy Hotel.

I am familiar with the Fairmont Hotel Group and not in a good way but I was hoping, having read some really very good reviews from critics that I respect in particular, I expected something much much better than this.

The food itself was unmemorable and adequate.  The starter was unexciting – violet artichokes  were nothing special.  The Dover sole I followed it with was delicious.   The mashed potato was lukewarm and too firm.   My client said his beef was excellent but I think he was being polite.

The cheese plate was mediocre.  Had the service been up to scratch, the food would have been adequate .  Not exciting, not groundbreaking, but adequate.

This is an extract from my letter :

“I am writing to complain about the abysmal service received yesterday evening at the restaurant.

I was entertaining an important client.  I specifically chose the River Room as I thought I would be guaranteed superlative service.  These are my complaints:

1. No-one was at the door to greet us and we stood waiting around and had to ask a  waitress to find somebody to seat us. The greeting area was unmanned.

2. We were  offered an empty table in the outer room, in a sea of empty tables – not  particularly inviting.  We asked to move to the (clearly superior) part of the restaurant, overlooking the river and were placed in the area next to the serving station.  My own view is that there should be no table there, because the traffic from the serving staff to and from that serving station interferes with one’s meal.

3 The waiter came  to the table and greeted my client “Mr Richard” – and pointed out that his  own name was Richard. Not only is my name Richmond, not “Richard”, but my client is called Mr P……. and the assumption that I was dining with my husband was offensive and incorrect.  The table was booked in my name.  Even when I corrected the waiter and told him that this was not my husband, it was a client, he then just  carried on to say “and yes my name is Richard too”, so he was clearly not  understanding anything that I was saying.  Embarrassing.

4 We had to ask for the wine list.  No sommelier  came to the table at any point in the evening and there was no discussion  whatsoever about the wine to be taken with the meal.  Do you not have a sommelier in the  restaurant?  I find this astonishing.

5 The wine itself took an inordinate amount of time to arrive and I had to ask the  waiter where it was.  It came after the delivery of our first course.  Not acceptable.

6 Throughout the meal the wine was poured at slow intervals and not anywhere near frequently enough.  I should not have to ask the waiter to pour the wine.  We  would have had another bottle had it been poured properly.  At the end of the meal a third of the bottle was left, which we ended up drinking after the dessert.  If your people cannot serve wine  regularly, then they should leave it on the table.

7 We had to ask for an explanation of the cheeses on the cheese plate.  This should be done as standard.  Indeed, we should have been asked what cheese we liked/preferences, in my view.  Again, sub-standard.

8 We were not brought any petit-fours with the coffee.  I had to call a waiter and ask him whether there should be petit-fours and he apologised for this omission and went to get them.  We had practically finished our drinks by then.

9 I had to ask for the bill twice.”

I’ll let you know what they say.