I cannot tar every Little Chef with the same brush, but the Little Chef (rest # 20959) on Newcastle Road in Talke takes the prize for the worst establishment I’ve ever visited. Woohoo!!!
We had the misfortune of visiting this restaurant on Monday (yeah…a bank holiday. Loads of happy people enjoying a wee mini break!)
Sadly…enjoyment and happiness is something that has completely passed by the staff in the Talke branch.
We sauntered in to the place around 9.30, bright eyed and bushy tailed (following a fabulous wee sleep in the Travelodge next door). We were greeted by the most contemptuous group of staff I have ever met. Elaine, our waitress, literally could not bring herself to crack even a glimmer of a smile. We were instructed to sit where we liked. As we are ruled by our three year old, we followed our tiny leader to our table. She chose a table pretty close to the hot plate that separates the restaurant from the kitchen. Peering through the gap was a very irritated and almost aggressive looking wee woman and a younger man. Both scoweled through to the customers as we perused the menu. It really did feel like they were willing us (or threatening) us not to order anything!
Little did they know they had absolutely nothing to worry about…because there was NOTHING on the menu for vegans. There was literally two vegetarian items in total. In ordinary circumstances I’d have called the waitress over and asked what could be done to veganise something on the menu…but to be perfectly honest, I would rather wrestle with a grizzly bear or a crocodile (perhaps even both at the same time) than ask the chef to make any amendments to the menu. She looked like she would jump through the hatch and throttle me!
After a VERY short discussion, We opted for the baked beans on toast. We ordered an extra slice of toast each and got Bette a vegetarian kids breakfast (a veggie sausage, an egg and some baked beans with a slice of toast). We asked the waitress if we could have our toast unbuttered to which she replied “we butter nothing” and walked away. By this time I’m beginning to see the comedy in the situation. Elaine brought over our pots of tea (in perhaps the most chipped tea pots I’ve seen being used) and apple juice…she gently placed them all on the table with a smile. Only kidding…she banged them on the table and walked away. Service with absolutely no style!
As the order went into the kitchen I heard the angry woman say to her man-slave…”veggie sausage, they must be vegetarian” with a very disgusted look on her face!
Shortly afterwards…the meal arrived. The man from the kitchen dumped them on our table, deposited a basket of sauce and fucked off back to his lair.
What can I say about the food? Hmmmm….it was hot. As in, nuclear. Clearly she’d fired the beans in the micro on full heat until they were bubbling like molten lava. The beans were definitely Heinz; I know this because I got lots of blue packaging floating about in them.
Don’t get me wrong. I ate it all. I was starving…and they were £5 each (with the extra slice of toast). The tea was awful, cold and stewed.
To top it all…as I’m eating my breakfast I glance up and see the guy eating something behind the hot plate, whilst preparing the other diner’s meals. He finished what was in his mouth and promptly wiped has mouth with the palm of his hand, before immediately turning and popping black pudding into their cooker! No hand washing…no food hygiene…just some black pudding with slevers! I honestly felt physically repulsed, but as I’m a gannet, I had no food left on my plate to reject.
In the interest of complete fairness. I have to point out that although the waitress had zero finesse or enthusiasm towards any of her patrons…she did keep the dining area in order. Everyone appeared to be served quickly and they had everything they needed. Minus personality or warmth from the team. The angry chef promptly worked through the orders and ensured all food was served quickly. The man-slave…pottered around…ate the leftovers? and took directions well.
The best part of the experience….the £21 bill…for 2 beans and toast, a kids breakfast and 2 teas! 🤗
Overall, The WORST experience. Firstly, shame on you Little Chef, you’re a massive company, you should have some options for vegan/vegetarian diner’s in your establishments. Secondly, shame on you Talke crew. You put no effort into your job that day, you clearly didn’t want to be there and made it abundantly obvious. I don’t always like going to work, but when I make the decision to go (which sounds like I just decide when I go to work or not…and I don’t!) you should strive to do your best. You’re charging a lot of money for very basic greasy spoon food, you should at least try to make the people feel that they’re not being completely shafted. A smile…a bit of banter…it doesn’t take much to turn a really shit experience into a positive one.
Sadly, you failed on all counts!