Quo Vadis/White Star Line group
Has anyone ever had a bad experience at this establishment, or any other Marco-Pierre White/White Star Line restaurant ?
If so, have you ever tried to get a complaint dealt with efficiently and courteously ?
I would be interested to hear, as I and a party of five suffered the most incompetent and unprofessional service you could possibly imagine some months ago at Quo Vadis in Londons Soho. We spent a great deal of money, behaved ourselves impeccably and were playing host to a visiting ambassador all of which somehow magnified the appalling experience.
I am not often moved to write letters to restaurants, but despite writing three polite letters to M-P W, his partner Jimmy Lahoud and the current manageress of the restaurant outlining our grievances, not one response was received.
I would urge anyone who has suffered a bad experience at a White Star Line restaurant to boycott the group, if in any doubt as to the merits of exchanging the considerable amount of money asked for average food and dubious service. The London-based restaurants include: LEscargot, Mirabelle, Parisien Chop House, Maison Novelli and Belvedere and of course, the miserable Quo Vadis.
Although I appear to be in somewhat of a minority regarding the food at QV - I actually enjoyed it, although I had been invited by clients and didn't actually pick up the tab so I can't comment on value for money. However, the evening was somewhat soured, not only by the service - which was amateurish to say the least - but by the fact that the staff had managed to add an extra bottle of wine on to the bill at GBP 200.00 which caused some embarrassment, especially as the waitress appeared to think that it was our fault for not drinking more.
Overall, I could not recomend QV on the grounds of service (?) alone, although the food was more than passable I have a sneaking suspicion that it was overpriced. I have no objections to paying for quality (and even less for someone else paying) but I feel that this is certainly a case of MPW attempting to cash in on his name.
The service at MPW restaurants other than The Oak Room is mediocre. Include Criterion on that list. Mirabelle sometimes has slightly better service. (I am not sure Novelli is technically supervised by MPW, even though Novelli is an MPW longtime friend/disciple who has been aided in countless ways by MPW. The service at Novelli is poor too.)
I have personally boycotted the MPW group based on (1) disappointment with the food and cellar, except at OR (there are much better places than OR, though, in London), and (2) disagreement with MPW's decision to relinquish his third Michelin star. (Three-star status is, in the words of Passard, a permanent ray of sunshine -- it is to be appreciated and nurtured, and not cast aside in favor of modes of operation deemed more lucrative.) (Yes, for those who are wondering if I am a foodie, I have certain foodie tendencies and consider myself a hybrid.)
I have also boycotted all Terrance Conran restaurants, incl. Orrery and Pont de la Tour. (For those interested in amazing views of the Thames, Neat offers a better view than Pont anyhow, and the gastronomic portion of the restaurant has an intensely flavored smoked foie gras dish.)
In my mind, MPW's most enduring contribution to super-yummy food in London will be the training Ramsay and Wareing received in his kitchens.
Many people think my constant barracking of MPW on this board is just me joking, but I am deadly serious when I say that this man/worm is the single worst thing to ever happen to restauranting in England.
His places are over priced, table turning shambles. They proffer fine dining but deliver pale versions of the same for people with more cash than sense.
The service in all of the ones I have tried ( which often being taken by well meaning friends and associates, is all of them ) is universally shabby and snotty. Complaints, however politely expressed are dismissed or, as in your case, ignored
I have no question about his ability to cook, he just stopped doing that about three years ago as he realised there were enough mug punters out there to keep him in clover for the rest of his life while he shopped around his celeb floppy fringed schtick.
In the end, I think it is only by word of mouth and posting on boards like this that this miserable excuse for a chain will be seen for what it is. Thinking that this is good eating is a sham, like going to the British section at Disney World and thinking that is the same as going to London.
The man is a sap and sucker and a ne'er do well.
re: Simon Majumdar
This is it, Marco Pierre White just does as he pleases. As far as a boycott is concerned, maybe it's better just not to be a mug and let White Star Line continue to fleece anyone fool enough to patronise their establishements. It is supposition but I would bet that there are several 'top' critics who are recipients of Marco Pierre White's famously fat envelopes. Certainly his protegee Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck models himself more and more on his beloved mentor.
re: Michael Lewis
My limited experience of MPW productions has similarly left me less than impressed. In part it is the dreadful and inflexible enforcement of table sittings (OK you can have a table until 8pm but be grateful; be gone; and dont expect to enjoy it...). In part it is individual instances of clumsiness (watching a vegetarian being offered three different salads, all with bacon...) but mostly it is the sense of being at the receiving end of a quasi-industrial conglomerate. To be fair, of better quality than simply being served a Sainsburys Gourmet Meal Kit in a restaurant, but not a million miles away in concept and vastly more in price.
So as I tread my Apian Way of culinary discovery, should the voice demand Quo Vadis ? I would have to reply: Not there, mate....