Saturday, 17 August 2013

Waitrose Café, Banstead – I'd rather go to Pistachios in the Park...

Don't get me wrong, I've always liked Waitrose, the quality of the food is unrivalled – although some say M&S is better (and I disagree) – but when it comes to in-store catering, perhaps they should leave it to the experts. Not that in-store catering ever really shines and today proved to be no exception.

Wandering, or rather driving, aimlessly just for a bit of fresh air, I arrived, with my wife and daughter, in Banstead, Surrey. The plan was to take a walk and then go home, but, as we passed Waitrose, we spotted a Waitrose Café, an operation mentioned before on this blog, but never experienced first hand.

This shot of Pistachios on the Park courtesy of Families Online
I wasn't impressed, especially after my recent trip to the USA where I experienced the delights of Panera Bread.

Why wasn't Banstead's Waitrose Café my cup of tea? The answer is lengthy, but simple: it was disorganised, untidy, messy and off-kilter and there were many different reasons. First, the food display looked decidedly tired. Stocks hadn't been replenished and the whole thing had the look of a half nibbled through party buffet. Then there was the person behind the counter who was simply slow and unsure of herself. There was no urgency in her delivery. Regular-sized paper cups had run out, so I decided to have a small tea, like my wife and daughter, but then the regular cups turned up. My daughter had wanted a hot chocolate, but they'd run out of the necessary ingredients.

Eventually we sorted out our order: two small teas and one regular tea plus three iced cinnamon swirls, which were fantastic and cost just £1.19 each – the whole bill was just over £6.50.

What made the experience unpleasant was the mess on the floor surrounding our chosen table: broken gingerbread men and all sorts of rubbish was in dire need of being swept up, but nobody had bothered. It was like finding a table amongst the rubble of a toddler's birthday party in a local authority leisure centre. This sort of thing matters to me and while the cinnamon swirls were great (they were the only thing on display that looked anywhere near inviting) and the tea was fine, the fact that we had to sit in what amounted to a pile of rubbish and food debris – and I had to clear the table myself before we sat down – meant that next time I visit Banstead I'll be heading for the nifty-looking caff in the park, imaginatively named Pistachios in the Park.

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