This took place in a Little Chef somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. My partner and I were on the final leg of the long slog from Birmingham to Caithness, with his elderly grandmother in tow, and stopped for lunch there. The three of us ordered our meals together- two jacket potatoes and a plate of pancakes. Our drinks and the pancakes came within 15 minutes- a little slow considering the amount of people in there, and the number of staff, but just about passable.
However, twenty minutes after that the potatoes still had not turned up. My partner had long since eaten his pancakes, and finished his drink. An enquiry at the counter as to the whereabouts of our food and why they had brought out one dish so early on brought both the revelation that 'the tatties were huge, and would take a while to cook' (did you not think to inform us of that, rather than watch us twiddle our thumbs for half an hour?) and the stunningly illogical reply 'But they were pancakes!'
Snce when did pancakes hold a special status as 'foodstuffs that do not corrsespond to normal serving habits?' If they had served them after the main courses it might have made more sense (despite it being made clear to the waiter that the pancakes were for one member of the group, who wanted something sweet for lunch), but alas, sense (and service) were in short supply in this particular restaurant.
Whilst we waited we were entertained both by the noisy children by whom we had been seated (despite there being plenty of other tables), and the rustle of empty salt packets beneath our feet (the table and its surrounding area had no been cleaned before we sat down).
The jackets arived 45mins after they were first ordered, and were, quite frankly, revolting- hard in the middle, burnt on the outside, and with a limited amount of dilute and insipid topping. Were it not for the fact that we were running late (and starving) I would have sent them back. I had to ask for a free drink (just tea, nothing special) for my partner (who would otherwise have had to sit there twiddling his thumbs whilst we ate), and it appeared on the bill, and had to be removed again.
We do the run up to Scotland a few times a year, and have never had problems with this place before, but we shall not be using it again. The service was appalling, the wait staff were unhelpful and incapable of doing their job, and the place was not clean. For those of you who may be wondering, no, we did not tip.
To add icing to the cake, my step-father did the same trip recently, and decided to stop there for breakfast on his way back down. He arrived at 7am, and went to the door to check the opening times, which were not displayed. The lights were still off, but a solitary figure could be seen within. As he considered whether to wait or carry on to Aviemore, a window was flung open by his head, and a voice cried; 'can't you see we're closed until 8?'
Unsurprisingly, he drove the twenty minutes to AViemore. In future, we shall do the same.