Before the lovely Wonderful Town we were allowing ourselves a family treat by having dinner in Salford Quays. At least, that was the idea. With Daughter feeling uncharacteristically adventurous we went to Café Rouge, rather than for the usual pizza or to Lime, where we went last time.
An hour after arriving I had to ask if the main course was likely to come any time soon, because we actually had to be at the theatre (2 minutes across the square) fairly promptly. Waitress looked blank and said it would be ‘maximum ten minutes.’ I didn’t dare ask what kind of ten minutes. Was it from the time of ordering, or after the starter or from when she said it?
It had taken an age to even order in the first place. The starters weren’t impossibly late, but only one of them was right. The other had to be returned and exchanged, which took longer than the original wait. It was pieces of bread, with butter. The white bread was fine. The sourdough seemed recently, and hurriedly, defrosted. The rye was stale. Generous portion, but if I want stale bread I’ll age it myself at home. Far cheaper.
Two of the three mains (day specials, which I optimistically had imagined to be quicker than average) arrived ten minutes after the waitress’s statement. Daughter’s came without its mayonnaise, but I thought I could ask for it when my meal arrived. I did, except it took longer than even I expected, meaning two out of three of us still couldn’t begin eating.
With barely fifteen minutes left, my soufflé turned up and I proceeded to eat as fast as I could. To be fair, there was sufficiently little on my plate to delay me much. I gobbled, and dashed. (The theatre’s press tickets had to be picked up by me. I left our purchased – student’s – ticket with the Resident IT Consultant who had to remain at Café Rogue in order to pay.) Daughter followed me within minutes, too distressed to be able to finish her meal.
It seems that with only one guest remaining, the waitress realised we weren’t totally satisfied. The restaurant is an obvious place to go before a show. We can’t have been the only guests there hoping to make it to the Lowry by half past seven.
Without the bread, I’d have been hungry the whole evening. The day specials are minute, considering the price. And I ended up leaving most of my drink, feeling too rushed to finish it.
No real harm was done, obviously. Apart from the large bill for what was a poor meal. Needless to say, we won’t be returning to Café Rogue. The thing is, we might not return to eat out anywhere else much, either. Money is tight for many, and infrequent meals out need to be at least a little successful. Being able to hold a conversation would have been a bonus. The music was well past any acceptable volume, as witnessed by the couple who exited along with me. The man exclaimed with pure happiness at having escaped the noise.
We should have gone to Pizza Express. It’s not exciting (nor was this…) but you know what you get.