“ 24 High St / Canterbury / Kent / CT1 2AY / Tel: 01227 767617. „
We usually go to Ask restaurant and we always thought the service and food was good but our yesterdays experience in Canterbury restaurant on the High Street was by far the worst experience ever. The waiter was very busy and rude. If we needed a menu or to order we had to go to the bar. We were told they were busy and we may have to wait 20 minutes, then they said it will be 30 minutes and even if we were happy with that they finally started saying they do not have what we wanted to order. They were really not interested in having more clients at that time as they said they were busy although only one table occupied in courtyard and few inside. We finally decided not to order and leave. On our way out we complained and the waiter told us ironically "see you soon"
Ask pizza restaurant is part of the chain that owns Zizzi and Prezzo and on the internet they are always offering out vouchers for mid week meals. That with the combined fact that with a chain you know what you are going to eat, means I often end up eating here.
Ask is located towards the bottom of Canterbury high street near the river. It is in a beautiful location. The front is on the high street, and the side to the river. There is also a lovely garden which you can sit in. The building is very old and beautifully decorated with modern art prints. The light is low and ambient, in the evenings the main light comes from plenty of scattered candles. The restaurant consists of main rooms and small off shoots for private meals and little groups.
The menu is mainly italian style full of pizza, pasta and salad. The greta thing about it being a chain is that you get consistantly good food, and if you ever didn't you would feel comfortable to complain. They have a high turnover of customer, which means that food is freshly cooked and ingredients are also fresh.
I would recommend ASK. The problem is there are a lot of Italian style restaurants in Canterbury and although ASK is very good, it doesnt stand out dazzling above the rest. Go there are you will love the decor and menu!
It's not often I do reviews for Restaurants. I find it quite hard to wax eloquently, or even just make things up about what is basically a method of emptying your wallet in return for serving you something you could probably manage yourself if you weren't too lazy to cook, or have been nagged into visiting just because your partner's friend went last month and said it was really good, and we never go out enough do we....
Ask - part of the same chain as Pizza Express - is basically a bit like Pizza Express. They sell fewer Pizzas and more Pasta - but you're really just paying for the same semi-authentic Italian food, complete with oversized pepper grinders, the same incomprehensible staff, overly pretentious menu descriptions from the M&S school of advertising, and the same annoying pressure that you should tip people for doing their job slowly.
The branch of Ask in Canterbury is located on the cobbled High Street, about 50 yards from Pizza Express (perhaps all the food is cooked in one underground kitchen and sent between the buildings...), and close to other restaurants and pubs in the town centre. The building exterior is what you'd call charming if you were really stuck, with suitable amounts of draped ivy on the old brickwork. Entrance is easier said than done - the door isn't very wide, there's a step up to the inside (really handy for prams and wheelchairs), and the narrow hallway that leads to either of the 3 small seating rooms is perpendicular to the entrance, which means that groups waiting to be seated are forced to block the passageway from the kitchen to the eating rooms and the front door. So - charming, as I said...
Upon manoeuvring the pram into the hallway we waited for a table and were told that there was one left. Having briefly looked into the eating areas (I'm assuming the building was formerly a residence with several reception rooms), it did indeed appear quite easy to only have one spare table, as the multitude of staff that I saw squeezing past the kitchen door only had a maximum of 16 tables to service.
We were directed to a table next to the roaring fire - which would have been nice save for the need to avoid cooking our baby in her pram, and the fact that it was hardly a cold evening, and the other diners in the room were similarly sweltering. I asked if we could wait for another table, but the waitress, to her credit, turned the fire down with the damper (cast iron grate that covers the coals to regulate oxygen consumption - so there).
After ordering our overpriced drinks which seem to come in ever shrinking bottle sizes we perused the menu. After translating a few of the items into actual English by removing the pretentious adjectives (pan-fried, pan-seared, jus, parcels and gratinee being just a few), we were about to order when the waitress appeared with what appeared to be some maths homework scribbled hastily on a small chalkboard using the wrong hand. This was in fact the specials board, which was rapidly read out in halting English to us. Having decided against the pot luck option, we stuck to our choices.
It was at this point that I gleefully handed over my half-price main course voucher, printed out from a link on the Martin Lewis website (clever money saving chap). It was one of those offers that a restaurant chain will print for one week in a local gazette or three to constitute a national advertising campaign for special offers.
Our food did eventually arrive - perhaps a waiter took it accidentally to the nearby Pizza Express instead - and was rather nice. My Ravioli parcels were obviously undercooked - I believe Al Dente now means the pasta has a passing acquantaince with the boiling water rather than a brief fling - but the fishy filling was good. My Wife's Chicken and Mushroom Risotto had larger and more frequent pieces of the latter than the former, but was equally tasty. We also had a starter which amounted to 8 small prawns each the size of a 50p piece - labelled rather amusingly as King Prawns (British people who haven't ventured to a Spanish or French fresh fish store are being deluded here), in a spicy sauce, and 3 small pieces of dry bruschetta, with just enough salad to make the plate look full. Why it needed to come in a dish that had been placed into the heart of the Sun for 5 minutes was beyond me - perhaps they hoped the 10 minutes we waited for it to approach edible temperature would push us to buy another round of drinks.
Obviously the final bill, by virtue of the 2 for 1 main course offer was less than it should have been, but I wouldn't have gone there without the voucher as I don't think paying £10 a course for fancy pub food is a particularly edifying way to pass an evening, even with my lovely wife as company! I managed to avoid the tipping game - this involves the waiter circling the total line on the bill and adding their name and a giant X to the bottom of the paper as if to reinforce the amount of work required to hand deliver 3 plates of food and 2 drinks to the right table within 30 minutes - by not handing over a debit/credit card to be very slowly charged whilst the waiter coughs when you get to the 'Tip (optional)' line on the terminal. Instead I left the cash on the bill plate on the table and chuckled to myself as we left at how quickly the waitress shot back to our table to check how much tip we'd left. (Funny how quickly they move at the end, rather than when you actually require them for something!).
Overall - I should be fair. The restaurant is in a nice location, is well staffed and cosy enough. The food is certainly good, and the menu range more than adequate, but just remember to print off one of those spiffy vouchers!
I visited Ask in Fleet and I found the service very good and the staff happy and helpful.
I ordered pasta in mushroom sauce and it looked delicious until I found a long sizzled hair in it, which put me off but I took the hair out and the food which was around the hair and ate the rest which was lovely and very filling. I am sure if I had complained they would have given me a new meal but I didnt want to wait as we were in a rush.
The food was delivered quickly and we were asked twice if everything was alright and did we need anymore drinks.
The visit was on a weekday evening so it was not very busy and everywhere was clean.
I had a voucher for buy one main course and get one free so it was a cheap meal out.
I would visit again, but it could work out pricey.
A couple of weeks ago, I went with my new fella to the cinema and then we drove to Canterbury for a meal. Not having clue where we wanted to go we wandered the high street (well, I tottered, with heels getting stuck in the cobbles) until we came across ASK.
The first ASK restaurant was opened in 1993 in Belsize Park, London. The owners opened the first restaurant together because they felt there was a gap in the market for quality pizza and pasta, and I guess they were right- since then over 180 restaurants have been opened across the UK (Pizza Express and Zizzi's are part of the same group).
This particular branch is next to a canal and alongside Little Italy restaurant (don't go there, my friend found a pebble in her food and when she complained they insisted she had put it there and still forced her to pay!). It is about three quarters of the way down the high street- the opposite end from the new shopping development (see bottom of page for address). The restaurant is fairly large, with a small entrance hall, and then two separate dining rooms with ample seating.
When we walked in there was only one other man eating alone, well it was 9ish on a Sunday night, the same night as the World Cup Final. We sat down and ordered drinks, a Coke and a sparkling water (driving is no fun at all!) and perused the menus. The waiter reeled off the specials, which I stared at him blankly throughout as I could barely understand what he said, in his sing-song Italian accent), I then in my typically loud and unsubtle fashion yelled at my companion, "did he just say HASH BROWN SOUP?!" He quite blatantly had not said this, but it sure sounded like it to me, and to the embarrassment of D I felt the need to point it out.
We both ordered from the menu in the end, I had Four Seasons pizza and he had some sort of meaty looking beauty and a mixed salad which we shared. Mine was delicious, like your usual Four Seasons it was split into four, with artichokes, pepperoni, ham and mushrooms, scattered with capers and big fat juicy olives. Yummy indeed- and gone in 60 seconds!
The meal was somewhat interrupted by barrages of Italians running around outside screeching about their victory over France, as we were right next to an open window. A group of tourists were seated too long after us in the other corner of the room, which made it quite hard to here in the large echoey room. So D and I are both hoping that they didn’t hear me yell, "God, how selfish to come to an Italian restaurant so late when they’ve just won the world cup and obviously want to go out and celebrate." I do have a tendency of saying the wrong thing in what I think is a quiet voice, and apparently isn’t! Oops. Still, I left without spaghetti in my hair so it appears they didn’t hear.
After the main course, D had ice cream and I opted for nothing for pud, as the pizza was plenty filling enough. In typical girly fashion, I still nicked some from him, despite claiming I was full. We took a while before getting the bill as we were chattering, and despite their obvious intentions of celebrating, we didn't feel pushed out by the staff. When D got the bill he took one look and said, "bloody hell, we’re coming here again." And when I snuck a peek at the bill (totally accidentally, of course) I saw the total amount: £24.70, which is pretty good for two (albeit soft) drinks, two large and lovely pizzas, a salad, and a dessert.
I would definitely go to this branch of ASK again, and would try other branches too. The food wasn't anything out of the ordinary, but it was tasty, and that's good enough for me. The service was quick and pretty good (apart from the incomprehensible specials sonnet). I didn't go to the loo while I was there so I can't comment on those. Disabled access is pretty good, as everything appeared to be ground floor level. I'm not sure about family-friendliness either, as it was quite late there were no children there.
Ask Pizza & Pasta Restaurant
24 High St,
Apologies from my title. It's pretty poor, but you're all used to that!