Newest Review: ... Heston inspired dishes removed, which makes sense as the customers of Little Chef expect a cheap and tasty meal. The prices remain... more
Little Chef - Big Prices (but great food though!)
Member Name: mrpickles
Advantages: Great quality food, recently modernised restaurants are lovely to be in.
Disadvantages: Prices are too excessive, some restaurants are dated.
In the past year, I have visited about 5 Little Chefs and I have generally been very impressed with the food and service received. Most recently, I visited the Little Chef in Popham on the A303, which was the first restaurant to receive the Heston Blumenthal makeover in about 2009. It is still reasonably nice but standards have clearly slipped since Heston stopped monitoring the branch as the restaurant was not very clean and one of the hand driers in the toilets were not working.
The food however, is delicious and has dramatically improved in the last 5 years, the mushroom risotto which I ordered was one of the best I have ever had but the menu has clearly been slimmed down and many of the more expensive Heston inspired dishes removed, which makes sense as the customers of Little Chef expect a cheap and tasty meal. The prices remain extortionate, especially for drinks. A (small - no pot) cup of tea costs £2.10 which considering a cup of tea costs about 10p maximum to make is ridiculous. The mains are also a little expensive, my risotto for example was just over £7 and I felt the portion was too small to deserve this high pricing. All the staff at Popham were very friendly and helpful although my food did take about 30 minutes to come, which considering the restaurant was not overly busy, seemed too long.
Not every resturant is as nice as Popham though. The majority have not been fully updated in 20 years and only about 10 have been converted to the new Heston Blumenthal format which seems strange considering the converted restaurants are much more successful. In the last 10 years, many restaurants have been shut by a variety of owners dropping the number of sites from over 400 in 2001 to 80 today so they are are a rare sight on my journeys however the best locations have been kept. If it was better run, Little Chef could be so much more successful today although it has recently been announced that RCapital are selling the brand so the name may disappear for ever which would be a great shame as the brand has so much promise.
Overall, I would recommend Little Chef as the high quality of its food outweighs the excessive prices and questionable decor and really hope the brand survives and it is bought my somebody who really cares about Little Chef and makes it great again.
Summary: Great food outweighs high prices and dated restaurants.