Newest Review: ... it's surprising how much the standards of service, quality of food and particularly cleanliness have declined. Service takes about 15 min... more
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Member Name: velissaria
Advantages: the mint and pea soup; the company's standards regarding fairtrade products
Disadvantages: dirty, depressing, scruffy
Sainsbury's Café is a cafe-restaurant located inside Sainsbury's supermarkets. We had never visited the cafe before, but relatives from the North were praising it, so last week we decided to give it a go. *This review applies to our local Sainsbury's Café in Basingstoke*.
Sainsbury's Cafés and Bars are fully owned and operated by Sainsbury's so the company philosophy and qualities have been applied to them as well. They are supposed to be able to provide a great place to relax and have a wide selection of "great tasting food and drinks" available throughout the day. Their standards sound great, because they claim to use Fairtrade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified freshly ground coffee, Fairtrade hot chocolate, tea, sugar and a range of bakery items, free-range eggs and British meat, except for bacon. Cod is freshly hand-battered and fried to order (also available as a takeaway option), the paninis are stone-baked, and the drinks are well known brands. All kids' meals have been developed for children aged 4 to 8 years of age, contain no artificial colours or flavourings, and come with a complimentary piece of fruit. You can also use your Nectar card and earn nectar points. For more details released by the company have a look here: http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shoppingandservices/ca fe/cafe.htm
If the cafe we visited "reflects the company's quality", that's very scary! The cafe in our branch is nothing like the photo above. It was dark, grey and mingy. It was not well lit, the surfaces were dirty and we had to clean our own table, which was full of dirt, dishes, crumbles, sauces etc. There was a girl responsible for the cleaning, but she spent most of her time in the kitchen. This is not comforting at all and it seems they are seriously understaffed. Mind you, it was an ordinary day and not the weekend, so this lack of ability by the staff to provide for the customers was appalling. The ceilings were grey and looked as if they were never re-painted to fresh them up, the carpet was ancient, dark and absolutely dirty, the dark red wooden furniture was equally dirty and should have been polished or replaced a long time ago. There is no way I'd let my child sit and eat in that environment.
They offer two soups of the day that you must serve yourself. We opted for the mint and pea soup, which was indeed very tasty, thick and creamy and you could see the fresh herb in it. They also had a satisfactory variety of hot coffees: filter, decaf, latte, cappuccino, mocha and espresso. I opted for mocha, but it was kind of watery; I have tasted better mochas elsewhere. We did not try the baker's products, sweets and fruits. When it comes down to main meals the choices are limited, but to be honest we did not expect something different from a basic supermarket cafe. They serve breakfast, but only in the morning. The menu also has whole tail scampi, basic hamburgers, fish and chips, and beef 'n' ale pie.
We ordered the pie, with chips and peas. I honestly say that it was the worst pie I have ever tried. It was reheated and absolutely dry, both the crust and inside. There was no liquid; the meat was totally dried out. The chips were fine, but the peas were over-boiled.
We paid about £18 for our food and coffees but it was terribly poor value for money.
The 1 star goes to the mint and pea soup and the company's standards regarding fairtrade and organic products. But we are not going back there!
Summary: Awful food, dirty place: avoid the Basingstoke branch