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
Convenience and price all rolled into one, and they come out on top
Member Name: abbadabbado
Advantages: cheap, quick
Disadvantages: can't substitute items
In this economic climate, a good offer on eating out proves too much for me to resist. Sainsbury's café have been offering two main meals for the bargain price of £6 over the summer months, and I have been visiting regularly lately to gain full advantage of the offer.
In the past we have frequented the café when going shopping and having a late breakfast or early lunch. I don't think there has ever been a time where I have been disappointed with the service or the food. Obviously there have been a few niggles along the way, but no where is perfect.
Being a café, don't expect gourmet meals for cheap prices, but what you can expect is a reasonably priced meal with the bonus of convenience near the shop.
** Layout **
All the different stores I have visited have had the same layout to their café's. They are all self service unless you are ordering hot meals, in which case they will be brought out to you. The general idea is to get a tray and join the queue. You will pass the chiller section, cakes, cold drinks all to help yourself, pausing to order a hot drink, and to pay at the till.
Follow through to grab your cutlery and condiments before finding a table.
** Choice **
You can order a variety of hot meals through the café. There isn't a huge choice but then it isn't there to be a food outlet, it's a subsidiary of the supermarket, designed to make your shopping more convenient, and of course to fleece those extra pennies from you.
Food comes in the form of lasagne, fish and chips, fried breakfast, salads, sandwiches, cakes and children's meals.
Over my visits, I have found that the sandwiches they sell in the café are the same ones they will sell you in the kiosk area of the supermarket. Usually a small increase in the price due to the fact you are parking your posterior on one of their seats, but the same none the less.
The children's meals come in handy little boxes which contain sandwich, fruit, yoghurt, snack bag and a drink. We have bought these in the past and then realised my daughter just wont eat what they provide so have given up and let her share our meals. They are a good balanced lunch though, with plenty to feed a child.
Cakes never look that appetising to me for some reason. I'm not sure if it's the way they are presented on an open viewing area, that screams at me sticky fingers and germs floating about, but only in a few of the café's that I have visited have the cakes been hidden away from fresh air. This stops me ever buying a cake.
The biscuits however are all individually wrapped and are much more appealing. As are the mini tubs of Ben and Jerry's ice cream that I have seen at some of the outlets.
Drinks come in the form of coffee, latte, cappuccino etc, as well as tea, and a variety of soft drinks which include fruit shoot, and the normal fizzy alternatives.
So you see there is plenty of choice whether you are going for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.
** Service **
I haven't always been met with a smile during my visit to the cafés. The staff can look very over worked when it's busy, and it does tend to get busy around lunch time, especially for hot food so you may have to expect a wait.
Occasionally when ordering food I like to change certain items such as baked beans for mushrooms on a cooked breakfast. Despite serving both on different dishes, there is never any lee way for change which is a shame. You always have to order as an extra and pay more which I always decline, and just stick with what I have. This aspect of the café could do with some tweaking. I appreciate the menu is basic, but in terms of a friend breakfast, extra foods wouldn't cause too much trouble to the cooking staff surely.
** Price **
Being a café anyway, there is decent value to the food and drink you can order. In terms of drinks, I have found that the prices are very average to other cafes.
Main meals start from £3.99 which offers good value to start with, but to take advantage of the two for £6 offer makes it even better value.
An average meal is around the £4.99 mark, and for this money your plate will be piled. I always find a meal will fill me up for hours which is a good sign of money well spent.
The children's meal is around the £2 mark, and for what you get I think it's a decent alternative to items such as a happy meal from MacDonald's.
** Quality **
I firmly believe anywhere you go can be hit and miss on the quality. I have always had good experiences, and knowing I have paid £5 for a meal, I know it's not going to be cooked from scratch out in a kitchen by a chef. I know enough that all meals are pre done and heated when needed. I also know the chips will come from the fryer.
All this is down to speed and price, and anyone who thinks differently doesn't live in the real world.
For the money I pay, the food has always been a decent quality and I have rarely had anything to complain about. Once I have had to send a fried breakfast back as the white of the egg was runny. This wouldn't have bothered some people but it made me feel sick. The egg was replaced and I happily ate my meal.
I could eat at any restaurant and get a burnt bit of garlic bread one day, and get it perfect the next. Sainsbury's café is no different.
** Cleanliness **
Being self service, the tables are cleaned by staff as customers vacate. Tables are also cleared so in busy times you may have a wait for a clean table. I have watched staff spray and wipe, the same as I have seen in many other places.
Out of personal choice I ALWAYS clean the high chair tray again myself before letting my daughter eat from it. This is just me, but I have never seen a member of staff clean them, which isn't to say they don't of course.
If I come across a dirty table, then I will choose another, or ask a member of staff to clean it for me depending on which option is quicker for me at the time.
Overall however I don't have a problem with the cleanliness. A dirty knife gets given back to a member of staff and I choose another.
** Overall **
I like eating in Sainsbury's café and I will always say yes given the choice if we're passing.
Toilets are always provided and kept to the supermarket standard, and I know I can sit there with my toddler having a quick coffee, or a late breakfast, knowing that she can eat from my meal in her own bowl without anyone moaning at me for not buying her her own meal etc.
The atmosphere is always lively in the café's and there is generally a lot of noise do perhaps don't go if you want quiet. But for me a busy environment tells me that Sainsbury's are doing something right and they should carry on.
Summary: a great place to visit when you need a quick feed