Newest Review: ... week day, if the car park was full up then it could be a problem trying to park near the restaurant. The car park is flat and there... more
Toby, or not Toby - this is a carvery?
Member Name: proxam
Date: 09/08/11, updated on 14/07/13 (295 review reads)
Advantages: Shh, I'm thinking
Whilst on a short break to Washington...not the DC one, but the original near Sunderland, we were staying at the Holiday Inn and thought it convenient that there was a Toby Carvery just a few hundred metres away where, after a long...make that very l o n g day shopping at the Metro Centre, we could just check into the hotel, have a quick freshen up, and toddle off to the Toby for a bite to eat and a bucket of beer.
So we did.
On arriving at 6.55 we were informed that we were too late for the fiver special deals which ended at 7. We were then told that there was a 20 minute wait for a table. Oh well, things could only get better.
Striding purposefully towards the bar, drooling with anticipation at the thought of a foaming mug of the local ale, I searched the fonts in vain for anything 'real'. Unpetting my lip, I ordered a pint of John Smith smooth - not my first choice normally, but better than anything else on offer. At least it could't get worse.
On my third pint forty-five minutes later, I was seriously contemplating telling the staff exactly where to serve their carvery and head for the chippy when we were summoned to a table. " At least", I mused rather naively to mrs p, "the grub must be good if they're this busy, and it surely can't go downhill from here."
Our server quickly appeared and asked if we'd seen the menu. Considering we'd had enough time to set up a printing business and run off a few thousand copies ourselves, I assured her we had.
Ah, the menu.
You can check online for the exact details of the menu...but I wouldn't bother as the online version doesn't bear much resemblance to reality.
Basically, there are starters.
From the carvery: ham, beef or turkey with all the trimmings.
A salad dish, a fish dish, a veggie dish, roast fillet of beef and paella.
I asked about the fish dish...like this: " What's the fish dish?"
"Um," replied our server "It's sole...or tuna...um, it's definitely got fins."
"Hmmm," says I, "Is the paella cooked to order?"
Apparently, it wasn't. You just help yourself to a portion at the carvery.
Having decided on the beef carvery for mrs p and the paella para mi, our server told us to help ourselves. The term server seemed a bit of a misnomer here.
The food on display certainly looked good and plates suitably filled we returned to our table.
This is when things took a turn for the worse.
Some of the beef was ok, but a lot was rather tough. The roast potatoes were tasty enough, but they were on the cool side although warmer than the veggies. All in all, the carvery meal, had it been hot, would have been, not exactly delicious, but bland.
As for the paella...oh dear.
True, the dish consisted of yellow rice, spicy sausage, chicken, prawns and veg, but that's where the similarity ended. Long grain rice? That's a new one. Prawns that were the tiniest shrimps I've ever struggled to taste; chicken that made McD's nuggets seem like corn-fed, free-range guinea fowl; and as for the chorizo...what chorizo?
A few peas and peppers completed the dish. I couldn't taste garlic and I doubt very much if saffron was used - more like E102, and the oil used was less virgin olive oil and more slutty corn oil.
We ate what we could, slurped the last of our drinks, paid our bill (sans tip) and skedaddled out of there pronto. Looking around, I got the impression that we were far from alone in our disappointment with the food.
To be fair, it's not an expensive meal but at £7.95 for a main course, that's still about £8 more than it's worth.
I can only assume that because there are 4-5 hotels in the close vicinty, that it's hotel guests who make up the majority of the clientele here - the poor schmucks not knowing any better. With poor service, long waiting times and food that's struggling to be edible, I can't see there being a long line of repeat customers.
Would I eat here again?
Well that depends on the weather...only if hell freezes over.
Summary: Going here for a steak would be a big mistake