Its not often I feel compelled to write a restaurant review. I like to enjoy the meal without thinking about what Im going to write while Im eating and drinking. It has to be either a very good experience or an extremely bad one to make me even think about reviewing it afterwards. I once wrote about a very good meal I had from a competition win at Moshi Moshi at the Liverpool Street branch in London. and now Im about to tell you about a shockingly awful one I had a couple of weeks ago at Torts in Holborn.
I work in Holborn and as anyone who spends a lot of time there will tell you, its not exactly the centre of restaurant heaven. A colleague was about to go on maternity leave and so, I organised a lunch for her before she left. Everyone else agreed that they were bored of the same old places we always go to so on a whim, I booked a table at Torts for the next day as I had seen the sign outside offering an amazing sounding lunch deal for a main course and a glass of wine (or ½ pint of beer, or a soft drink). Holborn, being straddled between the City and the West End is a pretty pricey place so this looked like the bargain of the century. None of us had ever been there so we decided to give it a go.
So, the very next day we were on our way to the worst service I have ever had at a restaurant, anywhere in the world ever! The front of the restaurant is a bar with lots of TV screens showing sport. I had asked the day before not to be sat there, but they had forgotten so it took a bit of persuasion before they moved us to the room at the back of the restaurant. It meant a bit of extra work for the staff,you see, pushing two tables of 4 that were next to each other together, to make a table for 8. The room at the back was a lot nicer and actually looked like a classy city type establishment, pity everything went down hill from there onwards.
I had asked for a non-smoking table but on arrival we were told there werent any. We pointed at our very heavily pregnant colleague, but the waiter just sneered and said too bad Im afraid, weve got air conditioning that will have to do. Still, it was 1pm on a Friday now, so finding somewhere else would be a nightmare in the area, we all wanted a cheap deal and there was no one smoking on the next table so we decided to sit down anyway.
After asking 3 times and waiting 15 minutes (the restaurant had about 4 other tables occupied at this time) we finally got our menus with the special offer. To be fair there was a decent choice for one of these lunchtime deals. There was paella, veggie burger and chips, lamb kebabs, salmon and cous cous salad or risotto. We were allowed 2 menus between the 8 of us. When I asked if we could have some more I was told that wed just have to share!
So having passed the menu back and forth and made our meal decisions, we were ready to order. We waited for our waiter who eventually took our order for drinks and for some unfathomable reason wouldnt take our food order at the same time. I asked for fresh orange juice and asked him if it was freshly squeezed, not packet stuff. He was clearly not listening and very bored with our presence and just replied yeah yeah of course. When it arrived it was the horrible artificial pure stuff for £2.50!
Still waiting to give our food orders ten minutes after getting our drinks, we spoke to our waiter who snapped that he was going on his break and that someone else would see to us. Instead of this cheerful chappy we then had the joy of dealing with an equally sour Eastern European waitress. She took our orders with a glower and then we waited about half an hour for the meal to arrive with our meal deal drinks.
Some of the others had meals that did actually look like something I could just about have managed to swallow had I been imprisoned in a desert with only sand and scorpion legs to eat for the past six months. My meal however, the paella was something the average starving goat would have rejected. The chicken pieces were so overcooked they resembled beach pebbles; the rice was so soggy it was almost certainly the same grains used in the risotto and even if I had been able to eat it, the portion would have been half the size I would expect for a starter!
Not wanting to prolong this cheerless experience any longer we ordered the bill as soon as we could. I embarrassed my more stereotypically British colleagues by making a fuss and refusing to pay the 12.5% service charge, you must be kidding! We scuttled out of the place as quickly as we could and popped to a nearby bar to get a glass of wine to help us get over the stress of the whole lunch event! Never ever, in a million years would I recommend this restaurant! Even if the food had been half decent and plentiful, the service was so bad we were almost convinced that we were being filmed for some sort of television show joke or something! Theres a Wetherspoons on the other side of the road to this restaurant and if youre ever in that area on High Holborn, I thoroughly recommend that you go there instead. Not only is it cheaper, it's also better quality, better ambience and better service. If that doesnt tell you how bad Torts is, I dont know what will!