We were delighted to be invited to a tasting session at the newly refurbished Marsh Harrier in Norwich. We were promised an evening of samples, glass of prosecco and entertainment….
Where do I start…. upon entering the restaurant we entered what would seem to be a very busy bar area with one lady serving and the telephone ringing continuously. Once the member of staff came to serve us we told her we were there for the tasting evening, she pointed in the direction to the right of the bar and said ‘Just through there.’
We found a table near the fire (unfortunately the table was dirty with crumbs and sticky drinks marks and 2 tissues were left on the window sill) not a great first impression. We sat and waited…. we could see the empty prosecco glasses on the bar. We offered two ladies a seat with us as there were not enough seats or tables for all the guests. After about 15 minutes a lady came out with a plate of prawn cocktail style starters. She placed them on a table with a few plates… some shots of wine/ale followed placed on a table the other side of the room. We were not asked our names or ticked off any list at any point in the evening.
There was no explanation as to how the evening was going to take place, no feedback forms or menus. There was no regard for allergies or dietary requirements. We were not given any information regarding what food was going to be served or how many plates would be brought out to share.
My mum asked for some serviettes and some salt and pepper and we helped ourselves to cutlery off the side near the bar. When querying where to get our glass of prosecco we were told it was on the bar… this was a free for all and there were not enough glasses for all the guests.
What we ate and the fellow tasters on our table thought of the food :
Prawn cocktail – Salty and tasteless.
Pate – Delicious, thoroughly enjoyed.
Dough sticks – Sauce was lovely, however the sticks were greasy.
Venison sausage – Elastic/string was still attached to sausage!! These were served cold therefore could not be enjoyed.
Burger – A small piece of burger which was congealed as were served cold (mine was so cold had layer of ice) on a piece of roll and a slice of tomato… when a man queried why they were cold the lady said ‘they are cold because we are serving food in bulk’. Not how you would (hopefully) receive your meal in the restaurant. These we feel would have been enjoyed if hot and some sauce/cheese added.
Fish and chips – Chips (3) were tasty once we added some salt. The fish was tasteless and greasy.
Pizza – We enjoyed the pizza, vegetarian, meat and spicy (wasn’t very spicy) all 3 were tasty and devoured. These were the only plates of food which were all eaten.
Melba Mess – This was delicious, meringue was crumbly and enjoyed, unfortunately there were not enough of these for everyone to try some.
Milkshake cheesecake – Very crumbly as served from a tray without any plates therefore eaten off our hands. However this was the best dish of the evening, we would purchase this dessert if served on a plate with some cutlery.
Chocolate orange dessert – This was tasty and the orange flavour was a good balance, served with a piece of strawberry this was nicely presented and tasty.
We ended up serving food to one another as there were no available staff around to check back how the food was/ bring food round.
Unfortunately we were given no opportunity to express our dissatisfaction of the evening, many had left before the evening ended due to lack of organisation of the event.
One lady was serving the whole area and didn’t seem take on the polite criticism that we spoke to her about. We explained we had no idea what was happening or the format of the evening she smiled and said she would get us some food over to our end of the room.
We were told that there would be entertainment… no such entertainment occurred.
Unfortunately many left disgruntled and we were certainly disappointed. We had hoped for a lovely evening out enjoying good food and in a lovely refurbished restaurant.
The food and service was abysmal however we cannot fault the decor. It was beautiful and looked very welcoming, the fire is lovely to add to the ambience. However there was no background music and due to the lack of entertainment, warm food and hospitality we feel this is not somewhere we could recommend.
Upon checking the facebook page it also seems that comments from tasters this evening commenting about the evening have also been deleted.
We do hope the restaurant improves its service and any future tasting nights can be planned efficiently to enable customers to enjoy the menu as it would be served to paying customers.
** We were offered free tickets to the tasting event & did not receive any payment for this blog post. The above opinions are my own and those that we were seated with at the event **