Thomas blogged this too so this is probably overkill but as he said himself, our experience was bad enough for La Tasca in Silverburn to merit 2 bad reviews in the one night!
Poor Lots is here while Marcel climbs mountains, canoes, sleeps in a dorm with 5-10 of his mates and generally is probably having the best week of his life so far at Primary 7 school camp.
Thomas and I weighed up our current financial catastrophe and decided we should take Lots out for a meal. After all £4 isn't bad on a work night to make her feel special, not if it's a one-off.
We had considered Frankie and Benny's at Silverburn because it is just perfect for families. Add to this the fact that Lots absolutely loves it there... but we thought we'd try something new and give her a new experience. We certainly achieved that .
We arrived just before 6pm and ordered drinks. Adults were only allowed to order four tapas each despite the 'All you can eat' banners everywhere. It seemed you had to earn your right to a second batch by finishing the first one! Of course this then doubles your waiting time as you have to order twice. We were soon to find out their slogan was actually: Four tapas for a tenner... dare to order a second batch and we'll make sure you come close to dying of old age before you receive it!
The kids' menu intimated that kids were to be given 2 tapas each, we assumed half an adult portion, but theirs came with dessert so it was fine. It also said it was suitable for kids under 10. I guess they either don't have many kids visit or my kids have some sort of eating disorder because when Lots's portion arrived, it contained (I am not exaggerating here for effect!) one single meatball in one soup spoonful of tomato sauce as one of her tapas! Not ideal for a 9 year old! Even Bits at 14 months and Pudge at 3 and a half wanted more than the La Tasca portions so how these were meant to satisfy up to 10 years old is beyond me. (The meatball, by the way, was the size of an IKEA meatball. To put this in perspective if you don't have kids - at IKEA Annabits would typically eat 3 meatballs, Pudge about 7, Lots around 12, and Thomas 15). The bowl La Tasca used for the kids' portions was about a quarter of the size of the adult tapas bowls, therefore making the kids' portions one eighth the size of the adult ones rather than the expected half! My kids eat as much as me most nights so even that would have been bad!
Charlotte's second bowl contained one small (IKEA sized) potato diced into maybe seven 1cm cubes. Bits had 1 soup-spoonful of paella as her first one and a meatball as her second one and Pudge excelled with a sliver of tortilla on one plate and another with two Spanish chicken pieces, each 75% of the meatball size.
Now if you are going to give kids ridiculously small portions you should have quick service, because you want them out before they start wailing and misbehaving. Fortunately after their 100 calorie dinners none of mine had the energy to misbehave while we waited over and hour for 3 extra tapas after finishing our first round.
We were served at 8 minutes past 8 having resolved to walk out if nothing was forthcoming by 10 past! The table behind us had arrived at 7 on the nose and were also served at 8-08, of course they were in for a long night, having only ordered 2 each in their initial round so as not to clutter up the table (there were 7 of them) and of course they were now past the 8pm cut off for all you can eat for a tenner and were trying to ascertain from one of only 3 waiting staff covering the whole (large) restaurant, if they could actually get a second round at all, but of course given she didn't speak English, other than to write down people's orders, they weren't getting very far.
Now anyone who knows me knows I am not a bit maker of scenes, nor a big complainer, but as I handed over my card to pay, the same waitress asked how much I should put through on the card! Could this person seriously be looking for a tip!?! The amount on the bill, I retorted. Why, was there something wrong with your food? she adventured!!!! No, actually the food was ok, well mine was - the kids' food probably looked ok, had I had a microscope on me to find it on the plate but to take 2 hours and 20 minutes to feed my kids 3 meatballs is an experience I won't be tipping or paying for again. I imagine the other table is probably still waiting on its next round of tapas as I write!