Have you ever wandered into a restaurant because you were getting really hungry, were in a rush to be somewhere else, and the place had (lots) of empty tables?
Well, in this case, the best advice would be to keep looking.
2 colleagues and I had originally hoped to get into Chowki for a bite before a gig, however it was completely heaving and we didn’t stand a chance. After some furtive darting about Soho we settled on the Piccadilly.
Appearance-wise it seemed functional enough – a little tacky in that 70’s/80’s sort of way. The menu offered standard Italian fare, and the resulting food I could only describe as “the bare minimum to pass muster and be called acceptable”. My spaghetti carbonara was just on the claggy side of al dente, and the sauce was both alarmingly yellow, and not particularly pleasant – a sin covered only by the accompaniment of a predictably harsh house red.
Where the place *really* let itself down was the customer service – the bill arrived and declared that in addition to our meals and the service charge, there was also a cover charge of around £4.50pp. We argued that this wasn’t indicated anywhere on the menu or on signs around the restaurant, and the waiter argues with us that someone’s got to pay for the breadsticks, and “for him to scrape the crumbs off the table”.
We rationalised that so as not to be completely uncivilised we’d just cross out the service charge and be on our way. At this juncture the waiter chased us up the road and accused us (loudly) of not having paid our bill. We debated this point in a perfunctory manner & insisted that service charge is an optional item, and he looked as if he’d briefly considered the idea of strongarming the £4.10 that was being debated out of us before resigning himself to the fact that maybe it wasn’t worth roughing up 3 burly chaps in broad daylight.
His parting words as he turned to run back were: “Well, just don’t leave without paying next time”.
I can say with surety that it’s not an eventuality that’s likely to come up again.