Thursday, November 22, 2007

Things I Hate

Sat 17 Nov 2007

I am quite an organised person. I like to know what's going on when. So it's not going to be a surprise when I say I loathe restaurants that don't take reservations.

When some friends visiting from London suggested Salvo's I was keen - it's close to home and the meals I've had at the Salumeria have been excellent. I was less thrilled when I visited the reservations page on the website:

Salvo's operate on a first come - first served basis and we have done so since we first opened our doors. We believe that is the fairest way for people to enjoy Salvo's. We always endeavour to get you seated as quickly as we can to accommodate you in our restaurant.

OK, aside from the fact it should be 'operates', I'm not sure how such a non-policy is fair and the fact that they're endeavouring to seat you quickly might suggest they're aiming for a high table turnover. Anyway, I swallowed my reservations and we hoped to aim for a relatively early start.

Of course, after getting ready and having drinks at home, it wasn't particularly early and we ended up at the restaurant around 7pm. "Could we have a table for 4?". "Of course", says the front of house. In an hour and a half's time. The great irony was that our name would be taken and we could wait at the bar or leave and return at the allotted time. How this isn't a reservation is beyond me.

Worst fears realised, we headed into town in search of a meal. Yes, Leeds, on a Saturday night in the run up to Christmas. Even the friends from London were shocked at how busy it was. We ended up dining at Felicini (we did have to wait but we were able to head to the Radisson for cocktails). This is fast turning into an excellent quick meal restaurant. The service is great, it's cheap and the food is more than OK, even if it's not the most exciting menu you'll ever see. And, if you're organised, it takes real reservations!

We started off choosing wine at the bar, which caused a fair bit of debate. The waitress offered us a taste of one wine under consideration - without any prompting. Our meal ended up consisting of a platter of antipasti, dough balls and main courses (all pasta - I really must go back and try their pizza). We also indulged in some mid-meal bread and olives as, apparently, there had been some confusion in the kitchen about our order. This was picked up before we noticed, and in addition to the nibbles we were also offered an additional bottle of wine! We staggered out, bellies laden, having spent just £45 per couple.

You'll notice that the single aspect of Felicini that has struck me on both visits has been the quality of the service. If somewhere that is essentially cheap and cheerful (and, given its location, probably has to deal with some reasonably demanding clientele) can provide such good service, it's beyond me why so many other restaurants can't.

Oh, and did I mention you can make a reservation?

1. Salvo's, 115 Otley Rd, Leeds, LS6 3PX, phone: 0113 275 5017
2. The Radisson, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 8TL, phone:
0113 236 6000
3. Felicini, The Cube, Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 6HX, phone: 0113 200 1310

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