As you’ll see the old Reviews Blog has been a bit dry of late, mainly due to time (I’ve been a busy boy) and because the majority of my restaurant visits over the past year have been via the Mystery Dining Company I work for part time, so considered it a conflict of interests to survey and then blog them.
But this time round you get the my full attention about The Lobster Room, in Reading, Berkshire in Blog form because A) I’ve received tweets and pings asking about my experience following my FourSquare check-in and B) my experience was poor so I’m letting others know…
I’d seen the venue under the banner ‘The Lobster Room’ advertised, it’s in a location opposite Forbury Gardens in Reading, just out of town. The building has had a fair turn over of dining experiences, but due to the location I don’t think it attracts that much passing trade.
My other half is an avid Groupon user and decided to treat us to a Fishy Dining experience at the Lobster Room because we both enjoy seafood and I’m always up for a night off cooking and a good meal out.
We had a table booked for 8pm on a Friday (10th Jan 2014) and arrived on time. The entrance foyer contained just a empty sandwich fridge & counter and we had to walk down stairs to get to the restaurant, which should seat approximately 50-80 diners, but for a Friday evening it was less than a third full, with only a handful of tables occupied.
We were seated and given menus and our waiter (a gentleman in his 30’s, olive skin complexion, who spoke broken English) who then wandered off and we waited for about 10mins for him to return and we placed our drinks and meal order together – we were not offered any table water. While ordering, I made a specific request that the Lobster Main course was NOT served with Mixed Peppers or garnished with chilli / paprika as my other half has an allergy… and I spoke very slowly and repeated several times “no red, yellow or green pepper, no chilli and no paprika – nothing that is a bell pepper” he nodded and confirmed. Yet despite my request the Half Lobster was served on a bed of Red & Yellow Peppers… meh. So to save time (and avoid ruining the Lobster) we begrudgingly lifted the Lobster off the plate and the waiter took the Peppers away and returned with a handful of thyme seasoned boiled / part roasted potatoes. Anyway I’m jumping ahead of myself… back to the Starters.
The Service was slow and for Starter we had Scallops in Pancetta and Calamari . The Scallops were nice, well cooked & moist but the sweet seasoning / dressing was slightly over-powering, but it was a tasty starter and well presented. The Calamari however wasn’t good as the batter wasn’t crisp, it was soggy, the Calamari was a little chewy and it was served on a white plate with a slice of lemon – some mayo, seafood or tartar would have been nice.
We waited for atleast 5 minutes to have our starter plates collected. There were two waiting staff on and despite it being rather empty it just all seemed so slow. The waiter took our plates and didn’t ask how the food was, or engage us in any way it all, it all seemed a lazy laboured job.
We then waited for another 15mins or so for the mains to arrive. I’d ordered the Crab Tagliatelle in addition our other main of Half Lobster. As mentioned above, the Lobster didn’t arrive as requested but aside from the momentous cock-up with the Peppers, the Lobster was nice, a good size, well cooked & seasoned. The Crab Tagliatelle however was served on a plate with the Crab Shell and legs, but I’m not sure if this was to try and convince me that the plate contained any actual crab, because it seemed as though I’d been given the shell and not the meat… the small bundled pile of undercooked tagliatelle didn’t seem like fresh pasta and digging through the pasta with tomato sauce, there were no pieces of crab meat to be seen, so either it’d been put through a blender and whizzed so finely that it was unrecognisable or it simply wasn’t there. It didn’t particularly taste of crab and the seasoned tomato sauce was the prominent flavour.
After eating what I could manage of the poor attempt at a main course and trying to extract what little Crab meat I could from the bits of crab carcass left on my plate, we waited once again for the waiter to return to collect our plates and again there was no attempt to ask how the meal was, he simply picked up the plates and walked off. He did return a few mins later with a dessert menu but at that point I was happy enough with a coffee at home so asked for the bill, paid for our drinks and the supplement for the Lobster, which wasn’t covered in the Groupon offer and left.
Overall, a very disappointing experience and I’m very glad we didn’t pay full price. Some of the food was nice, but then other parts were really bad. The service was slow, un-engaging and they couldn’t understand or adhere to a basic dietary requirement, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend The Lobster Room as venue to enjoy good seafood in Reading, Berkshire.
And I do feel a little guilty, as a friend who saw my FourSquare check-in asked how it was… I said ‘poor’ before remembering she’d brought her husband Groupon vouchers for the same place for his Birthday… Opps.