Friday 4 September 2015

Beefeater Emersons Green Review - Eating Out With a Five Year Old on a Busy Saturday Night

We recently got the chance to review Beefeater Emersons Green. It completely surpassed my expectations in terms of location, restaurant, seating, service, setting and food. I didn't expect to be blown away but I was. If fact all 3 of us were.
Beefeater Emersons Green
On arrival
On departure
As with several of these type of restaurants it was attached to a Premier Inn. The only time you notice that is whilst you're parking, or if you are there as a guest for breakfast. Premier Inn is our hotel of choice, so I am quite familiar with the deal. In fact we stayed in Birmingham Premier Inn recently so as to go to Birmingham Sea Life and Thomas Land and that had a Beefeater too. That time though, we had breakfast not dinner and actually it was just as nice as this one, although it did have an even better outdoor seating area, which with the current weather we didn't miss.

Upon arrival
We were immediately warmly greeted by the Manager himself who was manning the bookings desk, and did for the whole evening that we were there. He took us towards the stairs, which I was glad of as I expected it to be less crowded up there. It was, but to be honest with it being Bank Holiday weekend (the last of the year) and a Saturday, it was busy throughout and remained so till we left (we were there well over 3 hours). I was very pleasantly surprised when he took us to our table as it was surrounded by a feature stone wall to our rear, the stairs on one side and a balcony of what was in fact a mezzanine floor which means we overlooked downstairs and the kitchen. I loved the privacy this end table gave us. Meaning I wouldn't be worried if Aaron misbehaved slightly, or if I took too many photos of food - true blogger style. To have an adjacent table looking at me quizzicly every time I snapped would have been awkward. When hubby came in from parking the car he LOVED our  table, and it confirmed it was the right seat for us all. Aaron "needed" the loo about 4 times that evening as he adored going up and down the stairs bless him. I'm sure after a few hours on his feet the Manager isn't nearly as thrilled about those stairs.
The view from our table - that bright white light downstairs is the kitchen area.
Our waiter
I love waiters who not only have a sense of humour but who also pride themselves on service. Having been in retail for 24 years, superb service is something I live and die by and our waiter even managed to impress me. He came when hubby was parking and then came when Aaron and I were in the loo. When he FINALLY caught the whole family together he cracked a joke about it, and any ice that may have remained was firmly broken. Each time he came to the table he crouched down, so as to be at eye-level - a really nice touch that did not go unappreciated.

As is the way when ordering in a restaurant he first wanted our order for drinks, but a few things are significant here

1) we ordered our mains too as by now we knew what we wanted and we didn't want to make the poor guy have to come to our table yet again.
2) we didn't order starters as we knew our mains would fill us and besides I was having a huge milkshake and wanted room for it.
3) they do unlimited refills for fizzy drinks which is always a winner.
The first mistake
When Daddy ordered his main meal he was asked if he wanted chunky chips or fries and asked for chunky. About 10 minutes after ordering, TWO bowls of chips arrived. I said to the husband "they can't be ours, as yours comes with chips but mine does not and I didn't order Aaron any" but hubby was adamant they were ours so he and Aaron dived in. I ended up joining them. Turned out this was THE best mistake that EVER happened as it meant we did not even notice in the slightest that our food was delayed (remember we didn't order starters).

Technical difficulties
Our waiter came, looking a little solemn, but perked up when he saw the chips and explained the mistake. He was very relieved and happy we were enjoying them. We were relieved and happy that he wasn't mad at us for eating them, so didn't even notice the gravitas as he embarked on his tale of sorrow. He had enquired with the kitchen about the whereabouts of our order (even though we weren't even chasing it - see that's proof of his efficiency) and then discovered that our order had not printed in the kitchen, due to till roll running out. Normally it would defer to another till but hadn't done. I THINK he then said our food would therefore be 90 instead of 45 minutes. We'd been knee deep in a Mr.Men book that both Daddy and Aaron were LOVING and I don't wear a watch, so we had no clue that we'd already been waiting a while. I think our waiter went away confused that we were not stamping our feet, but we were having a lovely evening and that supposed bad news wasn't going to spoil it. Plus, we appreciated being given a status update, without having to chase for one. It's amazing how being kept informed can take the thunder out of any storm.

The Manager came to also address said technical difficulties and he walked away just as confused as the smiles did not leave our faces. When I get chance to update my video footage from the night you'll hear Daddy say,  that out of all the children's books we've had at restaurants this Beefeater Mr.Men one was by far and the best. We did a page "spot the 12 differences", we did a maze and we even did a drawing of Mr Clever which we coloured in:
Our food
Daddy ordered Beefeater Mixed Grill £15.99 (without the upgrade), I ordered Oven-Baked Seabass £14.99 (which is NEW on the menu) and Aaron ordered Spaghetti Bolognese.
In a parcel
Open the parcel and potatoes, courgettes and perfect fish pour out!

Aaron's order was from the children's menu so he got crunchy vegetables and his main and garlic bread and pudding. A really good deal for £5.99. He did top it up though by having some of those aforementioned chunky chips AND stealing one of Daddy's sausages, off Daddy's plate when he was temporarily slowing down to let his food settle - you snooze you lose Daddy. I would like to whisper in Beefeater's ear though that I think cucumber would be better than celery as celery strikes me as being a bit too stringy and therefore a choke hazard for very little ones. Cucumber would have gone down a storm though. He did wolf down the carrots, which pleased me no end. Actually, in the kid's menu they have photos of everything, and I think I spy cucumber NOT celery in the featured photo.

We all loved our desserts. Not satisfied with losing myself at the bottom of a milkshake I then decided to find my way to the bottom of a big Eton Mess Sundae. Aaron after he ordered his, said he was being adventurous bless him. He didn't like the chocolate sauce but he loved the brownies and the icecream. Incidentally the icecream had Vanilla "dots" in which normally Aaron would class as the equivalent of spots. But he must finally be growing up as he dived in, and simply asked me what they were and happily accepted my answer (which never ever would have happened once upon a time). Daddy didn't talk much whilst he was in heaven devouring his dessert. I should have tasted it but I was too busy enjoying my own.
Beefeater Puddings Desserts

The apology
Fentimans Rose Lemonade BeefeaterWe didn't even have to ask for recompense for our delayed food, as the offer was made while our smiles were still intact. I got a complimentary drink, so I topped up my milkshake (which hadn't been at all too filling after all) with a Fentiman's Rose Lemonade which was exquisite. I really wanted something unusual to make me feel less sulky about my pregnant, non-alcohol drinking self. It was Saturday night after all. But I needn't be jealous of Daddy drinking as he got a mineral water, to counteract all of the Diet Pepsi he was drinking. Along with that, the desserts were gratis, which given we had a Leisure Voucher was a real treat. We'll definitely be back and we were so thrilled with the service we received we gave our waiter a £6 tip.

What we loved
All 3 of us without hesitation would say we loved the layout of the restaurant and the ambiance. The service was superb and non intrusive. Each visit to our table was welcomed, warm and genuine.

We loved our main meals, our desserts, the drinks and the Mr Men activity book. Oh and it must be said that the Mushroom Sauce that came with Daddy's grill was to die for! 

Oh and the toilets were immaculate, modern and smelled nice too. Great that they maintained the same high standards there, so that EVERYTHING formed the perfect setting.

I loved that Aaron's meal had a piece of Mr Men paper on the bottom of the plate - really nice touch.

Then, to top it all off, the waiter took Aaron to choose "a toy" and they came back with 4. Three girls and a boy. Little Miss Sunshine, Little Miss Naughty, Little Miss Princess and Mr Bump.
It was easy to keep Aaron occupied despite us being there for hours, as we were all having such a good time.

My dessert was an Eton Mess Mixed Berry Sundae, which I somehow got to the bottom of despite my two filling drinks, my filling main and my filling milkshake. It's decades since I have had a dessert like  that and it was quite literally NAUGHTY BUT NICE ;-)

What I would change
  1. The crunchy veg for kids should be cucumber not celery.
  2. Would be WONDERFUL to have a salad bar, but Beefeater is it too much to ask, when everything else is so perfect already?
  3. Aaron guzzled his Spag Bol but confided in me "it wasn't yummy but I ate all of it". Trust me, if it wasn't, he wouldn't have touched it, so clearly it was, but he must have had better. He is a bit of a Spag Bol connoisseur.
  4. Daddy's got a huge appetite and when I saw his grill I thought it would not satisfy him, yet it did. Because where you see one bit of meat, there is three in a concealed pile. So I think the presentation of that needs to be worked on, not just to aid my photography but also so that it is impressive when the waiter delivers it. Hey Chef/Kitchen: don't stack the meat! In my pic above you can see that the onion rings are too greasy. Well I had a separate side order of those too and I had to send them back and I am an onion ring lover ordinarily.
I may add to this review later but for now I have to hit the school run.

I just wanted to come back to say, I hate being under pressure to whizz from sitting down, to ordering, to drinks, to starters, to mains, to dessert to coffee, then being shown the bill and feeling the pressure to leave, so that the next family can have your table. Given that it was Saturday and bank holiday I was fully aware that may happen. I actually LOVED that we did everything at a slower pace. Yes we had a late night but we all came home in such a lovely mood, with warm full tummies. Relaxed vibe and wonderful evening. Thank you Beefeater.

Disclosure: We were given a voucher for our meal in exchange for an honest review. All photos, opinions and words are my own.

I have shared the full album of pics on my G+ page. Apologies for the photos but they are taken on my phone as my camera is broken.
Beefeater Emersons Green

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