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The Hartley: superb food and ...

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Friday 30 April 2004 5.18pm
... terrible service.

The food is outstanding, wonderful, brilliant, delicious, fresh, tasty. But why strive for such excellence if the waiters are indifferent, slow and squeezy-lemon-faced? I've made three visits recently: I think they've got a problem. I know it's a pub, not a restaurant, but it markets itself as a place of quality, so I expect (to give one example) to get my credit card back within five minutes (max), not fifteen (and only after I went to the bar).

You're on to a winner, fellers, but there's competition for this kind of food everywhere now. Drop the attitude.
Friday 30 April 2004 5.38pm
S, I agree that service in Hartley's could be improved, but I didn't experience as strongly as you did. Though slow and sometimes inefficient, and find them very friendly and welcoming. They always recognize their customers, which is good and try their best if you want a table when they are fully booked.
Friday 30 April 2004 10.31pm
I'm afraid I have to agree with S. I've been there several times and found the food good and the staff friendly. Then last night I went with 2 friends who'd never been there before. After waiting at least 40 minutes for our food we enquired where our order had got to and were told that it was a pub not a restaurant and if we had a problem we should complain to the chef. A second member of staff gave us the same line about it being a gastropub - does this mean they are used to complaints from hungry punters? I don't think I'll persuade my friends to go there again, which is a pity as I think it's a great addition to the area.
Saturday 1 May 2004 8.01am
First visit we made they had loads of staff and the service was even a little TOO attentive (this was just after it opened.)

Went last week and the service was fairly awful. The tall bloke in there just seems to flit about and just doesn't seem to have any natural service skills. Our main courses took about 40 mins to arrive which to me, in a 'Gastropub', is not acceptable.

On the floor, there is just nobody in control and this really is totally obvious. When we were there, people were getting so fed up with waiting they were trying to order food/ drinks at the bar.

It's a shame as they are obviously keen and the food is good - they just don't have any natural restaurant/ service skills.
Monday 3 May 2004 7.47pm
What a pity to hear people have not had good service - must say that hasn't been my experience, I've always found the staff great & really friendly - I've been there about 5 times. The only time it's ever been a bit slow was one night when it was completely, utterly rammed, so perhaps understandable. Hopefully things will get sorted, as it's a great place, we need more like it!
Tuesday 4 May 2004 9.24am
Should have been there the other night when the chef got loud and very stroppy, enough to intimidate my three friends who had arrived late-ish (9:35 or so) and comitted the heinous crime of ordering some food. He stomped about and banged and crashed and shouted at his underlings all no more than 2 metres from where we were sitting. When their food turned up one of the party appeared to have been singled out in that her burger came with no salad (her companion's was well dressed in this respect), and appeared to have been "seared" in a way that realistically left it raw, and do I know the difference between rare and raw. They were also rather disappointed to have received MacDonalds style "fries" rather than proper chips.

I have to say that when she complained, the bloke in charge was really helpful, apologised and wrote off the cost of all three meals.

My experience that evening was a little annoying too. I was kept waiting at an otherwise empty bar for five minutes while a very slow moving barman turned three matchbooks into decorative little tents to be presented with three different bills. Let's face it, it isn't a gastropub, it's a restaurant themed to look a bit like an old boozer. Aren't most so called gastropubs like this?

I will admit to being a little biased - it's not my cup of tea to start with but it seems that their problems are all down to staffing. Maybe they can improve it. I hope so, it's good to have the variety on TBR.

"I knew I was cured"
Tuesday 4 May 2004 11.18am
on a recent visit i found the service was friendly but chaotic to say the least - the food was excellent.
it appeared that the people working the tables had little or no training and had been left alone with no direct management on that evening. one waitress said " i won't pour your wine because i always get it wrong and pour too much or too little..."
they hadn't split responsibility for groups of tables up between them so that questions were often repeated 4 times in the space of a couple of minutes!
the excuse that it's a pub and not a restaurant would not really wash in the world of N1 gastropubs where service is generally good, but maybe in SE1 where there is less competition, people will tolerate it.
having had a good moan, i should say that i will be going back, but i add these comments in the hope that the owner, who would no doubt want to combine goood food and service, sees them....

Tuesday 4 May 2004 11.36am
I posted for the same reason. Great place, wonderful food, and I want to support it. But I'd like to see the owner get his floor staff into gear. Preferably by replacing the lot of them.
Tuesday 4 May 2004 11.50am

Let's not pussyfoot around the matter - the service in The Hartley is a joke.
I turned up one Sunday evening with a friend and the barmaid asked us whether we were intending on eating - which we were - she said that she would bring a menu over to us...after about 10 minutes she remembered us, and then it dawned on her that they don't actually serve food on Sunday evenings!!
I have also been stood at the bar for an unacceptable amount of time whilst the barstaff (and somebody who looked like the owner) had a conversation. They knew I was there but continued to ignore me until I decided to walk out of the pub having not paid for my 2 drinks.
A disgrace.
I know I always say it but the service in The Garrison is superb. Even on a extremely busy Friday night I have nothing but praise for them, perhaps they should run training sessions for The Hartley lot.
Tuesday 4 May 2004 1.06pm
S, I would be very worried if any establishment took their time handing back any credit card of my mine, a few years back mine was kept for several minutes by a member of staff in a shop who bent down behind the counter to complete the transaction, I was worried about card duplication so cancelled mine that evening.

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