I confessed to dinner on Saturday (when perhaps I should have been juicing). Well I figured that I should let you know where we went. My friend, Linda, celebrated her 50th birthday last year at a sister restaurant and had a wonderful meal, wonderful ambiance and most importantly, a wonderful celebration. So this year she decided to celebrate her 50+1 in Tartufo. She chose the venue last year because it was ‘private dining’ ie where you host your party in a private room but with restaurant service and menu. We were to be in the Cocteau room.
Sadly I missed her birthday celebration last year so was new this to chain of ‘private dining’ venues. I was however excited to find somewhere new to host parties and importantly, somewhere that was tried, tested and recommended.
Linda, being ever efficient, sent us all the menu choices some weeks ago. I thought the options looked great and varied to suit most palates. Great!
Then we received an email from Linda talking about the wines. She had been sent the wine list and was more than a little disappointed. The selection was fairly non-descript but even more disappointing was that even the cheapest of wines was a ridiculous price. Obviously we all understand that there’s always a mark-up when you drink wine in a restaurant compared to buying a bottle in a retail outlet. But one particular ‘average’ wine caught our eye… usually £8-10 in a supermarket. £20-25 in a restaurant. £45 in Tartufo!!! Come-on! Really? All of them were similar. So either we drink bad wine, pay a fortune or go teetotal.
Linda checked what would be the cost if we bought our own wines. How much would they charge for corkage? Hmmm £25 per bottle!
Oh well, it’s a birthday celebration – some people bought their own wine and others drank a glass of wine with dinner. I made the decision that instead, and as I’m on a juicing regimen (ahem) that I’d drive and drink only water. Well I didn’t think I could be THAT bad!
So we all arrived on time at 7.30pm and made our way downstairs to the restaurant area only to be ushered back upstairs and asked to take a drink before dinner in the bar. Usually not a problem but I think perhaps another ploy for Tartufo to charge us ridiculous prices. Despite there being a bar that we could order our drinks from, we were told that they had to bring the drinks to us and that a service charge of 12% would be added to the drinks order. Someone asked if they could just have the drinks at the bar but was told that the 12% would be difficult to deduct! A half of lager cost £8 + service, so I dread to think how much the wine or G&Ts were.
I can see no other reason, other than another source of income, for our being sent to the bar. We were a private party with a private room with dinner and wine and a start time of 7.30!
When eventually we were allowed downstairs, I was pleased to see the private room was beautifully set. Each place had a place-card with our name and the menu we had chosen on it.
Tartufo offer a range of set meal options. We had originally thought we’d have 4 courses however had finally chosen 3 courses so that those who had to run for trains home didn’t get stuck in London or without a course!
My meal was delicious, tasty and well thought out. The portions were ladylike – fine for me on a diet not so fine for any of the gentlemen diners!
The service was slow and scant. Only when plates were arriving or leaving the table did there seem to be any waiters present. A few of the waiters clearly were having a bad day or perhaps had a bad attitude as felt it necessary, for example, to put wine glasses onto the table with a heavy hand and a huff!
I’m not sure what time it was when they asked us to leave our private dining room and move to the drawing room upstairs. Sounds reasonable as they wanted to get in and clear the room? When we got upstairs we found the ‘drawing room’ freezing cold with the door open, the fire not lit and feeling quite uncomfortable. I closed the door and asked if we could have the fire lit. The door was opened again and I was told that no fire can be lit after 11pm in this hotel. Needless to say this drew our evening to a quick close.
I would love to recommend Tartufo private dining but quite simply can’t. The idea of private dining locations in London where you can arrange a dinner (at a ‘reasonable’ cost) for friends but without the washing up or needing a house extension are to be encouraged. However sadly Tartufo isn’t the venue to use!