All reader reviews by Ness

Blue Elephant

Wednesday December 21st, 2005.

I choose Blue Elephant for my partner’s birthday dinner as it was recommended as one of the most romantic restaurants in London. Oh, how wrong can some people be? I understand that this is the silly season and as such people are dining out more than the norm but tell me, how can a 350 seat restaurant be ‘romantic’ at any time of the year? Simply put, it can’t!

That aside, I’ll let you in on my ‘dining’ experience at the Blue Elephant, the first thoughts that came to mind when I walked through the entrance were ‘Oh my god, are we in the right place?’, ‘This is going to be interesting’ and finally ‘are you sure you want to eat here?’.

So we handed in out coats and were shown our seats, which of course were directly by a walkway (nothing like being bumped every 2 minutes by passer bys), oh well I know the food is going to be great.

As the restaurant was packed to the rafters I decided to order asap, that said the waitress came took our drinks order and wasn’t seen again. We had to ask 3 times if we could order. We finally settled on the Royal Banquet. Whilst waiting for the food I took the time to look around the room and went through the general checklist you use when booking a restaurant for an important meal, this is my impression of the Blue Elephant:

Dress – Smart. So smart that even hoodies wouldn’t seem out of place.

Décor – Thai inspired and likened to that of an exotic rainforest. More like a cafeteria with a few placed plants and a river running through it. Cheap and nasty. First thought (with hand actually held to my mouth to stop me from gawping out loud) was ‘this is so gaudy’.

Seating – yeap you guessed it, so close you can hear what the person sitting next to you has to say. Apparently, the gentleman next to me was looking for an apartment and was willing to spend £400 a week.

Atmosphere – Ambient and romantic. You are kidding right? My partner and I had to yell at each other and turn our heads sideway simply to have a conversation. There was so much background noise that we gave up speaking and just sat there. When we wanted to talk again we had to tap each other on the hand. Romantic? That’s not my idea of romantic.

Service – Is there such a thing as ‘over service’? I don’t think that my partner and I were left alone to yell at each other for more 3 minutes without a waiter/waitress asking if everything was ok,

Price - £120 for 2 people and I still went home and ate a ham sandwich. Enough said? I don’t care how good it was.

Manager – I did state to the manager that I was shocked at how different the restaurant was in reality than how it appeared on the web yet instead of listening to what I had to say he barraged me with the wonders of the restaurant and that after 20 years of existence there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with it. I shrug my shoulders and thought its not everyday you get feedback so take it with both hands and understand what your customer sees and wants because before long there may not be any left!

The food did turn up and it was ok. That’s it, that’s all I can say, ok. Nothing flash, nothing to send me into a spin. Just ok.

So is it really that bad? Yes.

There are a few things about London that I find trying yet I do as most others and get on with it. This is the first review I have ever written and so yes it was that bad it actually drove me to write this.

Is there anything redeeming about the Blue Elephant?

Well I had to think hard about that. So I went through who is best suited and may possibly enjoy this ‘restaurant’.

Families – No. Parents would spend the entire time wondering if the kid would end up in the river doing the dog paddle or worst, lost somewhere out there in the ‘jungle’.

Couples – No. Romantic this place certainly is not.

Party of friends – Well there is the novelty factor but I’m sure that would wear off very quickly. You can go to cheaper better restaurants with you mates and have a much better time.

Business groups – Yes. I think the Blue Elephant should re-market itself as a restaurant catering for business dining. Hey, someone else is paying (your boss), you get to be as loud as you want (as no one can hear you anyway), you don’t mind hearing everything the account manager has to say (can be used for future bribery) because he’s all but sitting on your lap and you get to feel pampered because every 3 minutes you’ll be asked ‘is everything ok?’.

In summary, if you are after a romantic meal with your loved one. Go home, put a bottle (or 2) of your favourite wine in the fridge, order your local take away Thai, turn off the tv, turn off the lights, light a few candles, serve and enjoy.

You’ll no doubt have the thick end of £100 left in your pocket and to think you’ve even saved the cab fare home!

Thursday, December 22, 2005
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 4 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 0 | Value for money 0

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