I don’t usually review the service…

I don’t often say much about service in my restaurant reviews. Why not? Because I believe the element of chance in good vs not-so-good service is so great that whatever I say in my review, your experience will probably be different. I’ve found this to be true plenty of times: I’ve enjoyed great meals and wondered why the reviewer I read thought the service was “awful”, and I’ve been fed up waiting for my food at restaurants much caressed for their “warm, friendly service”. My opinion of the food is much more likely to agree with other reviews. So if I include more than a brief sentence about service it’s going to be at one extreme or the other!

Two other points I want to make…

Firstly, cock-ups happen now and again in a live environment, that’s life. So if you’re going to judge customer service, don’t judge the cock-up – judge how they respond to the cock-up. I’ve got zero problem with an over-cooked piece of duck, if it’s taken back to the kitchen and replaced in good time. I may well not even mention it in the review. I do have a problem if the waiter tries to deny that the duck is over-cooked. I don’t mind a late dish, if it arrives with an apology. I do mind if it just arrives eventually with no acknowledgment that something has gone wrong.

Second point, I find that you get back what you give out. If this isn’t true, then I’m the luckiest diner on earth. Because I eat out at least once a week and yet I’ve never once had truly bad service. I mean, truly bad, Basil Fawlty-esque, worth kicking up a fuss about. So given how often I read reviews claiming they received truly dire service, well I must either be stupendously lucky… or perhaps my attitude when dining out is somehow giving me a better outcome? Which is more likely? I don’t arrive late (at least not without phoning ahead to apologise), I don’t get picky about where we sit, I’m always polite, I don’t order off-menu, I don’t send dishes back unless they’re badly cooked. If I have to complain I do it clearly but friendlyly. That’s a word, I promise.

If you regularly get bad service at restaurants, have a look in the mirror. Or buy a rabbit’s foot.

All this preamble brings me to my favourite Brighton restaurant, The Chilli Pickle. Review here. Because we’re no longer in the south-east, the last time we visited was more than a year ago. That time, the spiced lassi was somehow not spiced at all. When we said it wasn’t good and ordered something else, the waitress just took the unfinished drinks away, brought the replacements, and left them all on the bill. Bit miffed. The Chilli Pickle are keen enough on customer service that they leave a feedback form with the bill, so I left some feedback and my Twitter handle. The next day I got a tweet apologising and offering to recoup the drinks when we next visited, which was friendly.

Bringing us forward a year, to last night, when we were in Brighton again and so of course went for The Chilli Pickle. I was astonished – after we ordered a couple of cocktails, our waiter declared that they were on the house, and sorry about the poor service last time. Seriously, I’d actually forgotten all about the incident, couldn’t even remember what we had complained about. And when we ordered spiced lassis later, he brought a couple of samplers out to check that we were happy with the flavour this time!

I should mention, while I’m here, that we had some punchy and wonderful pani puris to start, along with fantastic pieces of deep-fried spiced skate. And for main I enjoyed a crispily superb masala dosa, while Maureen actually had the best ever tandoori lamb chop ever in the history of ever. Ever. Seriously. And as if it wasn’t good enough, it was served with a stunning star anise-scented curry gravy.

This is my testamony to The Chilli Pickle. I’m a food blogger. I usually visit Brighton a couple of times a year. There are loads of interesting places to eat and review in Brighton. But I never do, because I have to eat at The Chilli Pickle. It’s unashamedly my fave. : )

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