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The Exhibition Rooms

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Poll: How Do You Rate This Restaurant? (114 member(s) have cast votes)

How Do You Rate This Restaurant?

  1. Excellent (50 votes [43.10%])

    Percentage of vote: 43.10%

  2. Good (31 votes [26.72%])

    Percentage of vote: 26.72%

  3. Average (22 votes [18.97%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.97%

  4. Poor (13 votes [11.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 11.21%

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#31 clive



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Posted 30 July 2008 - 04:04 PM

Right, in the face of all these glowing reports I'm afraid I'm going to have to post the first negative review. Went there for lunch a couple of days ago. Although the service was polite, it took them over half an hour to come up with two salads. My missus had the chargrilled chicken salad which hadn't been dressed, wasn't chargrilled and was very bland. I went for the seared tuna which was, in fact, tuna nicoise which I don't really like and wouldn't have ordered if it had been correctly named on the menu. I got the feeling this was just teething trouble and when we spoke to the manager he was very apologetic and gave us the meal on the house. But for a place that's billing itself as something of a gourmet experience, I was extremely disappointed. We'll definitely be back to try an evening meal but, on first impressions, I don't think Joanna's has much to worry about.

#32 miss_g



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Posted 30 July 2008 - 04:40 PM

i think it is excellent they gave you the meal for free. I have had experiences (see White Hart thread- who couldn't have give a flying fig and certainly didn't re-inburse me)...so I think that is very kind spirited of them and certainly indicates they are keen to see you again and not lose your custom.
good luck to them.
andrea x

#33 clive



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Posted 30 July 2008 - 08:02 PM

They did deal with the situation really well and the bloke we spoke to seemed genuinely concerned that the food wasn't up to scratch. Maybe we just picked a really bad time and they were having some kind of problem in the kitchen. Hopefully I'll be eating my words in a couple of weeks when I've gone back and been blown away by the food like everyone else.

#34 elleme



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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:51 AM

I won't give it a rating until I've been there at least one more time. My first impressions with a paid-for lunch were that the food is decent enough, nothing which made me go 'wow' but good quality. My chargrilled chicken salad arrived with dressing unlike Clive's. Chips (I don't know whether they came with my meal or my partner's) tasted faintly lardy to me and were not quite as crisp as they could be perhaps due to being served in a bowl but that might be just my individual preference. One thing I found slightly problematic was both hearing and being heard - the music was a little too intrusive for daytime and the waitress both softly spoken and with imperfect English, although certainly helpful.

I agree with the point a couple of people made about the loos, they are a bit on the cramped side and I suspect you could easily get whacked in the back by a door while washing your hands if someone wasn't careful.

#35 Silver



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Posted 01 August 2008 - 06:42 AM

I love the place and am so pleased it has chosen C.P. but in the end it doesn't matter how good the food may or may not have been, if the music is too LOUD!

Edited by Silver, 01 August 2008 - 06:43 AM.

#36 jannism



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Posted 01 August 2008 - 07:30 AM

So quite a few people would like the music to be turned down a notch or two. I do hope that everyone who thinks so has made a point of letting the management know.

I plan on visiting in a couple of weeks by which time I expect the issue to have been dealt with. ;)

#37 elleme



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Posted 02 August 2008 - 05:27 PM

I chickened out because it wasn't absolutely blaring, just over comfortable conversation levels, but you're right, I should say something another time.

#38 subee



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Posted 03 August 2008 - 12:43 AM

Having walked passed the Exhibition Rooms the other day, my husband and I were amazed to see a fantastic new looking restaurant in CP. I don't know where we've been but we didn't even see this place being done up. Anyway, as me and my husband were trying to decide where to have our late lunch (it was just gone 4pm), and this place had a sign outside saying brunch and lunch were being served "now", we had a little peek through the door and saw, what we thought, was a very impressive looking new restaurant. We asked the guy directly inside if they were still serving. The guy, who we now assume was the manager/owner, seemed to just smirk at us and simply said "no" - not even offering any info on the place, e.g, opening times. And hmm, yes it must really weird for someone to assume you are still serving lunch when you have a sign outside saying that you are. Weirder still that you would laugh at some potential new customers when you've just opened a restaurant. When I asked what his opening hours were, for future reference, he gave them to us whilst not even looking at either one of us, and when I said we'd perhaps pop back for a drink after eating somewhere else, he didn't even bother waiting to finish listening to what I said but instead just walked off. We weren't sure if he was being rude, just simply didn't care, or was just a bit stressed considering they had only recently opened.

Anyway, we thought their menu looked great and a fantastic alternative to Joannas. So we thought we'd give it a try and booked a table for Saturday night. The starters were both fantastic; the crab and the sardines were both amazing. However, no sooner had our plates been taken away did our main courses arrive. No kidding, after 30 minutes of being seated at our table we had ordered, eaten our starters and almost finished eating our main courses (we'd normally expect to spend at least an hour and a half in a restaurant but here we were really hurried, despite there being a few spare tables available). We also endured listening to the manager (the same guy who we'd met the day before), telling off his staff on numerous occasions (since we were sat near to the kitchen/bar). If this really is the owner/manager, we feel he really needs to work on his personality/customer service skills. We are surprised to read all these glowing reports of this restaurant, but then again most of them appear to be from people who were at a "free tasting", so then I'm sure all the staff/management would have all been on their 'best behaviour'. Well, after our two experiences of meeting this one particular guy, we were very unimpressed by the service. We were made to feel that our custom was not appreciated, although the bar staff in the basement were very friendly, even if a bit slow.

I understand that any new place has teething problems, but it wouldn't hurt for the manager to recognise this and apologise or at least be a bit personable, but we received a very "cold" welcoming. Also, although both the starters were great, my husband's steak was very average. It was a bad cut of meat and the sauce was quite buttery and bland. I really hope this place sorts itself out as we would both welcome a new great place to eat out, but at the moment we are not impressed enough with the service to make this a regular place to go.

#39 Elmo


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Posted 03 August 2008 - 07:31 AM

Can't comment on the food, but went in for a drink last night. Overall impression is very good. The decor is stylish yet understated throughout with lots and lots of exposed brickwork and flamboyant furniture. The bar and courtyard areas are a triumph... Yes drinks are expensive, but well selected, and I had a very good cocktail.

Problems? Table service in the bar was a little slow, and the toilets are a health and safety disaster waiting to happen! They're too cramped, and would be practically unusable by anyone not of average size, with a disability, or with enough cash to get sh1tfaced... Just stealing a few feet off the courtyard to make them bigger would have helped. Signage needs to get sorted as well. I'm sure it's on the list to get sorted, but A4 printed bits of paper don't do the place justice.

subee - this kind of rapid turnover is a feature of a lot of London restaurants, it's just not the norm out in the 'burbs. As long as you know what you're in for when you book, I can't see a problem. Looks like you were just taken aback by the speed of service.

Anyway, I look forward to trying the food at some point.
Jermaine was right... "You can't reason with stupidity"

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#40 Nanazola



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Posted 03 August 2008 - 06:38 PM

Subee I couldn't agree more. We had exactly the same experience as you, both with the almost hostile booking-taker/maitre d' - surely not the friendly Brian Butler who's been emailing? - and with the chivvying service.

We went there for a meal last night, and came out quite hacked off as well as £70 lighter. I was going to post, but didn't want to do it in the heat of the moment. But reading your post made me realise it wasn't just our experience.

First the good stuff. The food was great, cooked by someone who obviously knows and cares about what they're doing. My slightly under-generous, though delicious, crab salad and single bread roll was more than made up for by oodles of perfectly cooked duck breast. The decor is pleasant, the ambience ok (though it's never a good feeling to find yourself more smartly dressed than the maitre d').

However, the kitchen team is being severely let down by front of house. Our waitress was sweet and smiley but rather nervous, and from what you say about hearing the wait staff being bawled out, I can see why. Service was fast-food fast. Plates were whisked away literally as soon as the last forkful had been eaten. Glasses replenished when still a third full. In the middle of dessert, we were asked if we'd like to have our coffee with it. (No, thanks.) When we did have coffee, the maitre d' suggested rather forcefully that we might like to move to the comfortable sofas (No, we wouldn't.) We felt he barely stopped short of asking us to just get it down and get out. When we booked, the maitre d' said we'd have 2 hours. We eventually left after an hour and a half of harrying service.

Why the hurry? We decided it's the layout. There's a massive round table, which seats 7 or 8 people, dominating the middle of the room. It was empty the entire night, while all the couples - the vast majority of the clientele - were squashed at tables for two around the periphery. Even a larger party, who were originally going to be seated at the big table, asked if they could go to a smaller one, simply because they would have been too far from each other to hold a conversation. It seems fairly obvious that having smaller square tables instead would give the restaurant much more flexibility, and they wouldn't have to put so much pressure on waiting staff and customers. As it is, everyone's in thrall to the designer's idea of a grand statement.

Not in any hurry to return.

#41 brianb123


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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:08 AM

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments. I am delighted everyone seems pleased with The Exhibition Rooms. Having said that it hasn’t gone un-noticed that some of the comments haven’t been altogether favourable and I can only apologise to those whose experience of The Exhibition Rooms has been unsatisfactory.

With that said I would like to address a couple of things mentioned in the posts. It has taken over a year to bring The Exhibition Rooms to Crystal Palace and this was due in part to all the obstacles thrown in front of us by Lambeth Council.

• Permission to remove walls
• Replacing walls
• Extensions
• Shop front etc…

The list is endless and while some of these were granted, others were not.

In relation to the toilets in the lounge area, again we were held back in our choices and had to adhere to the guidelines, which left us with very few options on size and space in the downstairs toilets. I can tell you that we do have toilets on the ground floor for those dining in our restaurant and these will become operational shortly and will allow for greater flexibility.

The question of signage has also been mentioned. Because of the time of year and holidays it has been quite a challenge getting this sorted out and in place. However, by the end of August all of this will be taken care of and with the addition of our awnings, there will no way anyone coming to The Exhibition Rooms will miss us.

Lastly – service. As you can imagine with every new restaurant opening there comes some teething problems in relation to getting everything running smoothly and efficiently. It takes time and sometimes we’ll get it wrong, but we want everyone that comes in to have a fantastic experience and great time so we are working hard to make sure everything is up to the standard that you and we expect.

I sincerely hope that if anyone has had an unsatisfactory experience that they will come back and give us another chance.

Thanks again,

#42 Sylvester



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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:29 AM

We tried this place for the first time at lunchtime on Sunday, when they were offering a Sunday roast (beef). The two starters took a little time to arrive, but after that service was quick and efficient. The food was fine but not historic (for historic go to Chapter One in Locksbottom, Orpington - sorry, off topic). We did not feel particularly hurried despite an obvious quick turnover of customers around us. What irritated the hell out of me was that several (male) customers arrived dressed in scruffy t-shirts and horrid shorts that would be more suitable for the beach! This is a fairly smart restaurant and it is not acceptable to turn up looking like you've just done the gardening. BrianB123, please can you instigate a dress code?
Otherwise a pleasant experience which cost £112 for four including a very nice bottle of Portuguese red.
aka Pie

#43 whelan


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Posted 04 August 2008 - 02:56 PM

I went for drinks in the downstairs bar of the Exhibition Rooms on Friday night. I brought around 7 friends with me, and must say that all were very impressed. Very good atmosphere and vibe, a nice alternative to the other bars in the Triangle. Good bar service and a nice selection of drinks on the menu. I can see this becoming a big attraction. Kudos on managing to hit the restaurant and bar scene in one go!

#44 philipburgoyne



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Posted 04 August 2008 - 03:04 PM

Mrs B and I tried this on sunday...yes the big round table was empty...I assumed it was booked...all in all it was fine. There were temperature issues and there were punters with their jackets on their shoulders. Food was very well prepared...I had the tuna starter which was cooked to perfection and pork which was cooked in a different way to that which I have ever had...but the lamb dish that mrs b had was nothing short of magnificent...it looked it, it smelt it and the little I was allowed tasted it! it was a morrocan dish with cous cous...without equal! If only I had the descriptive powers of Lady Z!
I had no faith in the waitress but she delivered everything spot on. Really nice decor...and downstairs looks lovely...I wore long trousers which is unusual!

#45 barbersfort



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Posted 05 August 2008 - 08:52 PM

went there on sat nite..very nice decor and great bar downstairs..very impresseive and a great change to triangle boozers..

but those mad toilets..tiny! one basin for the whole restaurant is a bit mad...