On Saturday 4th October, my mum travelled down from Lincoln to visit me ready for our trip to the Masterchef Restaurant and Bar for brunch, something we had both been looking forward to for a couple of months. As we arrived at the Blue Fin Building in perfect time for our 11.30am sitting, I spotted a group of people outside smoking in chef’s whites, and while not giving off the best first impressions, I thought to myself perhaps it isn’t from the Masterchef restaurant.
We were greeted with a warm welcome from the staff and shown to our table. The much hyped views of London from the building were a let down, as we were sat behind a partition to a staircase and couldn’t see out of any windows! Ross, our waiter, gave us our menus and couple of minutes to peruse – it could have taken a few seconds really. There was granola & yoghurt to start accompanied by fresh fruit and then a choice of either Jack’s ‘Maple Syrup and Bacon Pancakes’ or Natalie’s ‘Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg with Caviar’. My mum ordered a coffee and I ordered the freshly squeezed orange juice (£4.50 on the menu – but offered as complimentary – which we found strange, perhaps a way of keeping us sweet), and as we did my mum asked ‘Where’s Ping then?’ (the third chef who was supposed to be cooking for us) and we asked ‘Is she squeezing the oranges?’ to which the reply was ‘The chefs won’t be on site for another hour’. A great start, as we, and I expect the vast majority of the other diners, had booked especially for the chefs, and we had booked under the premise that they would be cooking for us, as advertised by the restaurant’s website.
We made our orders (one pancake and one salmon) and heard the customers on the next table complaining about exactly the same thing. After speaking to them, it seems we weren’t the first to be disappointed, with some customers even getting up and leaving without eating. I have to say, those that did, didn’t really miss out on the food. The granola and fresh fruit was something even a five year old could whip together, with the fruit being served in a weird ramekin that looked like an old cat food tin. Then the ‘main’ course of brunch arrived, mine a few pancakes with some burnt streaky bacon slapped on top, and my mum’s two anaemic looking muffins with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, dotted with some lumpfish roe. I wasn’t expecting Beluga, but honestly, it was nothing special, nothing that couldn’t have been made at home in your pyjamas while sat in front of the television. At £20 a head for food like this, you’d expect the atmosphere to be special, but it wasn’t. A very clinical looking restaurant with mis-matched chairs, reminiscent of your average work canteen. No background music, not even a bubbly chatty atmosphere. It was all bland to say the least.
As Ross approached to clear our not-so empty plates, you could tell he was ready to hear more disappointed tales in his body language. We explained that we were annoyed at the fact that we were sold this meal under the impression that we would be cooked for by our favourite Masterchef contestants, and not by his service, which I have to say was excellent, a very lovely and efficient waiter. He spoke to Tina, who I assume was the manager of the event, who said that we could have a glass of champagne on the house and apologised for the experience. We refused the champagne, just wanting to leave the restaurant as soon as we could, as our precious weekend time could have been better spent in Zara in Sloane Square.
On leaving the restaurant, we gave a generous tip to Ross explaining that we wanted to show our gratitude to those who worked hard to make our meal enjoyable and those who unfortunately were on the receiving end of all of the complaints when they should have had some support from the organisers in such situations. All I can say is, thank goodness we had booked Cote Brasserie for dinner in the evening!
In future, I’m not going to stop watching Masterchef because of this terrible experience, but I will never spend any money on anything Masterchef related or visit one of these ‘pop-up’ resaturants again when I could go to The Criterion and enjoy a champagne afternoon tea with delicious food for around the same price.