When my friend invited me to a free 2 course champagne dinner at the Hilton I jumped at the chance, and was bitterly disappointed to find snobbish staff and lazy service ruined what could have been a lovely meal.
Upon arrival, we waited a good five minutes at the entrance before one of the many members of staff deigned to ask us if we had a reservation, then immediately turned their noses up at us once we handed over our gift certificate. We were then seated at the worst table, in the corner by the front door, and waited a long while for our complimentary drink (and every subsequent course). Yes, the whole thing was free for us, but regardless of the cost, every customer should be treated with the same respect and attentiveness.
The food itself was average, and definitely not worth paying for. Myself and my friend both had the Broccoli and Stilton soup to start, which had a nice flavour, but was a little thin for my liking, and the croutons were far from cooked – in fact they were soft and sloppy. We also noticed that the other ‘paying’ patrons in the restaurant were offered a warm roll from a selection of freshly baked breads with their starters, yet our table was left ignored. On top of this, the soup was lukewarm by the time we could eat it, as the waitress neglected to bring our soup spoons until after the course was delivered. Again, although we were technically having a free meal, surely businesses use opportunities like that to entice customers back, not put them off for ever.
For my main course, I chose the Duo of Tagliatelle, Summer Vegetables, Chilli and Tarragon dressing, which was a very pleasant dish, and actually quite spicy. I was pleasantly surprised by the kick, but the other flavours were very subtle and therefore the dish quickly became dull. My friend chose from the Grill: a chicken breast, accompanied by slow roasted tomato, grilled mushroom, watercress and onion rings. The onion rings were in fact shredded, and these were really tasty, and she also ordered french fries as an extra side dish as the portions were quite small. The only downside to the chips was the lack of sauce – yours for £2.95 if you wish for dip.
Although the food was enjoyable, it was nothing special and I have eaten far better in many other great, cheaper restaurants in Liverpool. Despite the luxurious, posh interior at The Exchange, the food actually fell quite flat and I would never pay up to £30 for two courses when I could eat better elsewhere for half the price. The staff really ruined the night for us, as the service was lazy and lax, and this was very obviously due to the fact they saw us as cheap clients. This really hit a nerve with both of us, as we are certainly not ‘cheap’ or customers to be disrespected. What gives a waiter the right to make us feel like second class citizens in a restaurant, just because we have a voucher? If I ran a place such as this, I would make sure my staff did everything they could to ensure repeat business.
Add to this the news that the table was so hard to book, I can safely say this is the first and last time I will be dining at the Hilton. We did not leave a tip.