Review by liz Hagerty on 17th July, 2011
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Had a great time at the Chequers. Couldn't recognise it from the review placed last October (which we've seen word for word on other websites which seems mean). We had a delicious Sunday lunch with excellent service. And a world-class Bloody Mary, better even than New York. It's a friendly pub restaurant with plenty of class.
Date visited: April 17 2011
Review by Seb H on 24th October, 2010
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My partner and I went for dinner at the Chequers in Burcot last Wednesday and it was a real disappointment. We are both in our late twenties, we both used to work in restaurants (so we know how service should be) and we both enjoy good food.
We started going to this place years ago, when slovakian people (Maja and Milan) were working there and the owners were proud of the place and taking care of it but it has been in free fall for the last few years: tonight was the first time after already a bad experience a year ago and it is no better.
It started as we arrived: the two young waitresses were more interested in chatting with the boys at the bar than taking care of us (it is one of the boys who eventually told them to take care of us and apologised for that!). We ordered a bottle of wine to start drinking next to the fire place and when they brought it, they just left it there: didn't serve it nor asked if I wanted to taste it. When I ordered my pork belly, she asked me how I wanted it cooked: I don't think you should/could have this meat rare or medium. When we were asked to go to our table, we had to carry our glasses and bottle ourself (not that I can not do it but in a nice place, the waiter would do that for you! At least I had to do it when I was working in a restaurant).
At the table, they left another set of wine glasses on the table although we already had our own glasses (I asked them to remove them when they brought the main course because they were really big balls and took a lot of space on the table). Talking about giving them advise, they put 2 tables together for other diners and incredibly had not realised that there were 2 different types of wine glasses: not really nice so I told them to change that for the coming clients. Talking about wine glasses, it is surprising to see in total 3 different types of wine glasses in a place so nicely decorated. It spoils all the nice touches (and it is not like there are 100 seats!).
Finally, when they cleared the table after our main courses, they left my bread plate, the small plate with butter and the pot of ketchup: not something you want to look at while having your pudding. Even if it is just in your mind, salt and sugar don't really mix well together.
Although we did fancy a desert, the whole experience prevented us from ordering any (and they waited ages between the moment they gave us the menus and the moment they came to take the desert order; and the menu she gave to my partner was the wine menu, although if it was written 'wine menu' all over it!). Another point just sprang to my mind: the waitresses playing with the music while we were sitting next to the fire place and having a glass of wine, trying to relax. They were putting modern rock and skipping songs half way through: really not what you want when you want to relax after a hard day of work.
Now the food. My partner had liver pate as a starter and it was nice (difficult to make a mistake with that). I had the stilton and pear tart. It was ok but it would have been much nicer if the pear compote had been (slightly) warm and not freezing cold. It was so cold that it was ruining all the flavours from the cheese and the pastry. Disappointing mistake for such a 'famous' chef.
The mains were 'the famous chequers burger' for my partner and as said previously, the pork belly for me. My dish was nice, nothing to complain about but it was not the case for my partner's burger: the bread was cold (from fridge or freezer) and the meat itself was not really warm either... I really can't see why this burger is any better than any other decent burger... how hard is it to put the burger breads in the oven or the toaster to simply get it nice and crispy?
In conclusion, this is an expensive disappointing experience (this is not a cheap place!). We wanted to give it another chance after that previous one but now, we won't be returning, for sure! The owners of this restaurant really need to be more present and check what their young inexperienced staff are doing (you don't leave 3 young people aged 18-20 responsible of a restaurant).
You can say we are picky. I agree that the things that happened are just small things and that one or 2 would not have been at problem at all, everybody can make mistakes, but all together... no! I do not accept that for the price I am paying! As I said, this is not a cheap place! The place is trying to show high standards (and the place looks really nice, no discussion about that!) but the quality of the service and the food is not following.
As a side note, I first sent this review directly to the owner first, to give them a chance to explain themselves but I haven't had any reply... it really shows that they don't care... they are basing their business on their past reputation but I guess it won't last for long.
Date visited: 20/10/10
Review by David Leak on 2nd November, 2007
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Dear sir or madam,
My wife and I regularly dine out and we have a number of restaurants we consider as our favourites within a radius of Abingdon. On Saturday 27th Oct we dinned for the first time at your restaurant which had been recommended by a colleague of my wife, both of whom are chef trainers at Oxford Brooks University and as such, have high standard expectations.
Both my wife and I were very impressed with not only the relaxed and friendly helpful and attentive bar and waiting staff, the lovely atmosphere [helped by that lovely open fire], but also the superb uncomplicated concise menu and the excellent wine, priced very reasonably.
In fact so impressed that we decided to change or plans for Christmas day and have booked with you. We will certainly put your restaurant high on our favourites list and we will be back soon.
Thank you to all your staff for a memorable dining experience. See you again soon.
Date visited: 27th Oct 07