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A Review of Sorts – The Durham Castle Arms

By Ingeegoodbee - 10 June 2008 62

Durham Castle Arms

Green Square, Kingston

62951769

Being a rather cold and wet rainy Canberra day I thought I’d treat myself to a hot lunch. The inclement weather meant that the outdoor tables at all the regular café haunts of Green Square were all empty and the meager seating indoors full – well all except for the Durham Castle Arms that is – and that, unfortunately should have been a warning. There were a number of others who had ventured inside the Durham’s contrived faux olde English tavern interior. I went into the restaurant and chose a table near the window and perused the menu – basic pub fare: burgers, schnitzels, steaks, fried seafood and bangers and mash ranging in price between about $12 and $26.  I decided on the chicken schnitzel which I looked forward to washing down with a pint of Zierholz. Unfortunately I never got that far.  After waiting half an hour for anyone to come to take my order I gave up and left.

As I enjoyed my grilled chicken BLT at Kingston Grind I couldn’t help being perplexed at why the Durham’s employees felt they were entitled to the privilege of driving the business into the ground.  So I rang them:

Durham Castle Arms: Good afternoon Durham Castle Arms how can I help you?

Ingeegoodbee: Hi, look I was wondering, are you guys open for lunch today?

Durham Castle Arms: Yes, yes we are, we’re open for lunch until 2.00pm

Ingeegoodbee: Is that the restaurant or the bar?

Durham Castle Arms: Both.

Ingeegoodbee: Is there table service in the restaurant or do you have to order at the bar?

Durham Castle Arms: It’s table service, sir.

Ingeegoodbee: Well then why the fcuk was I left sitting at a table for half an hour waiting for someone to take my order?

Durham Castle Arms: Sorry!

Ingeegoodbee: I said, why the fcuk was I left sitting at a table for half an hour waiting for someone to take my order?

Durham Castle Arms: Sorry!

At this point the whole thing started to feel strangely like that scene from Pulp Fiction when the petrified college kid in the chair can’t stop exclaiming “what!?!” while Samuel Jackson stands over him … I left them to keep chatting about whatever it was the they were doing.

So what, if any, is the etiquette for this? Apart from posting on RA to have a bitch.  Should the customer of an establishment be forced to meekly approach the bar and interrupt in order to get service? Am I being too hard on the staff who were obviously simply catching up on their long weekend exploits?  Is half an hour not long enough?

What’s Your opinion?


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62 Responses to
A Review of Sorts – The Durham Castle Arms
wonsworld 12:17 am 11 Jun 08

Long ago (as a know nothing 20 something) I stood for a considerable amount of time at my local bar waiting for service while the barmaid was chatting up some tourist. SO I went into the attached bottle shop and phoned my order in on the pay phone. Result was that me and 2 mates were banned from the pub for 3 months.

needlenose 12:03 am 11 Jun 08

The Hermitage? My experience was at Daniel’s in the Riverside Centre Brisbane. I was deeply impressed because it was probably the first mobile phone I’d ever seen – it was about the size of a Louis Vuitton travel trunk (and probably as expensive).

ant 11:20 pm 10 Jun 08

Ordering a pizza thing was done at that silly restaurant in the building with teh gold mosaic pillars, where the Civic Library used to be. Next to the Canberra Playhouse.

needlenose 10:41 pm 10 Jun 08

I’d suggest making the phone call from your mobile while you’re still at the table.

Tried that at Myer Belconnen once when I waited at a counter for ten minutes without the faintest glimpse of a sales person anywhere in a hundred-metre radius.

Quite effective, but I’m still disinclined to return.

Even more effective – use your mobile to order a pizza delivered to you at your table. I saw that done once in a silver service restaurant in Brisbane, to a round of applause from similarly famished patrons who wished they’d thought of it too.

Mælinar 10:34 pm 10 Jun 08

I’ve often eaten at the Durham (and drunk more than double), never had a problem.

If you just sat down and didn’t approach the bar, they probably thought you were homeless and were drawing straws who would kick you out and tell you to go bother Filthy’s.

mattyf 10:11 pm 10 Jun 08

I head over to the service area and have a discreet and friendly chat to find out what’s causing the hiccup. I give the venue every opportunity to explain and offer solutions. I make sure I do it then and there, that I’m speaking to the right person, and that any complaint is offered in a friendly and constructive way. Just people politely speaking with people really. Seems pretty basic to me.

Do that! 🙂

barking toad 9:20 pm 10 Jun 08

Why do you want to get a meal at a pub in the middle of the day?

Shouldn’t you just be there to hammer?

Danman 9:05 pm 10 Jun 08

I used to work there back in about 2000 (Regular rioters now know I am no longer a chef)
If you had a problem with the restaurant I barely think abusing the bar staff will pay dividends.

Josh, the manager and Bill, the owner, are extremely proud and if you would have approached them with your concern, I have no doubts that they would move to remedy.

If you do not mind, I would like to bring this thread to their attention, so they have a chance to explain and perhaps, restore faith.

I do know that the kitchen is run under tender though, so even though they are not to blame, its still a bad situation for their business.

And just for my own recourse, I have no affiliation with Durham Castle Arms.

ant 9:00 pm 10 Jun 08

Speaking to the manager never works. They get defensive and unpleasant and the whole thing is stressful. You go somewhere to spend some money, and for whatever reason they can’t even get the basics right.

It’s good there are forums like this to have a grumble about it. It’s more likely something’ll get done (or they’ll track you down and try to sue you… there’s a tyre chain I’ll never patronise again…).

bigred 8:28 pm 10 Jun 08

Didn’t know they did food. Thought it was a late night desperado destination if you lucked out elsewhere.

Thumper 7:44 pm 10 Jun 08

However, I also haven’t eaten a meal there in the middle of the day.

Thumper 7:12 pm 10 Jun 08

I never have a problem there and have been drinking there often for years.

Felix the Cat 6:38 pm 10 Jun 08

When I get bad service somewhere I just vote with my feet and leave and don’t come back and recommend to all my friends and collegues that they do likewise. IMO it’s hardly worth complaining to a manager type person, they are most likely just as useless as the staff they employ. If they were any good as a manager they wouldn’t let the problem occur in the first place. As Ingeegoodbee said, the place wasn’t packed out, the staff just appeared to be chatting about non-work-related issues.

PM 6:33 pm 10 Jun 08

I don’t know what the Durham’s like at lunch, but it’s a shame they couldn’t get to you. Hopefully your experience was a one-off lapse on their part. At least speaking to them would be feedback they can use in the future.

Were you in view of the staff? Perhaps the bloke on the end of the phone had thought the bar had been empty. It wouldn’t have been your fault, but it may explain the bloke’s apparent shock.

I’m not sure if approaching the bar is such a bad thing if you want to eat there in light of poor / slow service.

fabforty 6:19 pm 10 Jun 08

The etiquette is as follows. If you want to complain about something and actually be taken seriously, try asking for the owner/manager and explain calmly what happened and what you would like done to amend the situation in future.

Calling up anonymously and bullying the poor eighteen year old who happened to answer the phone isn’t going to get you anywhere. I’m just sorry they gave you the opportunity to repeat your abuse.

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