Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By G-BLEW
#766360
An old school friend who now lives in Australia is currently visiting the UK. We'd arranged to meet at Southend, and rather than spend all day on the 'Thames Estuary Beach' I thought we'd head to Le Touquet and try out the all new Escale (the airport restaurant) as mentioned by Duncan here.

Before I get to the restaurant I just want to mention a couple of other things...

1. I haven't landed at Southend for quite a few years, but everyone from ATC, to the refuellers, to the people behind the desk were very friendly and efficient. What a great facility, even if it is in the wrong place. As I got out of the aeroplane a student was just taxiing out for his first solo, always something great to see.
2. After making sure that my friend had his passport I told him that I couldn't remember the last time I saw a customs officer at Le Touquet. A few seconds after landing in Le Touquet three armed customs officers came to check my documents! Not a peep for years and then twice already this year (once in Calvi and now in Le Touquet). They were friendly and professional, but all my papers were in order. They told me that they were heading over to try the new restaurant too. Incidentally, instead of a helicopter these officers had their own C206.

To the restaurant...

We arrived at about 13.15 local time and had a quick look at the set menu (€9.90)

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Inside it's now bright, modern and aviation themed

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We waited for someone to talk to us, but they were very busy (The customs team had got there first!). We waited a bit longer, and then a bit longer. Another couple walked in and the chap who looked like a head waiter seated them. This left us wondering what we were doing wrong. Eventually someone spoke to us and offered us a seat outside.

We waited outside for quite a while before our drinks order was taken. Surprisingly there was no bottled water (still or sparkling) available. We then ordered with two of us going for the set menu 1 x goats cheese salad, 1 x bulots, followed by 2 x agneau parmentier (shepherds pie) and Mrs Blew going for grilled crab and then chicken from the main menu.

We then waited a very long time before our food arrived. By a long time I mean 45 minutes. A waiter came to the table with our main course, but took it away when we pointed out politely that we hadn't yet had our starters. 15 mins later the starters arrived, but they'd got the order wrong (two salads, no bulots). By now we were bored of waiting so kept the salad.

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The goats cheese salad was OK but the salad bit was a handful of iceberg (it was from the cheap menu), and the crab a bit stodgy and dry. Mrs Blew would have preferred not to have bits of shell in her crab meat.

We then waited for ages again (another 45 minutes at least) before our mains arrived. Out of the three dishes, just one was right. Instead of the agneau parmentier we were given lamb kebabs. We mentioned this and they were taken away. Ten minutes later we got our parmentier, although rather than a traditional parmentier the meat looked very much like it had recently been a lamb kebab.

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The shredded kebab, sorry parmentier was OK, and the chicken was average.

We decided not to wait for the coffee, but to ask for 'l'addition' - which was wrong when it came (they'd charged us for four meals instead of three). The (corrected) total was €55 and the two course meal had taken two hours.

It was, as you can probably guess, disappointing. I've eaten a couple of times in their other restaurant (Ricochet) and have found it excellent. Today, L'Escale mixed bad service with average food. With a huge number of restaurants a short walk/taxi/cycle ride away in a nice town, L'Escale will need to get it sorted out sooner rather than later.

I hope it works out for them, and that today was unusual but Mrs Blew has already declared that she won't be bothering to return.

Ian
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By PeteSpencer
#766370
Ian: that's disappointing:

I normally only use L'Escale when I'm just using LFAT as a customs stop before venturing further. For LFAT day trips I always go into town and from what you say I won't be altering this habit.

As a matter of interest were they aware of Mrs Blew's nationality or were you keeping it under wraps?

In which case you got the froideur occasionally reserved for Brits in France.

Peter
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By G-BLEW
#766372
As a matter of interest were they aware of Mrs Blew's nationality or were you keeping it under wraps?


No, Mrs Blew's nationality was not being hidden in any way

Ian
User avatar
By Iceman
#766381
I'll be giving this place a miss then - there's just too many other good Le Touqs restaurants.

Iceman 8)
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By Hawkwind
#766386
Maybe next time stay in Southend and try somewhere local? You may be surprised, there are some very reasonable eateries about.

A few ideas from the top of my head:

http://www.theploughandsail.co.uk/ About a 15 minute taxi ride away, you wouldn't think it could be anywhere near to Southend, very rural. Run by the Oliver family (as in Jamie Oliver's rellies).
http://www.roslinhotel.com/menus.php Overlooks the estuary, east of the pier.
http://www.sandsbistro.co.uk/location.html Overlooks the estuary, just west of the pier.
By Paul Incognito
#766391
I'll have those lights when the restaurant closes :twisted:

Forgot all about this restaurant today and seeing as I arrived just after Ian, quite glad too. Had a very nice beef steak, followed by a stroll down to the beach and a cab ride back - and still managed to get away before Ian.

I thought L2K was remarkably busy for a week day.

One complaint (not the airport, the town in general). Two 500ml bottles of fizzy drink - 7 Euros! Even at the good rate of old, that's well over £2 each - at today's rate, £3.10 per bottle!
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By Keef
#766392
If you're talking Southend area restaurants...
No, no contest for Le Touq ones.

The Cherry Tree isn't bad, either.
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By PaulB
#766424
G-BLEW wrote:A few seconds after landing in Le Touquet three armed customs officers came to check my documents! [...] Incidentally, instead of a helicopter these officers had their own C206.


We were met in Dijon a few weeks ago. These officers arrived shortly after us in a Cessna twin. Again very professional, all papers in order. They seemed to be training some junior people as they explained everything they did to them. After they finished, they departed, and we did soon after.

PAul
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By Adrian
#766432
Could we have a "G-BLEW's Dinners" section in Flyer?

:D
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By G-BLEW
#766437
Could we have a "G-BLEW's Dinners" section in Flyer?


I can see a small restaurant column making its way into QSY from time to time :-)

Ian
#766477
It is disappointing that the new restaurant does not meet expectations, but it is newly opened and there are bound to be teething troubles.

There is no excuse for consistently bad service but I hope someone (maybe me) will give it another go in a month or so to see if things have approved.
User avatar
By scuderia
#766523
Lets hope it was just a bad hair day. I will defintely give it a go. I wonder if they would consider doing a voucher scheme for pilots( BOGOF's, main course for a euro etc.) to capture some initial market share in light of your experience?
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By PeteSpencer
#766550
Are you going to write to them from your perspective as proprietor of the UK's premier Flying Magazine?

Might elicit a response...........

Peter
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By G-BLEW
#766619
I'll drop them an email pointing out the URL. I too hope that it was just a bad day, and look forward to someone else trying it out.

Ian