Up and down the land right now there are millions of people either recovering from their office party/meal/boozeathon or planning an onslaught of binge eating and drinking coming up in the next week or so. Like the modern stag do it is now considered wise to hold this event a while before the big day to allow for apologies to be made,forgiveness to be begged and hangovers to be cured. Also during the few days at work that follow this event,working relationships can either be restored,patched up or cemented meaning everyone can go home content in the knowledge that largely it has been a success. Also holding it in an environment away from the office itself means that the stationary cupboard is less likely to be troubled, mistletoe is very unlikely to be attached to the bosses belt loop and with the exception of the most mentally troubled its unlikely that anyones genitals are going to get photocopied. With all of this in mind it’s just over a week since my office party which contained all the vital ingredients of a good night out namely several seasoned drinkers who have promised in advance to get the others “royally pissed”, a restaurant that also had a comedy act for the night and no designated drivers so that everyone could let their hair down. Cally and me plus 2 other couples had booked rooms in a nearby holiday inn meaning we could get ready,get drunk and get there and back without the need for expensive cabs plus it was going to mean we could top and tail the evening with a few bevvies and generally get the party started as early as possible. So with an air of optimism and enthusiasm we set off for the short drive to the Bexley Holiday inn for what we hoped would be a night out that could be a highlight of the year.
After we checked in we were directed to our room which despite having the worlds softest bed also had an uninterrupted view of the A2. Now without resorting to quote the oft repeated line from fawlty towers where Basil sarcastically asks “well what do you expect to see…..” I should point out that 4 days prior we were also staying in a hotel room but on that occasion it had an uninterrupted view of palm trees and the Persian Gulf. As if coming home to a 30 degree temperature drop wasn’t bad enough this really was back to reality with a bump. However soon after checking in I received a text from Chris who suggested meeting in the bar to get our first drink in so a few moments later we were downstairs. As Chris was at the bar I said i’d go to reception to arrange a cab to get us to the venue and when I came back Chris was looking very pale indeed. It turns out that even in a holiday Inn 2 jack Daniel’s and cokes ,a Malibu and lemonade and a pint of Stella was £32! Tonight was going to be an expensive one! After taking our drinks back to our room frenzied efforts were doubled to get ready in time for the planned 7pm meet back in the bar. 4 different outfits were tried on before we settled on the right one for the night, make up was applied, hair was styled and restyled and shoes were selected. After that Cally got herself ready too.
So after a pre cab drink we were on our way to the Avenida restaurant in Welling.We arrived a bit earlier than everyone else so we headed to the bar and while at the bar we were to encounter Tony the manager for the first time. Now before I go on to tell the story of what went wrong that night I should paint a picture of what the Avenida is like. Basically it is a typical high street restaurant which has a ‘dancefloor’ of about 8 square feet, an area for a live band about the size of a family dinner table and about 10 long tables each capable of holding about 40 people so it’s a sizeable place. There were also about 5 very busy very overstreached waiters dressed in dinner jackets and bow ties darting from table to table delivering meals and drinks. Its not a particularly special place, nicely decorated but certainly not a stand out ‘meal of a lifetime’ type place.So back the bar and our first experience of Tony. Sandwiched between the door and the tables is a bar area so since it was nearly 20 minutes since the last drink and feeling a little parched we found an unoccupied part of the bar and were soon being served. While the barmaid was getting the drinks Tony came up to Chris and told him he was not to stand where he was and should move if he wanted to be served. When he was informed that we were already being served he just shrugged his shoulders and wandered off to meddle elsewhere. As all the others were beginning to arrive and desperate not to get lumbered with a massive bar bill at this stage of the night we began to take our place at our allocated tables and it was becoming clear that there were a few empty seats as some of our group had not turned up.
So as the evening progressed the stressed out waiters appeared with menus and we set about ordering the food. Once I’d put my order in I went up to the bar to get some more drinks and began to bring them back on a tray only to be confronted by Tony again who this time was not happy that I was carrying some drinks instead of allowing our waiter to do it. I wasn’t rude but I kind of ignored him and took the tray back to the bar. On my way back to the table Tony then informed me that I wasn’t appropriately dressed for the occasion despite wearing a t-shirt underneath an open shirt along with jeans and shoes so I very promptly told him what I thought of his opinion. Despite being made to feel uncomfortable by his comments and having to explain them to my friends and colleagues I just got on with our meal. After a short while our starters arrived, fresh out of their packet soon followed by our main course which for those who actually received them was prepared on the premises just for us by Aunt Bessie, Uncle Ben and Captain Birdseye. The food wasn’t particularly bad or good but if we had decided to eat at a harvester we would probably had a similar meal and it would have more matched our expectations than this place. Sara lee provided the desert. It was at about this time that I became aware that Peter, the organiser of our night out was disappearing out the back with Tony so I decided I’d go and find out what was going on. I went down a staff corridor and through a crack in the door could see cash being counted out but also quite a heated conversation taking place. After a few minutes it became clear that the manager was insisting that Peter should pay Tony £40 for each of those who had been unable to turn up i.e. £240. That was the final straw for me, I had watched while we had been told off off for standing at the bar in the wrong place, I had bitten my tongue when told how to dress, accepted that human error led to the forgetting of my meal and even looked on helplessly when we were told off for singing too loudly while joining in a chorus of ” happy birthday” for a guy on a different table but now my blood was about to boil and this guy needed bringing down a notch or two.
I’m not proud of the language I used when I took Tony to one side in his office but he was left very clear just exactly how I felt about him and his god awful hosting skills. I also left him very certain about how I take to being told how I should dress particularly at an office get together and especially as I was still at school the last time someone told me off for my appearance in a social gathering. I told him that while I understood he may have been out of pocket due to a few absentees it wasn’t our fault they hadn’t turned up so why should we have to pay their bill too. He told me that him and Peter had come to an agreement whereupon we as a group would pay £70 in order to in someway compensate him for the empty part of the table and I told him that he had a choice.I told him that I could give him the money myself, that the one person whom he felt was not worthy to be in his place due to how he was dressed, could make the payment but if I did I would write a very honest and detailed view of his crappy restaurant on every available website, I would write about it in my blog so even more people could see how awful it was and I would be telling anyone who cared to listen never to darken its door, or he could waive the money as a gesture of good will. He decided he wanted the money. So with that in mind, please take a few minutes to read my review by following the link: www.london-eating.co.uk/review-comments/231111.htm and also please make sure that if you are ever in Welling high street either ignore the AVENIDA restaurant completely or pop in, ask for Tony and call him a dick.