Today I was in Bristol and after a walk on the Harbourside I went to the Dockyard Café Bar.
From their website:
The Dockyard Café Bar is located alongside Brunel’s SS Great Britain and offers superb views on to the ship as well as across Bristol’s historic floating harbour.
Enjoy delicious light meals, snacks and drinks throughout the day; soak up the atmosphere on the waterfront terrace or inside literally watching the world sail by.
On offer daily are delicious soups, special dishes, Italian-style paninis and sandwiches freshly prepared on the premises.
Okay that’s the marketing spiel, what was the reality like?
The place is really quite nice and despite the fact it was a hot day, it was very cool inside. You could have chosen to sit outside if you wanted to.
It’s nice and open inside with lots of space, so it never feels crowded.
That’s the good stuff, however overall it was a bit of a disappointment.
First service, we sat inside and went to the counter to order… Despite there been about six or seven staff at front of house, only two seemed to be working! They had two staff who were taking orders, money, making the drinks and getting the orders together. Moving around these two were other staff who seemed to be doing nothing more than getting in the way.
There was quite a queue and as a result quite a wait to get served. It would have made more sense to me to use some of the staff to speed up the service.
Secondly the quality of the food was quite poor.
I was going to get a coffee, however the cups seemed very small, and though I don’t mind small portions of coffee, these were very much on the small side – like large espresso cups! So I went for a diet coke and it came in a glass bottle which is nice and I much prefer this over the post-mix you usually find in these kind of places.
I ordered sandwiches, a child’s meal and some chips.
The sandwiches were taken from the fridge, whilst we had to wait for the children’s meal.
These were not cheap at £3.50 each and were of a very poor standard. They tasted as though they were made with yesterday’s bread. Now that could be because they were made with yesterday’s bread, or had been left out for too long. Whatever the reason the bread did not taste fresh. Now if I make a sandwich from yesterday’s bread at home, that’s my choice, however when I go out to a cafe I expect my sandwich to be made with fresh bread.
The fillings were not generous, whilst the salad (if you can call five leaves and a slice of tomato a salad) looked as though it had seen better days.
It felt as though the manager doesn’t have children or understand that children don’t always like waiting, and like waiting even less if mum and dad have their food.
Though I felt overpriced, the children’s meal, at least the sandwich was fresh, though not quite sure what the balloon was doing in there!
So could they mess up the chips?
Yes they could.
They double-cooked them!
Basically the chips were cooked twice, so at some point the chips were cooked, left, and then when I placed my order, they were cooked again.
Overall I liked the ambience and the environment, however the food was plainly awful. I am glad I didn’t try the cooked meals.
This place has the potential to be so much better and I hope it can improve. Key steps are, use fresh ingredients and cook to order.
They should create and deliver a menu which reflects the legacy of Brunel and the SS Great Britain.