Craft & Cleaver – or Not-So Clever…..

We love visited BBQ restaurants, and frequent Big Easy, Red Dog Saloon and Bodean’s fairly often when we can. So, I got really excited when I heard we were getting a ‘Brooklyn Style BBQ’ restaurant fairly locally to us, in Milton Keynes.

I read some of the opening reviews, which were mixed, but wanted to try for myself since I loved the look of the food.

We visited with friends on a Wednesday lunch time, so it was fairly quiet and it was just a few couples and some office-based traffic coming in.

The Atmosphere

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We had a friendly welcome, and the smell inside was just right. BBQ and wood! The decor was lovely and I’m always comforted by the sight of squeezy sauce bottles on the table!

We were welcomed and seated, and had a look at the menu.

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There’s a dedicated lunch menu, but we all chose from the main part of the menu as we were all quite hungry.

The Food & Drink

Two of us ordered the chargrilled lemonade which was home-made lemonade with a slight bbq taste to it. It was very tart at first sip but as the ice melted it became refreshing. I chose to have an Arnold Palmer (which is 50/50 iced tea and lemonade) It tasted fizzy to start with but then that went away. It shouldn’t be fizzy so that threw me to start with!

Two of us ordered burgers, one ordered a salad and another ordered a half rack of ribs.

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My order was a Naked and Proud burger, which came with 50/50 fries (half sweet potato and half potato), coleslaw and pickles.

The burger was two patties with mustard and tomato relish. The burgers were nice, however there wasn’t enough sauce paired with the amount of meat, and as such you couldn’t taste the relish or mustard. The fries were very nice, with a tasty seasoning on them. I don’t usually enjoy sweet potato but these were lovely. The coleslaw didn’t have much flavour and the pickles were odd. I was expecting gherkins or cucumbers but I got two bits of celery and two small chunks of carrot. They didn’t taste vinegary, but had an asian flavour to them which I couldn’t pinpoint and I don’t think went with the rest of the food.

I tried some of the BBQ sauce from the table. It was a very mild sauce, almost watery with a more tomato flavour than I expected, but it wasn’t bad.

I was told the ribs were dry and the salad barely had any dressing on it.

Having paid quite a lot for this food, we expected a little more.

This was were the trouble happened. We paid for the whole bill on one card, and the waitress hadn’t noticed there was no paper in the card machine. Not knowing how these machines work, we didn’t realise we had already been charged once when we were asked to put our payment through again, since she thought it hadn’t worked the first time. When the receipt didn’t print the second time, the waitress realised and told us we might have been charged twice.

She spoke with her manager and asked to take out details. We were to then check our account and if the amount had come out twice, come back to get a refund. We were told the manager was stressed, and so she couldn’t deal with it herself. We had noticed the managed wandering around looking stressed already, throughout our visit.

We checked, it had come out twice, and so we returned. On our return a couple of days later, our original waitress recognised us, apologised for the inconvenience and got her manager. The manager, and who I now assumed was the assistant manager who we’d seen walking around previously, stood for some time at the till point. We had shown them a text from our bank showing the two full amounts coming out of the account (including tip) and also shown them the recipt we were given for the second transaction. For some reason they decided to refund us in cash, even though our original transaction had been on card, so they had to split the refund between two tills, since I don’t think they had enough float to give a cash refund at that time. We were stood around for about 10 minutes waiting, whilst the waitress made small talk with us.

When we were handed our refund, we pointed out that we had also paid a tip on both transactions (and not a small one) and that they hadn’t refunded that. The manager told us point-blank there was nothing she could do. At no point did she apologise, or offer us any other kind of compensation for the original error, for us having to come back to get our refund, for the wait, or for us not getting our tip back. We were obviously an inconvenience to her day, and she clearly just wanted the issue dealt with and gone. I was FUMING.

I have since complained to Craft and Cleaver and they have confirmed our service should have been refunded and offered to refund it or give us some credit towards drinks on a future visit. We declined both. Needless to say this was a sour experience, and we won’t be returning. They also said they had taken steps to properly train their staff on refunds going forward which is a step in the right direction.

Incidentally, completely unprovoked, a friend told me about her bad experience there for her birthday dinner. Wrong orders cooked, inconsistent portion sizes, too little food for the cost, and plastic found in the food with no apology and no compensation.

It’s such a shame, that something that could have been so good ended up being pretty darn bad.

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