Saturday saw the final of the Wakefield Retail Awards 2014. We were in the specialist group along side two other shops of which I had never heard of as until the awards. I thought we had a really good shout at it but it wasn't to be. I knew who was going to win it and sure enough they did.
The idea of the awards is great. There is a huge talent pool of well run shops and services in the Wakefield district although the awards are very city centre centric. More of a boost in the speeches could be given out to the very independent retailers of Horbury, Outwood and Ossett.
The Space home of the Wakefield Beer Festival( CAMRA) and the Wakefield Festival of Beer (Roundtable) held the event. I've been to the venue many times as part of these festivals but never to a full off sit down event. Myself and the rest of team Bier Huis where looking forward to the night. Which then turned into one where we couldn't wait to leave.
We arrived just after 7 ready for the drinks reception which involved us going to the bar and paying for our own drinks. I would have expected a small glass of something as we arrived. Oh well maybe we get something with the dinner? Nope!
Despite being the home of two beer festivals the choice of beer at the venue is awful so it was a wine night. and yes before anyone asks I have tried to get them to use our cask ale pump hire and barrel package. it was a massive "No thanks!!!!" That was the actual email reply.
We grabbed our table and made our introductions to the rest of the table. Bit of small talk before the dinner. We knew the menu, the standard venue menu used across the UK.
For starters it was Pate with salad. It had a nice fruity jelly top and the pate was nice if not a little foamy. This is when things started to fall apart on our table. One of the other members of table was Gluten and Dairy free meaning that the choice of starter was a no go. It had been made aware when booking and was known when serving that this fellow had different requirements to the rest of us. So what arrived was a mozzarella cheese salad. Of course this was sent back via the manager of the venue. Pointing out the error of the kitchen team and that a mistake like shouldn't happen. He ended up missing out on starters as there was nothing else.
After waiting ages for the main course to arrive it finally turned up this was Roast Chicken in wine wine and tarragon sauce, Roast Potatoes, Seasonal veg and Yorkshire pudding.
What arrived was Dry chicken breast with chicken OXO with a good chunk of tarragon, Frozen Aunt Bessie style roast potatoes, Carrots & green beans and a tough as cardboard aunt Bessie Yorkshire pudding.
We tucked in unimpressed while on the other side of the table all hell was about to kick off. The lad who is gluten and dairy free plate arrived complete with Yorkshire pudding they did mange not to put the gravy on. Once again the manager was grabbed and the plate sent back again with a word about how on earth a chef could mess this up. A brand new plate arrived and you could see the manager getting more and more wound up.
Then another lad simply got up plate in hand. I could see from across the table that it was undercooked and very pink. Everyone was wondering what was going on "his chicken is not cooked" I told everyone. He arrived back the manager of the venue followed soon after telling them that the chef says it's cooked. He asked for his plate to show everyone it was refused. the shambolic service and catering was discussed and the group were told to leave if they didn't like it. Amazing we are at the retail awards and yet the venue manager was the rudest and unhelpful catering/venue manager I had ever met. This is something that might come from an awful restaurant or some poor untrained staff not one of the major venues in the city. They had to go and see the organisers to sort the mess out. Of which followed a heated debate with them and the management of the venue.
Most of the food was left it was awful.
Pudding followed Apple Pie and cream this was cold apple pie from costco. Nothing to write home about and again it was left by most of the table.
How much did we pay for this? Well this wasn't even pub grub style Sunday lunch from an awful pub. It was worse. £36 a head. The food must have been £5 worth if that.
Onto the awards at this point we are way behind schedule. Claire Frisby from Look North was the host and she did a great job. To the relief of no doubt all the award winners you didn't have to give a speech. Some very good and well deserved winners along with some fab runners up.
The awards were wound up and a disco followed sadly like a lot of people that's when we up sticks and left. To spend a couple of hours sat out the hop where I sampled some wonderful rat brewery white rat.
I hope it runs next year, I hope it becomes more a district night rather than city centre based and hopefully it will be held some where else.