Do we crave an experience (or is it all about the food)?

Sitting on the train travelling to “the big smoke” on Saturday, I started contemplating why do I eat out so much? Surely I can buy the ingredients cheaper and with so many amazing videos on, transforming these into a tasty and well presented dishes is easier than ever! (Oh and I also have a dishwasher so I can’t blame the washing up). Then it hit me as I recalled my early morning visit to For those of you that know Temple Meads train station in Bristol, like many stations, it has a few food options. Everything from porridge to a pasty. However, I always decide to walk to the above mentioned place, which is down some metal stairs and across a car park, while humping my bags.”Please tell us why?” I hear you ask! Well, I am not going to disappoint you. In my opinion the “experience” is made up of several factors which all build our opinion of the venue such as menu, staff, atmosphere, service, food quality and of course price. Listed below are the three “emotional” outcomes of every potential visit on our food journeys.

Nailed it

You know when someone just gets it right from start to finish? Well, these unfortunately are few and far between, but fear not! As I have some great examples to share with you.

The have just recently opened in Clifton. We decided to pay it a visit, although we waited until all the excitement had died down, mainly so we could witness and hopefully enjoy the real experience and not the “we are new so everything and everyone is amazing”. Basically from entering The Ivy to leaving 2 hours later we felt like the most important people in there that night, obviously we weren’t but they just manage to make everyone feel like this. From the host to the cocktail staff to the menu and the atmosphere of the whole place, it just works and you know when you get your bill you think “thats cheaper than I thought”? Well, that’s because you had a wonderful experience and you don’t mind paying for it.

Other great places who just “nail it” every time are the and of course the ever reliable who prove you don’t need to be a restaurant to get it right.


Oh so close!

OK so this is always the toughest of the three outcomes that I have listed. Why is that? Well, so many parts of your visit might be right but for whatever reason something just goes wrong which leaves us disappointed and we all know what then happens right? Yep you got it! We then find fault with everything and before you know it “even the windows are a bit smudged so imagine what the kitchen is like”.

I have an amazing example to share with you. Myself and a colleague were eating out during the week  and the venue was warm and welcoming. The menu, although a little large and branded in content was good. The staff were pleasant and attentive and the food was better than expected. Well, here is where we then left unhappy. At 9.30pm we then asked for coffee (in my case black tea for those of you who know me and are now shouting at the screen, it just sounds cooler drinking coffee). We were informed that the coffee machine had just been switched off! Why we asked and yes you guessed right, to save on wages. That coffee machine must be some size. So we left feeling cheated and I personally have gone on to tell as many people as possible, they were “oh so close”.


Never at the races!

Well this could be a really long list of places in my opinion, which is such a shame as surely this should be the shortest list! How do these places stay open?!? When I started compiling this list there was something they all had in common. They were branded chain venues. I know there are some exceptions to the rule. How many can you think of? And what is it you think that makes that difference? In my opinion it’s down to one thing – leadership! That is a whole new sort of blog which I am not going to get into. However, when the leader of that business is the right person, it is a great venue to visit.

Plenty of places get it wrong even before you sit down in Bristol recently achieved this. They did that old “have you booked” and if you have read my previous blogs you know this is a pet hate. If I book a table I will let you know when I arrive. It seems to be impossible for them not to be completely smug when they turn you down, even though the place is only half full.

Then there was a time we got past the door in on the triangle in Clifton. We managed to find a booth (its an american style diner), were handed menus and when we came to order were told its only breakfast until 1pm!! Not brunch as you all know I love but breakfast, now you might think I am being a little picky but looking at my watch it was 12.50pm. Surely by the time we ordered and the waitress managed to inform the kitchen we would be pretty close to 1pm but no she said they were busy with people still ordering breakfast so she couldnt take our order. You guessed it we walked out and have never returned.

'There's a fifteen minute wait for people we like, and a forty five minute wait for people like you.'


We all work really hard and we deserve the finer things in life, and when it comes to food and eating out, it is clear we crave the experience as much the food. It’s now down to each establishment to provide the experience, so not only will we have a great time but we will return time and time again. Do not accept a venue who are not even at the races but maybe give a second chance to those who are oh so close. Any thoughts please share and don’t forget to follow me on instagram @bristolfoodluvver


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