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Nancy Murphy’s, Enniskerry: “It’s not my fault,” says the manager

Nancy Martin's pub, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow: one of the most unpleasant meals I've ever had

Nancy Muphy's pub, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow: one of the most unpleasant meals I've ever had

I’m done with not complaining in restaurants. When the cream in a friend’s recent Irish coffee was horribly sour, she was reluctant to send it back – it was just so embarrassing. So I did it for her.

I thought I’d figured out the trick: don’t take the problem personally. They didn’t pour in rancid cream to spite the customer. Instead of a pompous “how very DARE you serve ME sour cream”, simply state the objective facts.: “Excuse me, the cream in this coffee is sour.” The staff were rightly apologetic, the coffee was replaced, and taken off the bill. Problem solved.

Nancy Murphy’s pub

I thought I had complaining all figured out. But a recent experience at Nancy Murphy’s “gastropub” in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, left me lost for words (at the time at least – I have a few choice ones now). I ordered the fish and chips with mushy peas, one of those simple dishes that’s usually a good indicator of a kitchen’s skill. The €14.95 price tag seemed pretty steep, so I was hoping for something special.

What was banged down on my table was very far from what I had ordered. Lo and behold – there were no mushy peas. No explanation. The hot fish was instead served on a bed of lettuce, which was almost wilted before I called the waitress over. Her back was already up before I got to say “excuse me”. I asked if the peas were on their way, and was told that the kitchen was out of mushy peas. “Sorry about that,” she muttered as she walked away.

Hot fish - served on a bed of cold, wilted lettuce. Ugh.

Hot fish - served on a bed of cold, wilted lettuce. Ugh.

The problem

Sorry, hold on. I called her back – again – explaining that I had ordered fish, chips, and mushy peas from their very extensive menu because that is what I had wanted. If I had known there were no mushy peas, I wouldn’t have ordered it.

The very unfriendly waitress then informed me that they didn’t know that they had run out of mushy peas until the fish and chips were ready to serve. Nothing she could do. Too late now. “It’s not my fault,” she said.

I was genuinely astonished. Of course it’s not your fault, I responded. But you’re my waitress, so you’re the person I have to complain to. Could I see the manager?

I am the manager, she said. Then she cast a disinterested look over her shoulder, before explaining that she wasn’t really the manager – just in charge tonight.

Customer service

This really isn’t good enough, I said. I had to ask, repeatedly, what she planned to do about it. Clearly, nothing. She could replace it, but I’d still pay full price for the meal. She could bring a bowl of peas, but of course my meal – and my friend’s – would go cold while I waited. She could take one drink off the bill, but I was drinking tap water and my friend was having a Coke. If “you want” an extra free drink, she told me, she would have to talk to the bar manager. And he was busy, apparently, even though the bar had very few customers, so I’d have to wait about ten minutes for my complaint to be resolved. “Do you really want to wait ten minutes?” she asked.

I’ve never been so close to flinging a plate across the room and leaving. The waitress/ “manager” was  completely disinterested in my complaint. This was a really contemptible way to treat a customer. Sadly, there was nobody else to complain to. The meal wasn’t even nice: the batter was stodgy and unpleasant and the fish was bland. My friend’s Cajun chicken burger (€8.95) had about as much cajun flavour as chicken chow mein. It was dry, boring, and forgettable.

Resolution

In the end, they served me a bowl of petis pois with mint – which in fairness, were nicer than the fish or the chips. That’s about the best thing I can say about Nancy Murphy’s pub. Oh, and they reluctantly took one drink off the bill. Other restaurants – Gotham Cafe comes to mind – would have taken the fish and chips meal off the bill.

This was just about the worst customer service, and one of the worst meals, I’ve ever experienced. I won’t be going back ever again, to eat, drink, or otherwise.

27 Comments

  1. Wow, this is one of the most egregious examples of bad service I’ve ever heard. Fair play for keeping your cool. How could she say it wasn’t her fault? She should’ve verified before putting in the order that they had mushy peas and asked you what you wanted instead when they didn’t. Plus, she was in charge, so everything that goes wrong there is her fault! That’s one gastropub I won’t be eating in.

  2. Fair play for complaining! I find it difficult to also, but as you so rightly pointed out, if its done nicely then the restaurant should be more than happy to get the feedback and ensure you are a happy customer.
    I had an experience recently where I ordered roast lamb, with no potatoes, only veg. It came with two little dishes which contained ONE floret of broccoli and 3 carrot batons each-clearly I had been given double veg as I hadnt ordered potatoes-but the overall amount was laughable. I was so shocked I just ate it within 5 seconds. My companions were unhappy with the quantity of their veg lasagne (they felt the dish was very shallow) and were upset it didnt contain veg (only lentils) in the sauce. Now we complained but only after our meal was over (which was very quickly!). Our waiter said he would make it up to us with dessert but he didnt make it clear that the desserts would be on the house, so we didnt order, fearing wasting more money! Anyway, we met him out in the pub later, he insisted on buying us all a drink (despite multiple protests) and explained to us that we should have complained as soon as we got our meal, not after, that they dont put out too much veg as they have to throw so much of it out so we should have asked for more at the time and of course he meant the desserts would be on the house.
    I suppose Ive learned to complain when they can actually do something about it & maybe he has learned to be more explicit about what they will do to make up for the problem. The restaurant remains nameless as I feel it wouldnt be fair to criticize it when I feel I should have given them the chance to rectify the issue earlier. Anyway, complain to ensure better service and quality for customers and to allow restaurants to improve their standards and stay in business!

  3. 10 years ago, when I had just moved to Ireland, I went for a meal out with Irish friends and ordered chicken wings. The waitress brought me a chicken salad and said no word. I asked her what that was, she replied in a bored tone that it was chicken salad (noooooooo? Really?). When I mentioned that I had ordered chicken wings, she said there were none left, so they gave me chicken salad instead (and will you just shut up and eat, that’s chicken!). Of course, I sent it back, asking to see the menu so I could choose myself, thank you very much. The horrified looks of my fellow diners said it all. What had I done! Complain? I mean, in a restaurant? Now, they would certainly spit on our food or worse even, give us the evil look!

    So glad things have changed and people feel more confident about complaining. As you point out, there is a way to do it that is neither arrogant nor apologetic. After all, a restaurant’s business is tied to their customers’ satisfaction. There is nothing worse for a business than people leaving the place saying nothing and then bitching to their friends how bad the restaurant / shop / hotel is.

  4. Met with two friends in the Kudos restaurant in The limerick Clarion on Monday. My Nasi Goreng was not acceptable (tasteless, sour, and had suffered from a very heavy encounter with the microwave), i complained and my friend complained about his asian soup (tasteless and full of starchy filler). The waitress listened to us carefully without a lot of defending and offered replacemets. We were not charged for either.
    Waitress did a good job but that hotel is a good example of a builder/developer project that is struggling to deliver a positive customer experience. Soulless.

  5. That is shocking. Thanks for the head’s up on Nancy Murphy’s – I will avoid it in future on the basis of your experience alone!

  6. That service was terrible but unfortunately not uncommon. I’m delighted people are starting to speak up on bad service/quality but I think we still have some way to go. Too many restaurants/business handle complaints so badly.

    I was once out with a friend in Dublin for dinner when I was served severly undercooked chicken (I was around 7 months pregnant at the time) and when I calmly and politely pointed the problem out to the waitress my friend actually told me that she was really embarrassed that I complained!

  7. I have no problem complaining and also feel once it is done to the right person in the right tone most places respond accordingly. Funny how some people are still “embarrased” when their dinner partner complains. This I must admit agitates me. Going out for dinner is a treat and I prefer to seek resolution rather than sit there grumbling into the ear of my dinner guest while my stomach sulks, I rather move-on and enjoy the evening.

  8. Thanks for this important review, it is important to complain when there is a problem. But how can you “run out” of mushy peas… just open another tin!

    This story is about completely indifferent service, which we tend to avoid by patronising those restaurants where we get good service. Do folks who work in eateries like this have any sense that there is a recession on, and they need to try harder? Hopefully the owner of the establishment will get to hear about this incident and remedy staff attitudes!

  9. SeanR – you’re right, I was kind of baffled by this too. They probably make their own, in which case all they needed were some peas, mint and creme fraiche. Or open a tin of Batchelor’s – just as good and often nicer. They just weren’t bothered.

  10. You still paid?! Im stunned. I would have left my adress and asked them to send me the bill. If they cant resolve your complaint until the “real” manager is working, then you cant pay until you hear their solution.

  11. Did you think about contacting the ”real manager” the next day and relating what happened? Obviously the waitress wasn’t competent to deal witha fairly simple problem. It would have been interesting to see what the manager said.

  12. The manager has been in touch to apologise and we have encouraged him to leave a comment here so that his side of the story can be heard – hoping to hear from him soon.

  13. LOL I wish I was somewhere near Enniskerry so I could make a point of NOT going to that place :P I don’t eat out a huge amount but I always read the reviews on sites like this because it’s good to get an honest, straightforward opinion of pub food etc because you never know when you might be passing through a place and just be dying for something daycint to eat!

  14. Wouldn’t beleive it for a second… I’ve been to Nancy Murphys 3 or 4 times and nothing like this has ever happened to me. I think this lady might be attached to another restaurant. She says that she didn’t get your mushy peas? So why is her friend eating a huge bowl of Mushy peas in the picture? I had the Cajun chicken burger last night in Nancy Murphys it comes standard this a Baked patato or chips and mixed veg. No Mushy peas, they come with the fish…

    As I said already “wouldn’t beleive it for a second”

    I would say the truth is that someone was looking for a free meal??? Judge this for yourselves

  15. Alan, you haven’t read the piece properly. Also those aren’t mushy peas in the picture.

  16. Cheek of you… thinking I haven’t read your fairytail wrong. I was sparing your feelings when I wrote what I wrote last night. You see if you say it’s not about Mushy peas that it was about the girl serving you then I will laugh so hard you’ll hear it. How could it not be about mushy peas. Thats what made you call the girl over int he first place… Unless you didn’t call her over… And this was all made up in your head??? Plus if your saying thats not mushy peas in the picture your friend has one hell of a synus problem… The truth will set you free…

  17. Alan:

    1) You called the reviewer ‘she’, but the piece was written by a man, who is named at the top of the piece
    2) You said that the cajun burger doesn’t come with mushy peas, but if you’d read the piece properly you would have seen that the complaint was made about mushy peas not arriving with the fish & chip dish.
    3) I didn’t say that the piece is not about mushy peas, I was responding to what you said about the picture showing a bowl of peas (which it doesn’t, it’s salad) in your comment above.

    You’re not even following your own comments properly, let alone what I say, so I’m not going to argue with you any more about this.

  18. Who’s arguing….

    Your comment
    1) You called the reviewer ‘she’, but the piece was written by a man, who is named at the top of the piece
    My Responce
    1. I was a huge fan of this site till I read this… Man / Women or Website I think it’s lies.

    Your Comment
    2) You said that the cajun burger doesn’t come with mushy peas, but if you’d read the piece properly you would have seen that the complaint was made about mushy peas not arriving with the fish & chip dish.
    My resopnce
    2. The mushy peas did arrive… the person eating the cajun burger is eating them??? “as I said they don’t come with the cajun burger”… So did this person pick them up off another table??? No they took them from there friend… This is the basis in which this person had there arugment with the waiting staff. You did get them… Your friend is eating them……. Thats why I don’t beleive this happened.

    Look I’m not arguing, as far as I’m concerned this is a very nice place with good food. Peter might want to try reviewing somewhere with a clown as the logo… But then he might spit the dummy if he finds a toy in his food… “spoiled the whole experance” Said it before and I’ll say it again “looking for something for free”

  19. Give it up Alan, you are making an eegit out of yourself.

  20. Was passing by here today, and went in for a bite to eat.
    Had the best pub grub in a long time. If I had read this before hand I would have just passed on by.

    Staff and food were great.

    Value was also great… Starter and main course for €14 with a drink. I think that’s good value.

  21. Hi, I have been in Nancy Murphy’s quite a few times, I have always found the waitresses extremely helpful and obliging. The offers are great, the food tasty and the welcome warm, and no I’m not a native from Enniskerry … I’m from the UK.
    I find the above article very hard to believe…. I would recommend that people try it for themselves and not walk past making some kind of pointless protest (how old???) and form your own opinion…. Baaaaa!

  22. Just been reading the all the reviews on Nancy murphys enniskerry and I am shocked,the first thing i noticed is it’s not lettuce it’s rocked salad, the critic does not even know the difference basic.I have eaten dozens of times in nancys with groups of tourists and not once have we had a problem with food or service it is probably this best in Wicklow ,when you read some of the upstarts making comments it disgusts me because the critic seems to be a spanner and it is all about free food power tripping free publicity and it teribly wrong to judge like this and most of the time critics force the errors with bad attitude and bad manners ,I don’t think this is fair.

    Ps I get the impression the critic is a young lad early twenties get a life

  23. My God, now someone is not allowed to recount an unfavourable experience in a restaurant without getting such vitriolic responses? Guys, if Peter was looking for a freebie he could just have refused too pay but he didn’t! Even the best of restaurants have off days and it seems that Nancy’s did indeed have an off period that day. Peter is entitled to tell us about his experience. As for Paul’s response on Nov 19th, so what it the critic is ‘a young lad early twenties’ – is it only older people who have something useful to say?

  24. jazz i completely agree,everywhere has off days….and slating peter for giving an honest review is crazy!!! seriously people,get a grip!!! if anything cheapeats is the most accurate and honest reviewer ive come across unlike some overpaid food critics ;)

  25. Yes I agree that every body ,has to have their say but I just feel that people have made comments and have not eaten their and it’s wrong I actually went back last night to nancys and had a t bone steak this place is top class ,and I went one further and spoke to owner Keith manning who was very pleasant and said he did make contact with cheap eats through email ,I also spoke to Rachel the waitress involved at the time and I got a different side to the story, and I was right she said the critic was extremely rude on the day and made her very nervous .I don’t think this web site has any credibility any more it seems to be more like an advertising site for food products .

    I point I want to make is we all have to be more flexible when eating out, companies have to staff down in these though times so they can get caught out so be patiant.

    I have just looked at a review tis guy made on a restaurant they all went to 15 people and guess what they all ordered of the lunch menu 9 euros a head and bragging the it was after 6 o’clock in the evening pure disgusting tondo that to any restaurant and I would say the restaurant knew who he was and was afraid of his shit to say no this per bullying in a commercial way and this is abuse of power and I might even go to this restaurant and see what their position is on this matter

  26. The number of comments left here with fake email addresses, that attack the veracity of this particular review and make ill-informed personal comments about the reviewer and this site in general is becoming suspicious.

    As I said above, the manager got in touch a while back to apologise, and we appreciated that very much. At no point did he deny that what Peter described above had happened. We offered him the right to reply, saying that we would publish his side of events if he wanted us to do so. He has not taken us up on that offer as yet.

    It is both frustrating and a waste of our time to have to refute claims made by people who can’t even read reviews properly, so I will do it one last time only and then I will close the comments on this post for good.

    The commenter Paul above is referring to the review that I (not Peter) wrote of the Hop House where I mentioned that they gave us the lunch menu at 6pm. Firstly, their lunch menu is available till 5pm, so they only extended it a small amount. Secondly, it was a colleague of mine who organised the meal and made the booking and CheapEats was not mentioned to the restaurant at any time. It was offered voluntarily, probably for the same reason that many restaurants have early bird menus – because they’re not usually busy at 6pm. Thirdly, I said in the review that it was very generous of them to do so, and that the meal was great.

    I am now closing the comments on this post because it looks to me like people are commenting because of associations with the named establishment. I don’t mean to suggest that Nancy Murphy’s have asked anyone to do this – it’s possible that people mistakenly think they are helping by leaving a load of ill-informed and rude comments. The offer to publish a right to reply from Nancy Murphy’s still stands, and all the manager has to do is send us an email.

    And once more – if you can’t disagree with us or other commenters without using insults, you are a troll and you will be blocked.

    Update: we received a reply from the owner of Nancy Murphy’s, but are unable to publish it on legal advice.