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wortley

Never again - Armorique restaurant

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Bassman, did you really mean 'aesthetic'? She won't eat meat because it doesn't look right or is badly presented? Or did you mean 'ethical'?

 

I do agree with you about the smell which can be quite off-putting at lunch and dinner times but doesn't bother me at all at breakfast. I think we are going to find that the quality varies greatly from vessel-to-vessel and even from crew-to-crew so it will be difficult to pinpoint where the quality problems lie but we should be able to get a good overview of people's experiences.

 

In a similar vein, does anyone know if BF do specific Christmas-style lunches on board at this time of the year? I don't recall seeing anything before (except for the now defunct Xmas cruises) but would be interested to know. Ed

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I am afraid that our last two experiences of eating in the self service restaurants have been terrible. As you enter there are some glossy pictures of the plates of food. These are so far from the truth that they should be reported to the Advertising Standards Agency. I feel standards have been allowed to slip over the last few years. The management must see what is happening but we the travellers are accepting it without jcomplaint. Let's all look at the pictures at the entrance and what we get served. A few comparative photos posted on line may help improve the situation.

 

I'll have a look at the pictures on MSM next Sunday but most menu options are now shown visually on screens in the self service seating areas and reflect the menu on offer on that particular crossing. Having travelled regularly with BF since 1986 I have to disagree with your comment about standards dropping; the self service option is neither better nor worse and everyone is entitled to their opinion of whether it's good value for money or not.

 

As I've said before on this forum I always have a starter, either the prawns or salmon salad which are excellent, steer clear of fish and chips, burgers and now even the steak for mains but go for any of either Boeuf Bourguignon, filet mignon de porc (pork fillet), leg of lamb or lamb shank, chicken curry if available and just occasionally a really good Cassoulet. And the the big improvement is you pay for the whole lot at the till (to get the CV discount) and one of the waiting staff brings you a piping hot main course when you are ready.

 

Where I agree with Gareth is that the posh restaurant main courses can be hit and miss whichever vessel you are travelling on, but wherever you happen to eat, if you're not happy with the fare on offer tell the staff there and then and normally they'll happily change it/ heat it up for you, rather than suffer in silence and moan about it later.

 

Chris

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Thank you everyone. I was the one who started this thread three months ago and am pleased that so many of you have commented.

 

But my original point was not about the quality of the food - it was about the style of the dining arrangements. The company makes much of running Cruise Ferries, but this self service canteen is school meals style, not cruise ferry style. I go to restaurants all over France where a waiter brings a menu and takes my order. I sit at pavement cafes all over France where a waiter asks what I would like, and brings my drinks. I am old and reasonably well off. I don't carry trays about to find a place to sit at a bare Formica topped table, and I won't be using the cafeteria on Armorique again.

 

Money saved by me, and money lost by the company.

Edited by wortley

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Thank you everyone. I was the one who started this thread three months ago and am pleased that so many of you have commented.

 

But my original point was not about the quality of the food - it was about the style of the dining arrangements. The company makes much of running Cruise Ferries, but this self service canteen is school meals style, not cruise ferry style. I go to restaurants all over France where a waiter brings a menu and takes my order. I sit at pavement cafes all over France where a waiter asks what I would like, and brings my drinks. I am old and reasonably well off. I don't carry trays about to find a place to sit at a bare Formica topped table, and I won't be using the cafeteria on Armorique again.

 

Money saved by me, and money lost by the company.

 

I agree the thread has moved on somewhat from your original point but that might be because some people (myself included) are prepared to forgive the actual eating environment if the quality of the food on offer is of a high enough standard. I appreciate that for you as an older traveller it may be too basic a set up but for those travelling with young kids you can't get enough wipe-down surfaces. Trying to find a compromise on a ferry that has to balance all those needs will never be easy. I'm sure that if you have difficulty carrying your meal to your seat a member of the cleaning and catering staff will happily help you or you might like to contact the customer services department and suggest they invest in some of the special trolleys they have in IKEA restaurants where you can stack two or more trays one above the other. You say you won't be using the cafeteria again. What alternative do you therefore envisage? Ed.

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I agree the thread has moved on somewhat from your original point but that might be because some people (myself included) are prepared to forgive the actual eating environment if the quality of the food on offer is of a high enough standard. I appreciate that for you as an older traveller it may be too basic a set up but for those travelling with young kids you can't get enough wipe-down surfaces. Trying to find a compromise on a ferry that has to balance all those needs will never be easy. I'm sure that if you have difficulty carrying your meal to your seat a member of the cleaning and catering staff will happily help you or you might like to contact the customer services department and suggest they invest in some of the special trolleys they have in IKEA restaurants where you can stack two or more trays one above the other. You say you won't be using the cafeteria again. What alternative do you therefore envisage? Ed.

My last trip on Arm, the knd lady at the till offered to help me carry my tray as I had recently fallen and was trying to balance my bag and tray with a lot of difficulty due to pain and limited movement. In cases like this I am sure they will assist, but if it is purely down to being below oneself to carry a tray, well, sorry, but not a good enough reason to criticise a restaurant. Waitered tables are all very well and good but they are not the be and end alll.
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Bringing your main to your table for you is part of the standard offering on Armorique - in fact I believe there are even signs informing customers of this at the entrance to the self-service. And my experience is that they will happily go above and beyond this if necessary - when we go through with 2 kids they almost always offer to carry our trays to the table for us.

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Bassman, did you really mean 'aesthetic'? She won't eat meat because it doesn't look right or is badly presented? Or did you mean 'ethical'?

 

I do agree with you about the smell which can be quite off-putting at lunch and dinner times but doesn't bother me at all at breakfast. I think we are going to find that the quality varies greatly from vessel-to-vessel and even from crew-to-crew so it will be difficult to pinpoint where the quality problems lie but we should be able to get a good overview of people's experiences.

 

In a similar vein, does anyone know if BF do specific Christmas-style lunches on board at this time of the year? I don't recall seeing anything before (except for the now defunct Xmas cruises) but would be interested to know. Ed

 

I meant "aesthetic" because she has a dislike of the texture and smell of meat. She also can't stand tea. Weird.

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Thanks Bassman. That's a new one on me, but each to their own. We often hear that all but the most committed vegetarians have a weakness for the smell of fried bacon. Your wife must be the exception to that rule. I can understand why you would appreciate the sit-down restaurant as the smells from the kitchen will all be kept behind closed doors. Ed

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I've never felt that I'm in a "school canteen " when I'm eating onboard the Armorique just because the table has a wipe clean top and no one takes my order or serves me I'm usually having a pretty decent meal and a reasonably price glass of red, and yes I still regard her as a cruise ferry , emphasis on ferry , but she has decent cabins, decent choice of food and drink , so I'm happy with that and as I've stated before she's a lot cheaper to sail on than Bretagne which suits me and probably a lot of other customers oh and she had friendly helpful staff.

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I really rather doubt whether much, if anything, is pre-cooked and reheated. The evidence comes in the form of some of the experiences recounted above plus the vicissitudes of long-ish crossings, with weather sometimes leading to extended time at sea.

 

Most of us would agree that the main course can sometimes be a bit of a lottery, but in a way it's a bit like banqueting. How often have any of us had a truly memorable banqueting experience? I've had loads of truly forgettable ones.

 

I'm quite sure that things like fish are 'batch-cooked' and if you happen to get one of the last of that batch, then it may have been sitting for half an hour under a lamp waiting to be garnished and sent out.

 

Mrs G recently had a rissotto on the PA and there's no way that it had been cooked to order + it showed. She accepted that it wasn't the smartest choice.

 

On the other hand, we both had lamb fillet on the Bretagne and it was as good as anything we have had with BF for years. It was always going to be a popular choice, probably a dozen or more servings from a large cut which was (effectively) cooked to order.

 

​A Risotto is something that cant be prepared in the expected time scale of a restaurant. When ordering, think how long something will take to prepare and cook. If under 10-15 mins I would expect cooking to order, any longer and it will at least be part prepared ready to finish off, or more likely pre cooked to warm up. Items "from the grill" are always a safe bet for freshly cooked

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W The buffets when available are fine but some of the main course offerings are questionable. One cannot but think that the catering management has been given a brief to come up with dishes that are flashy but contain cheap ingredients. We laughed at their comedy deconstructed risotto a couple of months ago, and more recently their so-called ravioli which appeared to consist of some small unfilled pasta squares sitting on a vast salad ...

I had the Beef cheeks and Mash also on a massive bed of salad on the Normandie earlier this year (picture posted somewhere on this site) it was ghastly. I complained to BF but never received a reply to my last message.. In general I've stopped using the restaurants on the Caen route and just treat myself when on Bretagne or the rare occasion I'm on PA. Has to be said I've never had a meal I didn't enjoy on Bretagne . The Quail with seafood was particularly good.

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I had the Beef cheeks and Mash also on a massive bed of salad on the Normandie earlier this year (picture posted somewhere on this site) it was ghastly. I complained to BF but never received a reply to my last message.. In general I've stopped using the restaurants on the Caen route and just treat myself when on Bretagne or the rare occasion I'm on PA. Has to be said I've never had a meal I didn't enjoy on Bretagne . The Quail with seafood was particularly good.

 

​I think I commented at the time, but Beef (or Pork) Cheeks are dirt cheap, even pence from the butcher as generally get chucked away. They are a very tough piece of meat and need very slow cooking. They are delicious and have a good flavour in a stew, or ragu done in the slow cooker for maybe 8-12 hours on low. Not something possible cooking to order though. They will be generating an excellent profit margin I would imagine. They are similarly priced to offal. I think the last batch I had was £2.50 a kilo from my butcher. If cooked too high temperature or/and quickly they are very tough.

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Cheeks are dirt cheap, even pence from the butcher as generally get chucked away.

 

Not any more. They are still a cheaper cut, but since the trendy chefs started using them, they are £8 a kilo in Waitrose!

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