I’ve mentioned before that Chipping Campden is one of our favourite places to visit on a day off, so it was our first choice for Sunday roast when we had a rare weekend off last week. Having been to the Noel Arms Hotel several times for drinks and seen a ‘Jazz Sunday roast’ advertised for the first Sunday of each month, it seemed the perfect way to spend our rare and precious Sunday off. I phoned up on Saturday and made a reservation so that we could be sure we would get a place on what was likely to be a busy period for bookings.
When we parked in the square opposite the hotel, we could already hear the strains of a live jazz band drifting out of the hotel into the main street of Chipping Campden. We were really looking forward to a roast, having just been walking on the Cotswold Way, and we could hardly wait for our first Sunday roast for some months. Sadly, the “welcome” we received from the surly barman – a character by the name of Chris – left much to be desired, and didn’t really get our visit off to a good start.
It wasn’t anything he said, as such – it was the way he said it. I just cannot understand why such rude people with so few social skills choose to work in the hospitality industry. We felt that our presence was inconveniencing him and he only spoke – in monosyllabic replies – when asked questions. It was so awkward. After we’d chosen a table outside, I overheard the people on the table next to us commenting on how rude, “sour-faced” and “harsh” he’d been to them, too. Not a great person to be representing a posh Cotswolds hotel that, judging by the price list, seems to be positioning itself towards the more well-heeled customer.
Anyway, we had seen the Jazz Sunday roast advertised as being two courses for £19.50 (see screenshot below), but upon ordering with said sour-faced barman, we were told that this was not the case and that we would just have to pay the normal menu prices. Ordering at 2.20pm, we were comfortably within the timeframe outlined in the brochure.
Accordingly, we ordered one starter to share, a chicken liver pate. This turned up but we had to sit staring at it for some minutes while the waitress went and fetched some cutlery, as ours had been mistakenly delivered to a neighbouring table earlier on.
The pate was ok – not the best we’ve had by a long stretch, but not awful; though it was served with a bewildering side of green beans and nuts. The Sunday roast was a bit of a mixed bag. It was largely cold by the time it turned up, the vegetables undercooked and the Yorkshire on the chewy side. It was advertised on the menu as being served with horseradish sauce, but there was none in evidence when it arrived, so that meant a further wait for the waiter to bring some out to us. But the beef was good, and the gravy was beautifully rich. Lee was pleased with his pint of Old Hooky, too.
Nobody came to ask if everything was ok with our meals, and the jazz band packed up ten minutes early, so we only got to enjoy the jazz for half the meal.
For the price we paid – a shade under an eye-watering £50 and we didn’t even have dessert – we really would’ve expected better. We were pretty annoyed that the advertised two courses for £19.50 turned out not to be an option, even though I’d booked in specifically for the Jazz Sunday roast. But it was the service – if that’s what one can call it – that really let the side down. We have had some good experiences of visiting this hotel, but yesterday has put us right off visiting again. Next time we pass the time of day in Chipping Campden, we’ll be seeking out another establishment more deserving of our loyalty.