I discovered Brewers Fayre when Monkey was quite small, and the Wobbly Wheel, near Banbury, has been a regular haunt for the last four years. They run a loyalty card scheme and we always seem to rack up our points really quickly, to make a reasonable meal even cheaper. When our more local Bicester branch opened I was really pleased. A family friendly restaurant offering good value for money. We were asked to share our thoughts on the Festive Menu at Brewers Fayre, so off I went on Sunday tea time with Monkey and Daddy P.
I’d pre-booked our table online (a first for me, as we normally just turn up) and selected the festive menu option for our meal. We arrived and were taken to our table, and it was only after the waiter had left that I realised we had no menus at all. Called him back and menus promptly appeared. Only issue, no festive menus. After a bit of head scratching, I tracked down a waitress – do you have a festive menu? Oh yes, and one menu promptly appeared. Not the best first impression. But to be honest, of all the Brewers Fayre’s we’ve been to, our local one has never left much of a good impression, it’s a real shame.
But anyway. We’d booked our table for 5pm and the 3 course festive menu costs £12.99 per adult (£9.99 during the day in the week). The Kids Festive Menu has 2 courses at £4.99. Of course, when you have a just turned 5 year old and they know pizza is on the normal menu, they can’t be persuaded to not have that! So Daddy P and I chose from the Festive Menu and Monkey from the normal kids menu.
If Monkey could have been persuaded to get in the festive spirit then this would have been his selection.
Daddy P decided on Tomato and Basil Pesto Soup, Roast Turkey and Christmas Pudding with custard. I fancied the Garlic and Herb Breaded Mushrooms, Roast Turkey and the Warm Chocolate Brownie for pudding. Sounded delicious.
Monkey picked from the main kids menu – veggie dips, Margarita pizza and an ice cream sundae for pudding.
I went off to order our meals at the bar, queued for 10 minutes behind people buying drinks and then went back to our table. Daddy P was driving so he stuck to cokes (you can get free refills), Monkey had a Fruit Shoot and I treated myself to a bottle of Prosecco for One at £4.99! It’s Christmas!
The starters came out quite promptly, Daddy P thought the soup could have been a little hotter but tasted good. My starter was lovely, not at all greasy, as you can sometimes find. A good start overall.
We’d all enjoyed our starters and were looking forward to our main courses. Then the wait began. Once our starters were cleared away, we’d expected our mains to come out by return of service. Twenty minutes passed before they appeared. Brewers Fayre do offer kids activity books and crayons generally, these never seem to be offered freely at the Bicester branch but are at others we visit. The waiting wasn’t ideal with a hungry Monkey. But never mind they had turned up and looked great.
The Festive Menu Main course comes with roast turkey, Yorkshire pudding, chipolata sausage, roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts root veg mash, sage, cranberry and onion stuffing and gravy. You could pay an additional £1.49 for extra turkey, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, but we both agreed that we had plenty on our plates. The meal was tasty, the only issue we both had was with the Brussel sprouts. We both love sprouts but these were really quite undercooked. I know they’re not an easy veg to get right, but these weren’t great. But that aside, the rest of the meal was tasty and we both enjoyed it. Monkey was happy with his pizza and garlic bread.
As we’d ordered our desserts with the rest of our food we’d expected them to appear quite quickly. Wrong. In fact it took 25 minutes for our plates to even be cleared. I couldn’t understand the rationale of the waitresses, bringing food out to tables and not taking empty plates back. It makes no sense to me.
Monkey wanted another drink so Daddy P went off to the bar, that took 25 minutes too, just to buy a Fruit Shoot. Our table was finally cleared, would you like desserts? Uum, we ordered them over an hour ago? Oh, ok. We waited again, another 25 minutes, before our puddings arrived. By which time Monkey had really had enough and quite frankly so had we. We’d been joking that it would have been quicker to drive up the motorway to the Wobbly Wheel, on the other side of Banbury, eat a meal and drive back, than to eat at our local restaurant. Not great.
Anyway, the puddings! Lovely. They were really good. Just a shame that the service let the food down so badly.
We weren’t alone with having issues, I saw meals being returned and other families getting fed up with the waiting time. 5pm is prime time for families, especially those with kids of Monkey’s age, to eat out. But kids don’t like waiting for their food, which is why families choose restaurants like Brewers Fayre.
In general I rate the chain, but not the Bicester branch. They are consistently poor on service, whenever we’ve been, since it’s opened. Maybe it’s just a 4.30-7pm issue, I don’t know, but it’s our experience. Luckily, I know that not all Brewers Fayre’s are like this. In fact, Monkey and I will be taking a family friend to the Banbury Wobbly Wheel branch this Saturday lunchtime. I know it will be a totally different experience.
In general the Festive Menu at Brewers Fayre represents good value for money in my opinion.
I spotted on Instagram on Sunday that Louise at A Strong Coffee was testing out the Festive Menu at Brewers Fayre at the same time. They got Christmas crackers – what a nice, festive touch.
disclaimer: we were given a voucher to use for our meal and drinks in exchange for an honest review