Saturday, October 05, 2013
Local Friends (Golder’s Green) / False Advertising Kings
This week, I started a part-time Masters, the campus of which is in central London. We get 1 ½ hours for lunch breaks, as opposed to the half hour I get at work, which means I have quite some time to kill, exploring London. I like the make optimal use of that time by just hopping off at a random tube stop and ambling to the first restaurant that piques my fancy. On Wednesday, it was Golder’s Green, and a Chinese restaurant just a road across from the station, Local Friends. It was also a lesson, or should that be a re-affirmation, that when it comes to Chinese restaurants, if it looks too good to be true, that’s because it is.
They advertised a lunchtime deal that boasted a soup, meat and a side dish for £6.80. I thought this sounded great; I love being able to choose a whole “package deal”-type things. And you could choose exactly what meat you wanted, be it chicken/beef/pork, and what type of sauce (eg sweet and sour or black bean sauce). However, if you wanted a seafood dish, you’d have to shell out a bit more, which completely goes against the photo they put outside the restaurant, where prawns were featured.
The quality of the food was mixed. For soup, I ordered the hot and sweet sauce, which tasted like pretty much every other one I’ve had in Chinese restaurants; it’s very hard to get wrong, but always tastes wonderful. For main, I had beef in black bean sauce. The sauce was great, but I felt the beef was undercooked, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was, as the food was laid out for me less than three minutes after I’d ordered it, which did seem like suspiciously swift turnover. As it turned out, it was. Add in the fact that the rice had absolutely nothing going for it, then I’d really have to say the lunch was more miss than hit, with the high point coming at the start with the soup.
The final unpleasant surprise of my Local Friends-going experience was when the bill came. The sign outside the restaurant quite clearly stipulated £6.80. We’ve already touched upon how the photos were misleading because the actual menu excluded prawn. Well, the price itself was yet another lie, because turns out, Local Friends aren’t so friendly after all: they helped themselves to a 10% service charge. That, too, was not on the sign. I learnt one crucial life lesson on Wednesday: the Chinese LOVE their false advertising. The next time I eat Chinese food in London will be at Chinatown.
(if you would like me to review your restaurant, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get back to you.)