Sort of a restaurant review, I suppose.
I'm not big on 'name' restaurants, I've been to a few (most notably on of Rick Steins places in Padstow) they usually come with so much expectation that they are hopelessly disappointing I'm looking at you Ramsey!)
Carluccios was a better option being part of a chain that has a famous name attached. Slightly different prospect. Anyway, we went in and was taken to a nice banquette by our waiter. We'd barely got the menus open when he was back asking us to order drinks. As were don't really do alcohol, we wanted to look at the soft drinks and we asked if we could have another couple of minutes. He seems to be mortally offended by this and stomped off. 20 mins later he finally came back to us after seating people either side of us, taking orders, and delivering starters to both sides, all the while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge us.
Disturbingly, he was also flirting/slobbering over the young girls on the table next to us. He sidled into the space between table and bent over. A lot. There isn't much space between the table which meant that for most of lunch, we had a waiters arse in our face. Had it been a nice arse, it might have been seen as a bonus (and he might have got a tip, arf, arf!) but as it was, it was a rather unpleasant distraction.
The food eventually started to arrive and the Chicken Liver Pate was exquisite.
The Milanese di Pollo not so... nothing wrong, but it needed something with it other than salad leaves to make it fly. The dessert, a rum and vanilla panna cotta with candied orange peel, was enough to make a grown man weep. Once we actually got it.
We were, thanks to the ineptness of the waiter, running out of time before our next appointment of the day, so we ordered dessert and coffee together, even having a bit of a joke about it and having a mad discussion on the difference between a single and a double espresso. The dessert arrived. The coffee did not. The dessert was cleared away, the coffee did not arrive. After much flirting by the waiter, again with the next table, we finally managed to catch his eye. And he somewhat sourly asks us if we'd like to order coffee. We already have done, we equally sourly respond. There's a brief moment of huffing and "no you didn't", after which I remind him of the conversation we had about it. "Oh yeah", he says and a full 25 minutes later, from the second time we ordered it (some 45 minutes from the first time) we get the coffee. Which, it has to be said was awesome and possible the best espresso I've tasted.
But the whole meal, which would have been hugely enjoyable, was spoiled by a waiter who seemed to determined to put the concerns of the contents of his pants before the needs of the customer. Plus, y'know, I had a blokes arse in my face for nearly two hours. Not the best advert, I'm afraid.
****Addendum. I went back to the shop part of Carluccio's in Tunbridge Wells as I'd seen some rather tasty looking Mortadella. Being a mortadella fiend, I had to get some. Despite being the only person in the deli part it took 25 minutes to be served and then, after asking for mortadella, I was given first, ham, then mozzarella and finally mortadella. The person serving, although she was very pleasant to chat to (eventually) had absolutely no productt knowledge. I might have asked for grated fruit bat given the blank look on her face when asking for mortadella.
It sad when a potentially great experience is turned into something less than enjoyable and extremely frustrating by staff that don't seem to give a toss.