THE COMMISSARY: INEDIBLE IN ISLINGTON
Someone posted a question yesterday about why HP did not complain about his seemingly dire meal at The Salisbury. His response quite rightly was, to tell the anonymous poster to mind his or her own fricking business.
However, it did raise an interesting point about why, here in Britain, we are so reticent about complaining. It may be because of our innate British reserve. It may be because that, on the whole, most people in this country don’t know if they are having a good meal or a bad one so don’t recognise need for complaint. It may even be that the restaurants are wise to us and put barriers in the way of genuine and polite complaints.
Some, all too few in number, may actually try and do something to rectify the situation. But, many, truly don’t give a damn and will often send out some aggressive sort to argue the toss until bewildered and confused, you slink out into the night feeling cheap and used.
However, yesterday’s strategy, during and after a truly abysmal lunch at The Commissary was a new one on me. Just make sure that the only staff available to customers, treat the English language as a work in progress.
I had chosen The Commissary at the request of my friend, Ashika, as a “cheap place with decent food near to Old St” and, based on one previous visit, it would have just about filled all those criteria. It’s not easy to find, down by the canal and with the entrance only through the gates of The London Studios. Now I can only wish that it had been even harder to find or indeed impossible, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Bar a few tables filled with people from the adjacent studios having their lunch, we were the only people in there and, looking at the short menu, we selected our food and a bottle of cheap Spanish wine and I went to order at the bar.
The wine arrived immediately and tasted like it had been left next to a radiator. Not a good start, but we were too engrossed in catching up to notice. We did notice however when our starters arrived. In fact we noticed when our main courses arrived too as all four plates came up at the same time and the waitress struggled to fit them on to our small table.
Our attempts to explain that the notion of starter and main course meant at least a short gap between courses were met with a blank stare, the first use of the “meee no speekeee English” gambit from the Eastern European wait staff and the plates were plonked down as we were left to our own devices as she scurried off to chat to a friend behind the bar before we could be more firm about matters.
Faced with four sizeable plates of food, we began to pick at random, hoping that it would at least be worth the effort. It wasn’t. I can say, hand on heart that this is seriously some of the most disgusting food I have ever encountered anywhere on earth and one wonders what kind of people would have to be in the kitchen to send slop like this out without an apology note or at least a gun so you had the option to shoot yourself first?
A few miserable rings of Calamari were like small inner tubes and came with a sharply dressed salad that made our mouths pucker like we were receiving a thousand paper cuts and sprinkling them in vinegar. A plate of chorizo saw large, partially cooked potatoes tossed with strips of leathery sausage in the most inappropriate marriage since a judge once said “Michael do you take Lisa Marie………”
By now, we had forgotten which were main courses and which were starters, but it didn’t matter as the few mouthfuls we took just made us sorry we had woken up that morning. A goat’s cheese “stack” took matters to a whole new level of awfulness, with particular points for leaving a nice tough skin on the cheese to add extra texture.
I could only dream what texture they were looking for in the burger, but I am guessing that mushy wasn’t it. The chips were, once again, barely cooked potatoes tossed in raw paprika the sort of dish even The Kyhmer Rouge would reject as being a crime against humanity.
The waitress came to take the barely touched plates away with hardly a raised eyebrow, a sure sign that this may be an all too regular occurrence at The Commissary. If I had been able to get a decent signal on my Blackberry I would have googled to see what “That was fucking disgusting, please kill me, kill me now” is in Polish, but, as HP so often says after a meal where you feel that the whole operation either doesn’t know or knows and doesn’t care, that it is so wretched “what’s the point?”
So bad was our whole experience in fact, that Ashika and I came out shaking with laughter, almost forgetting the £40 our “meal” cost us. But, it will be a cold day in hell before I forget easily one of the worst meals I have ever been served in London.