Eating out at Wetherspoons
According to Wikipedia: “J D Wetherspoon plc (branded variously as Wetherspoon or Wetherspoons, and colloquially known as Spoons) is a pub company based in Watford, England, operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Founded in 1979 by Tim Martin, the company operates nearly 900 pubs, including the chain of Lloyds No.1 bars, and a growing number of Wetherspoon hotels. Wetherspoon is known for converting unconventional premises into pubs. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index”.
In the space of just over a week, I got to eat at TWO Wetherspoons pubs: Parsons Barn (Southend) and The Moon Under Water (Wigan) under what happened to be quite different circumstances. These happened to be the first two eating out places I visited after the most recent Covid lockdown restrictions have been lifted and, given these are unusual days, any remarks must be tempered given going from not open to open (and both busy as it happens) cannot be easy, with both places seeming to follow standard rules and adapt well (although filling in forms no-one checks is comical).
Parsons Barn (Southend)
The occasion was me and a friend decided to meet up for breakfast and chew the cud so to speak in a pleasant environment and eating decent grub. The ambience was ok and the premises clean and we enjoyed our meeting. The service was relatively quick and okish (not more – especially if looking for being made a fuss off – and it wasn’t over busy either and we noted one of the other eater’s frustration at not being attended to, and yet another not sure what they needed to do to make progress). The breakfast was nice (just) and fair value – but nothing to wow over – mediocre sausages and cold plates (I wish establishments paid more attention to keeping food hot). The coffee was refillable but one had to refill from a machine and I wasn’t convinced. I’m sorry to appear negative but it seems to me that this establishment comes under the “could do better” rating.
The Moon Under Water (Wigan)
This occasion was me and my wife was visiting a relative in Wigan and feeling hungry decided to find somewhere to eat in the High Street. It was just before midday and already busy – when we left a half an hour later it had gotten even busier and it was evident staff were rushed off their feet. We were told on entry what the set-up was – find a table and we’ll take your order etc. The menu was disappointing and so was the service – after ten minutes the waiter still hadn’t arrived. Then spurred on by notices meant to allay concerns over lack of service for those not using the app, we decided to use the app (which we needed to download and was for us – a new experience). In fairness, the app wasn’t difficult to use and the menu there we found to be a lot more extensive. We all chose steak, hedging our bets by specifying medium. I had a beer and my two fellow diners went for hot drinks using a similar set up to my previous experience. Service was surprisingly quick but as before the food was only ok (steak was tough and plates cold). Surroundings and service were ok although service wasn’t around when you wanted it (I wanted to know where was my mustard).
While both my experiences weren’t negative, they weren’t altogether positive either, and for future reference Wetherspoons is not somewhere I would rush to revisit – instead I would likely be staying with the Toby Carvery if looking for somewhere quick, cheap and cheerful with nice food. Having visited Southend’s two other Wetherspoons pubs: The Elms and The Last Post, I can confirm these establishments do have a corporate feel despite efforts to give each their own identity. Sadly, I noted all of them have gambling machines – that fall into the crack cocaine of gambling category.