There are so many little non-chainy food places around the British Museum/Bloomsbury area that occasionally curiosity gets the better of you and you think, “Well, surely this place wouldn’t still be here if it were *that* bad?”. So, feeling like a spot of Chinese food and keen to avoid the vegetarian-buffet-which-isn’t-comfortable-enough-being-vegetarian-to-refrain-from-mock-meat-dishes cliché, I spied the lunchtime offer at Chang’s Noodles on the small sandwich board out front: “soup + dish + rice = £4.90”.
Being seated wasn’t a problem, as I was the only one in there. The atmosphere felt very much like eating in the front room of your granddad’s house. A perfunctory soup arrived, but I wasn’t expecting Ottolenghi for a fiver. For “dish” I had selected the crispy chilli beef, and what arrived seemed more like deep-fried styrofoam twiglets drenched in a sauce made from sour regret.
I chalked it up in the Loss column and decided to leave & say no more about it. So I walked up to the register desk and handed over my fiver. The guy handed me my bill, with £5.40 written on the bottom in red.
“I thought the lunchtime deal was £4.90?”
“Well, 50p tip, isn’t it.”
So, new formula for the board out front: “bland food + disinterested service + misleading promotion = one-star review from mrfrisky”. It makes sense why the Pret next door was so popular.