All Mouth And No Knickers
Having heard nothing but good things about Stingi Lulu's, we were eager to give it a try. We were prepared for it to be expensive compared to other local venues (£145 for two courses for five of us and one bottle of wine) but understood it to be worth it.
Sadly, we weren't terribly impressed. The food was mostly ok, but let down by truly woeful service. Catching anyone's attention was incredibly difficult all night, and it was 25 minutes before we got a drink, let alone a chance to order.
To be fair, once the starters were ordered, they came quickly and were very good - I had the duck spring rolls, which came with three dipping sauces and were great (although the starter of olives and bread was felt to be a bit steep at £6).
The mains were ok, but again we all felt there was room for improvement. My sea bass was cooked to perfection, but the potato cake it rested on was supposed to have crab and scallions, of which I could find no trace - only overpowering and unexpected chilli. And with no sauce, it was too dry to finish.
One of the party ordered a curry, and was left without his rice until we could (eventually) attract the attention of a waitress. Fantastic bowls of stir fried vegetables were provided for sharing - but getting them out proved very tricky, as the serving spoon was essentially a soup spoon - have you ever tried doling out beansprouts and mange tout slippery with oil with something that small?
Feeling still peckish, I was the only one to go for a dessert - and I really wish I hadn't bothered. What sounded amazing - "a blueberry and wildberry martini with ice cream" was inedible. A layered jelly in a glass with a scoop of icecream on the large serving plate it rested on, the jelly was set to the consistency of a bouncy castle. I really thought I was in danger of shattering the glass with the spoon as I tried to prise bits out - it was roughly the same thickness of jelly cubes out the box. Lumps of it were passed round the table to unanimous disgust. And the blueberries? Well, I could see half a one trapped like a fly in amber with other bits of sour fruit in the depths. Yuck.
The coffees came, one to be promptly poured into someone's lap by the waitress, with no attempt to come back and clear it up. A cappuccino was deemed to be only luke warm.
Time passed. We eventually attracted enough attention to get the bill. More time passed. We finally gave up and went in search of someone to press money onto, if only so we could leave. We were in there for 3 hours, and I reckon with reasonable service we'd have been out in 2.
The other thing that was pretty out of order in a place that expensive was the fact that there was one loo. For everyone. The seat was broken, the floor was swimming, and there was a manky looking hand towel that I didn't even want to touch. Now I'm sorry, but if you've only got one unisex loo, then the least you can do is send someone in to tart it up every half an hour. Because at those prices you can damn well afford to.
All in all, it's a bit of a shame, because the venue was really nice (although the tables are very crammed in - to get to ours we had to literally squeeze on tiptoes between two sets of chairs - I think I may have caused one gentleman to stab himself in the nose with his fork by inadvertently jogging his elbow with my arse), and the food was really pretty good. The presentation is amazing, but we did feel it was style over substance. If the service had been any good, or the prices had been a few quid a dish cheaper, we'd have been really pleased with the evening, but we left feeling a bit let down. And still peckish.