Family Harvester Meal

Last week I made the manly decision of staying a few more hours at my mothers instead of getting caught up in rush hour traffic on the way home, which my wife agreed was a wise choice. Therefore to pass those few hours it was decided that we would head out and do some clothes shopping for the Munchkin then find somewhere to eat.

After the shopping was finished the Harvester was selected as our choice of eatery for the evening as it was close to where we were, we'd been there before and most important of all, it was cheap!

As it was only 5:30 in the afternoon when we arrived, the car park was about half full which made finding a space to unload a baby in easy. When the Munchkin was decanted into her pram we headed in and were greeted almost immediately by what looked like another diner. When I'd realised he was in fact a member of staff he seated us in a good area, if a little close to the air con unit (which to be honest didn't really need to be on, this is Britain not the Bahamas), with plenty of space next to the table to have the pram and not get in other peoples ways.

Within minutes the waitress had taken our drinks orders and returned with the glasses (self service on soft drinks!) and left us to decide what to eat. And what a choice there is! Of the five different menus we had the salad and grill menu, which gives you the option of a starter, a grill, a sauce, a side and a salad. Pretty much what you would expect as standard in any other restaurant, but at the Harvester you are given the impression that you can pick and choose without it being a problem. Which it is not. At any good restaurant.

One other small point about the menu, they have included calorie information on every dish, which I personally find completely pointless.

Before I go any further I want to highlight something that is on the menu, on their website and hinted at in their TV ad;

'We're always on a mission to use the tastiest and freshest food to ensure every Harvester meal is mouth watering'.

Lets hope so.

We decided to skip the starter and head straight into the main event that is the grills. Emz chose the 'Plantation Platter (920Kcal)' which consists of 'flame-grilled chicken wings, a baby rack of barbecue glazed ribs, half a spitroast chicken and crackerjack prawns, with grilled corn on the cob, grilled pineapple rings and sour cream & chive dip.' which can be had as a sharing dish or, in this case, as a dish for one.

I picked the premium burger (640Kcal) with cheese (70Kcal), burger sauce (150Kcal), crispy fries (380Kcal) and the surf and turf option (five king prawns served as a second side, 100Kcal).

Sounds nice doesn't it? It was. Nice and chunky, cheese positively oozing from it and surrounded by the crispiest golden brown chips I'd seen in a long time. Trouble was I couldn't tuck in just yet as I was feeding a baby. We had planned the meal so that the munchkin would just be getting hungry just as we were finishing our meals and didn't take into account the kitchen staff having their own idea of how long customers should wait.

When I did get round to tucking into the burger it was a little underdone but overall a very nice burger, for the price. The burger relish was a nice accompanier but tasted very much like the special sauce you get on McDonalds burgers.

As Emz was tucking into her chicken she pointed out that it was a little underdone too, but also could possibly be the light in the restaurant. She carried on with the meal regardless. It wasn't long before she started prodding at the spare ribs too. One of these, it turned out, were also undercooked and as she had got food poisoning before from undercooked pork she carried on very carefully.

Meanwhile back at the burger, I was starting to notice the meat wasn't slightly underdone as I had first thought. It was very well done in places and slightly underdone in other places. Now, I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that was not supposed to be like that. Nevermind, It still tasted good.

I hailed a passing waitress (or do we call them servers now? someone better let me know so I don't go alienating the worlds waitresses/servers) who ambled over to our table where I explained the problem with the chicken and ribs to her in a polite, I'm not actually complaining I just wanted to point this out, kind of way and Emz pointed out that it was probably just the one piece that was like it and not to worry. We don't like to complain.

So we gamely carried on with our meals and Emz noticed that, of course, none of the ribs were cooked. Due to the aforementioned food poisoning she gave up, but I finished my burger and chips. We decided that we wouldn't have dessert after all and that we should probably head back to my mums before hitting the road for the long drive home.

When the waitress/server came over to see how the meal was we pointed out that in fact the ribs were undercoooked. Her reply came as a bit of a shock to us.

"They can't be undercooked. It's all cooked somewhere else and then shipped in and reheated here".

I was gobsmacked. feel free to scroll up the page and re-read that piece of advertising gumpf that I highlighted, I'll wait.

So. Yes. Freshest food possible. It may've been fresh when it was cooked but if it had been cooked on site in the expansive kitchens that they have, the chef - no strike that, no one that just reheats food should be called a chef - the COOK would've noticed that the meat was undercooked and done something about it before it got sent out!

The waitress/server took it upon herself to take the plate of undercooked food off to the manager and left us sitting wondering what to do. After a wait of about ten minutes the waitress/server returned, sans plate, and explained that the manager had told her that the food was cooked off site and therefore cannot be undercooked.

Oh well, we're terribly sorry Mr/Mrs manager, we didn't realise that cooking off site ensures food is never undercooked! We didn't, of course say this at the time, we are far too polite.

The waitress/server then went on to say that as we were not happy, the manager has offered us one free desert. As we had decided against desert we did what all good British people do, we apologised for complaining and explained that we were just a bit worried as Emz is breastfeeding and didn't want to poison the baby. We then paid the bill in full and left.

If this was a review then my recommendations would be to avoid The Harvester chain of restaurants as they serve undercooked food that isn't fresh, as they state in their adverts.

Incidently, whilst looking around on the internet for bits about Harvester restaurants I discovered that back in 2008 they were shown on a BBC one show called 'Rouge Restaurants' for 'operating without regard for certain food hygene regulations'. Nice.

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3 Responses to Family Harvester Meal

  1. Oh dear, that's worrying, especially as you would imagine they would be suitable for families! Well done for complaining tho' I'm bad at it! Penny

  2. You should have complained considering Emma is breast feeding, you should have asked to speak to the manager and politely tell him/her what you said about it being undercooked regardless of it being offsite...and finally you should have asked for a reduction in your bill, not a free desert! lucky I wasn't there!!! ;)

  3. You can always write to head office to complain. That's nice and impersonal, and you'll feel better afterwards.

    You could also leave a review on TripAdvisor. There's nothing like bad customer reviews and dwindling business to get a response from management.


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