Staff and customers dismayed by Holly Bush review

I write as the Publican of the Holly Bush Pub in Hampstead. I, along with many of our loyal customers was dismayed to read the review by Joseph Connolly (Staff spend too much time beating around Bush, H&H August 6). As regular readers of the Ham&High we

I write as the Publican of the Holly Bush Pub in Hampstead. I, along with many of our loyal customers was dismayed to read the review by Joseph Connolly (Staff spend too much time beating around Bush, H&H August 6).

As regular readers of the Ham&High we were disappointed to see that such an unbalanced and unfair review was allowed to sprawl over an entire page of the publication. There were several errors of fact and I would like to correct them.

Our sausage roll is �2.50 - not the 'weird price of �2.56' that Mr Connolly mentioned - perhaps he needs a visit to Specsavers!

He made a sweeping comment about the Marmite and cheddar shortbread saying it was 'one of those things you either loathe or loathe, I can only imagine'. Mr Connolly must have a vivid imagination as he didn't even sample this for himself (it's actually one of our most popular bar snacks).


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I explained to Mr Connolly on arrival as he went upstairs that during the week, even if you sit in our historic dining room, you do have to place food orders at the bar downstairs - there is no waiter service during the week.

I noticed after a while that he was unwilling to accept this so I offered to take his order for him. The wait for his food was no longer than normal, but I think that having been upset that there was no waiter service, Mr Connolly was already put out.

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The starters were cold because they were cold starters - crab and prawns are kept refrigerated for a good reason. His cutlery was on the table but obscured by a menu which Mr Connolly had inadvertently placed on top of it. We appreciate his comments on the pies; these are a Holly Bush staple, much tweaked and much loved and I have passed these comments on to the Chef.

The Chef was actually quite upset to be accused of microwaving meals - all our meals are cooked fresh; perhaps Mr Connolly was mistaking food served piping hot from the oven as being 'zapped' in a microwave.

As for paying: normally customers order at the bar, pay at the bar and then sit down to enjoy their meal. Mr Connolly says in his article that this had been explained to him, but because he did not want to do this, obviously there was some confusion when he asked the bar staff if he could pay, as they had no way of identifying which bill was his without him describing what was on it.

To clarify, we ask customers to order at the bar during the week, and at busy weekends we are pleased to offer waiter service in our upstairs dining room.

We do appreciate the kind comments regarding the timeless beauty of the Holly Bush - it's something we try very hard to preserve. With regards to the William Morris wallpaper in the upstairs dining room, it is currently Savernake print but is shortly being replaced (as part of renovations to make the upstairs of the Holly Bush a more comfortable space) by Morris' Willow Boughs print which is a little more cheerful but still in keeping with the integrity of the room.

We welcome everybody to the Holly Bush. We think it's a special place with a fantastic atmosphere and great food. But we are a traditional pub, not a fine dining restaurant which is perhaps what Mr Connolly was looking for on this occasion. Regardless, we would welcome him back and hope that he enjoys his next visit.

Robert Tudgey

Publican, The Holly Bush

Hampstead, NW3

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