Generally I am a firm believer in ‘if you cannot say something nice don’t say anything at all’, but I am not very good at biting my tongue. In this instance the latter won. Spending a lot of time in Birmingham on the weekends I was really excited about the opening of Marco Pierre White Birmingham in The Cube at the start of this year. MPW Birmingham promises ‘ultra modern’ dining, and drinking 25 floors up with 360 degree views of the city. I could not tell you about the food, as I have not even enough faith in the place to even try it yet.
I have however made use of the bar, and terrace at MPW Birmingham, and each time I am astonished at what shockingly awful service you get. Thinking it was perhaps just the one time even though it was not busy I have been back since to no avail. Then I thought perhaps it was just because I was going at the weekend so I went some time in the week – no difference. My friend who joined me when I went during the week described it as a ‘comedy of errors‘, and he was quite right! It was just one thing after another.
So I present you with 10 things Marco Pierre White Birmingham needs to address:
1. It is not even that obvious where it is, the signage inside The Cube looks more like an advertisement than the actual location. I appreciate that it is joined with Hotel Indigo but if a friend had not actually told me how to get to it I would have been slightly confused.
2. It is not clear whether you seat yourself, or wait to be seated. One time I was seated, the rest of the time I have simply sunk down wherever there was a space. I do not mind either but the dithering about being ignored by staff members is not really my idea of fun.
3. Slow staff. Each time it has taken ages to even be acknowledged by a staff member even when it was not busy. The next challenge is getting the staff member to bring you a menu – they seem oddly quite reluctant to do so. Once you have eventually managed to place an order they do not get any faster, I had to wait over fifteen minutes just for a bottle of prosecco.
4. Cheap menus. The menus are reminiscent of some grotty sea side cafe – plastic, ring bound, and cheap looking. They have a more extensive menu which you have to ask for (they do not tell you that) which were not much better. Even a simple menu on paper would have looked much better.
5. Paying up front. Much to my shock I was informed on Fridays, and Saturdays you have to pay up front as they have had a problem with people leaving, and not paying. How is that my problem? You have security don’t you? My friend, and I offered to put our cards behind the bar as collateral – we were refused. Seriously what kind of establishment is MPW Birmingham? I am concerned if I ever had food there that they would make me pay up front for that too. When I am having a leisurely drink I do not want to run around sorting payment until I have finished. During the week seemingly eager they bought the bill the same time as my drinks – I really do not like when places do this; I will ask for it when I am ready.
6. Staff interaction. When you are being addressed in what is supposed to be a fancy establishment you would think that the staff members would not start talking to you by going, “Alright lads what is it then?“, and constantly referring to you as “mate” – it isn’t professional, cute, or endearing. Don’t do it. Expanding on this MPW Birmingham are quick enough to ‘retweet’ the above picture I look on their Twitter, post it on their Facebook page, but not to respond to my tweet complaining about something – if they had positively responded to me then perhaps I would not have wrote this entry.
7. Inconsistent opening for the Laurent Perrier Bar. What is the point in having a champagne bar if it is seemingly never open? Countless times I have went to go in, and found it not open. I can appreciate it not being open in the day, but even in the evening it’s opening times seem haphazard – simply sometimes it is open, other times it is not. Some consistent opening times would be nice. It seems to be used more as a staff meeting room than an actual bar most of the time.
8. Bin bags through bar. Yes you read it correctly BIN BAGS through bar, at what point the staff members of MPW Birmingham thought it was acceptable to drag multiple (not just one) bin bags of waste through a bar full of people is beyond me. I suppose it was at the same point when the staff members deemed it acceptable to nonchalantly stroll through the bar with an open hoodie covering their uniform, and what was unmistakably a Subway bag, and drink in their hands. I appreciate you have breaks, but it rather spoils the atmosphere in the bar. Surely there is a staff entrance/exit, and even a staff room of some sort? It is not professional, and does not look good in terms of front of house.
9. Professionalism. In general I suppose it is a big thing that lets MPW Birmingham down, but you cannot expect staff to maintain an air of professionalism when senior staff members do not follow suit either. One afternoon sat a few tables away we had a senior member of staff shouting across to a staff member about his rota, and asking him to grab some paper from the printer at reception – simply across the bar is not place for this.
10. Terrace blinds. On the terrace are some stand alone blinds. I over heard a woman asking a staff member to open them – he proceeded to tell her how they do not work, and have never worked. Apparently MPW Birmingham ordered the wrong ones. Well sort it out! It has been months since you opened either buy some new ones, or get rid of them. There is no use in some blinds just sitting redundant – it adds nothing aesthetically.
A lot of the points I have mentioned are avoidable, and would not take much effort at all to sort out. If you assert yourself as a luxury bar, and restaurant you have to back it up, and right now MPW Birmingham is not doing that. You cannot hype yourself up, and then not deliver.
So if you want a nice view of Birmingham, what can only be described as rubbish service, and to pay more simply because of Marco Pierre White’s name, knock yourself out – however I remain unimpressed. I will I suppose try the food sometime, and I can only hope it is an improvement on currently what is a great shame, and a waste of a prime location.