The Fire Station – Cheltenham

A few weeks ago, Helen and I decided to try out the Fire Station for breakfast.  We took my parents and my Grandmother along too.  We wanted to try somewhere new as we had been to Curious Café on the Bath Road a few days before.

I had never been to the Fire Station and had heard mixed reviews about the food and service.  Walking in the building is stunning.  The modern fixtures in the original building is fantastic and works nicely.  A lot of money has been spent on the building and it shows.

We got there at about 10am on a Sunday morning (maybe Saturday I can’t remember) and were given the choice of where to sit as there was only 1 other table in there at the time.  We sat near the door and the table was more than big enough for the five of us.  We were given our menus and ordered drinks.  So far so good.

We didn’t have to wait long for the to order our food and drinks which was great.  The server seemed friendly and knowledgeable of the menu and what was available.

The food also then also came quite quickly (which I would expect considering there seemed to be three chefs and only two tables, one of which already had food).

I had a full English breakfast which was nice but not a big as some other places.  Two of our party had the North African inspired Shakshuka baked eggs which came with spiced tomatoes & peppers, labneh and sourdough.  It came on a skillet and looked amazing.  It was different which was great and it was nice (I managed to try some).

There were a few problems however.  The drinks were small and the coffee wasn’t hot enough and although there were only five of us one drink was forgotten.  It was rectified quickly but as it was just an orange juice it felt odd it would be forgotten.  When we had finished our breakfast it seemed to take a long time (close to 30 minutes) before the servers came over to ask if everything was OK, or if we wanted more drinks.

We asked for the bill which came in good time but no-one ever came to take payment.  This was the worst part.  We tried to get someones attention but had to go to the bar area (in the adjoining room) to pay.  There were three people on the bar (along with the the two or three servers) which was even more frustrating.  I guess I just don’t understand why we didn’t have almost constant attention?  With great service, which we did not get, we may have stayed longer and had more coffee.

It might seem petty reading the above but being in there on that day I felt hugely underwhelmed.  The food was good and we were in a great location but the service annoyed all of us.  The worst part of this was that there was a service charge added to the bill of 12.5%…for terrible service.

I believe that adding a service charge to the bill is wrong.  It shouldn’t happen anywhere, even London.  I think it allows some servers to not pay attention and not go above and beyond for their tip.  I like to tip according to the service.  I normally tip even when it’s bad, but on this day I just felt it wasn’t worth it and looking back I should have asked for it to be removed.

It’s a shame as the venue is beautiful and the food is good.  It also seems there not alone in our views here. People we know who have been independently of us have raised the same issues and Trip Advisor is full of disappointing critiques.

I would go back for a drink.  But not for a sit down meal. Shame, there is so much potential here.



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