The Wednesday Whinge

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The Cafe @Waitrose

I am all for being positive. In fact, I try to live my life always thinking that the best is ahead of us and that people have but the best intentions at heart. But sometimes the truth must out, if anything to ensure a gentle nudge towards improvement. Think of this as constructive criticism.

I have been a big fan of Waitrose for years and I think that we can consider ourselves fortunate to have one locally – to pop in and find all sorts of quality food and delicacies – it always does the trick of lifting the spirits of a foodie. Have an urgent need for lobster bisque, run out of tamari sauce or need to replenish your supply of quinoa? Waitrose will never disappoint. Its staff are helpful and courteous at all times. Its food fresh and top quality.

Rational, linear thought would lead you to expect its eponymous café would benefit from the same quality. Alas, that remains a dream rather than reality.

Let’s begin with the space and its furnishings. The café benefits from a lovely aspect, with natural daylight streaming in, so why is it necessary to have that harsh, clinical lighting that gives the grey furniture, flooring and accessories that washed-out, anaemic look? I walk in and I am unsure whether to have a cappuccino or my appendix removed.

The tables are packed tightly – no doubt to create that conviviality amongst the customers (ahem) – leaving little room for any pleasing touches that could brighten and soften the ambiance. How about some potted plants, some warm lighting, some textural fabrics, some little colourful touches to bring it to life? And I bet you could get most of the stuff from Waitrose homeware department. It would make you want to linger and little longer, maybe even buy a second cuppa. Which brings me to the next topic – the beverages.

I have no doubt they are made with only the best ingredients, as that is what Waitrose sells after all, and yet, the final product is one of indistinct flavour – fitting in with the grey-tinged furniture and lighting. I’ve been back time and again – as my brain refuses to process the notion that quality drinks cannot be had there – and yet, I am left disappointed every time.

And finally. the food on offer could certainly enjoy wider variety and creative flair. Don’t get me wrong, we love a Ploughman’s and a choccy éclair, but sometimes you just fancy a change.

I just think the potential is so vast that it’s frustrating to see it unfulfilled. It’s like watching someone wasting a good hand at poker. Let’s hope they up their game!


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