The White Hart, Guestling is situated on the A259 making it very easy to get to and just a couple of miles outside of Hastings town centre. We’ve driven past many times but had never been in it until today, as we pulled into the car park just before 5pm on a Saturday evening there were loads of spaces and it all looked clean and tidy. I commented to dh that it would be a great place for just him and I on a summers evening as there is a large outdoor area with tables and the view was wonderful. The grade II listed building also looks really pretty from the outside and our first impression was good and we were excited for our visit.
It is funny how your mood and expectations can drop in the bat of an eyelid though, as we went into the front door we found two parties waiting in front of us and we were left hanging in the porch. The man greeting guests (Paul I believe his name was) had a very stern look on his face and was not very friendly, in fact I got the distinct impression that he would rather no customers turned up to eat. We had arrived about 4.55pm and expected our table to be ready as the PR agency had informed me they had booked. The greeter told me he didn’t have a reservation in my name and that it was very busy. He asked if I had personally booked, I explained George at the PR agency had and at the mention of this he said we needed to wait a few moments for a table to be re-laid for us.
We didn’t wait long and we were then led to a table but after a few minutes at the table it became clear we had been put on the table that is always sold last, the one right by the kitchen door, the servery and the waiter’s station. We constantly had staff going backwards and forwards past us, chatting by the servery (six of them together at one point) and whenever they held the kitchen door open there was a very loud whirring noise. My husband guessed it was a fridge or freezer working overtime due to the heat. Sadly the table we were seated at was still sticky and had ring marks from the drinks the last people had.
The greeter did come back quickly to take our drinks order, which was good but not so good when I asked my daughter what she would like to drink and I informed her she could have a fruit shoot or milkshake as I looked at the kids menu. She quickly responded milkshake and then the greeter asked her if she wanted an ice-cream one or carton? Well what child is not going to say ice-cream? But when they cost £3.49 in comparison to the child’s drink of £1.60 I was not impressed. You do not upsell to a child, it felt like a cheap shot.
The drinks arrived with us quickly and were all fine, in fact throughout the meal our refillable soft drinks were filled often and when we asked for water, a jug and 5 glasses were bought over so there was no issues with the drinks. It did seem a bit of a shame when my husband looked at the kids menu later and pointed out to me a squash or milk was included in the price and no-one had pointed this out, just allowing us to order drinks at an extra cost for the children.
Our waitress seemed very nice and she introduced herself as Meggie, she took our order about 20 minutes after us being seated and we waited about 15 minutes for the first course to arrive. In total we were in the restaurant for two hours and this is longer than we wanted to be there. Our main course did not make an appearance until about 6.10pm and considering we only had nachos and garlic bread as starters it seemed like a long wait.
In general the food we received was pretty good, the girls were very happy with their nachos or garlic bread starters and my husband’s nachos were fine, although the same size as my daughters portion. My son and I ordered nachos to start and asked for them to be changed when they came out as they were covered in chopped onion, tomato and chillies, none of which we like. I think perhaps this is the problem with the daytime value menu that we ordered from, it lacks detail, so you are ordering blind on some menu options. We did find that Meggie handled us sending the nachos back very well and was accommodating.
JJ and myself loved our main courses, JJ reported that his burger and skinny chips were excellent (£7.99 plus an extra 59p for cheese and bacon from the Daytime Value Menu) and I really enjoyed my smothered chicken with thrice fried chips, coleslaw and side salad, which was £10.99 on the main menu. My husband had the Rump steak, which was a real disappointment – very chewy and at £10.29 on the daytime value menu it's not cheap and you'd be even more disappointed if you paid the regular menu price of £13.79.
Miss M ordered spaghetti Bolognese, garlic bread and a corn cobette and Miss E had grilled chicken, mash and baked beans. We did have to laugh at the tiny, tiny portion of beans she was given though, it was one of those tiny sauce pots. Both girls were full at the end of their main course but I am very glad I let JJ order from the main menu as the meals are not designed for an 11 year old.
In general the Mr Men & little Miss kids menu is really good value and has loads of choice. It is £4.49 for 1 course and squash (or change it for milk if you prefer), £5.49 for 2 courses and squash or 3 courses and squash are just £5.99 which feels like great value. It is a nice touch too that if you have a 3 course meal they will donate 20p to the Great Ormond Street hospital. Your child can choose from 4 starters, 11 mains including steak, spaghetti bolognese, sausage and mash or create your own pizza and there is a whole host of sides to go with them. Then you can finish off with one of 4 desserts including cookies and ice cream.
My husband decided not to have a dessert and JJ and I both opted for a warm brownie with chocolate sauce and ice-cream from the daytime value menu, this meant they were just £2.69 each which was excellent value. We both really enjoyed our dessert. As quite a lot of time had gone by we decided not to have hot drinks to finish as it was time to get the kids home so I asked for the bill.
Well what a faff it all was. First off the girls had not been charged for the 3 course menu but for each course separately making it 50p more expensive for each of them and we had been charged for a jug of squash that we had not ordered. I explained about this and the waitress took it away to amend, the bill then came back correct and I was happy with it and Meggie took the £50 voucher I had to process. Then the bill came back again and had been reduced from just over £65.00 to £17.60 and I asked how £65 minus £50 could possibly be anything other than £15 but Meggie tried to persuade me it was definitely right as the reduction for the girl’s inclusive meals was shown at the bottom. Upon checking it turned out that another portion of onion rings had been added in, so I pointed that out and it was amended agin. Then when Meggie came back to the table she asked me ‘Is that OK, or is anything else wrong for you?’ I don’t know about you but this sounded pretty rude to me and I was offended. She skipped straight past the option for me to be able to leave a tip on my credit card and then a lack of cash and annoyance at her comment meant I didn’t leave a tip, a pretty rare occurrence for someone who worked in this industry for years.
Overall, the actual food we ate was fine (with the exception of dh’s main course) but our meal experience was spoilt by the very surly greeter, slow service and a terrible experience with the bill. Will we go back? Yes, I’d give them another try as I’m not normally willing to write a restaurant off after one luke-warm experience. I’ve also eaten at other Beefeaters in the last couple of years and been really happy with them.
Have you been to a Beefeater recently? What was your experience like?
If you are thinking of trying out your local Beefeater you might be interested to know that children eat free with a paying adult (ordering from the main menu) Saturday 12 – 5pm and also that if you book a table after 5pm on Fathers Day, Sunday 21st June 2015 Dads can eat a free 6oz flat-iron steak meal when someone else orders a main meal.
Disclosure: We received a £50 voucher for the purpose of undertaking a review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.