I went to the Bengal Clipper last night with five colleagues. Maybe not being suited and booted was the problem, but as soon as we walked in the door it went from bad to worse.
The waiter refused to take orders for our main course, insisting on taking starters only at first. He walked around the table virtually demanding to know what we wanted, shouting 'next' between each person.
The starters arrived - my chicken was tasteless and mediocre to say the least. The plates were virtually snatched from us seconds after we put our cutlery down, and off they rushed again without the chance of ordering main course.
Finally we persuaded a waiter to take our main course order. All the dishes arrived within 15-20 minutes, and were randomly chucked on the table without a care for who ordered what.
Again once we'd just about finished our main course, we were asked if we were ok and wanted a taxi. This continued for the next twenty minutes whilst we finished our drinks and chatted, with sometimes the same waiter reappearing within 2-3 minutes asking if he could order us a taxi.
The service was absolutely atrocious - I've never been treated so badly in a restaurant in London. The food was nothing special, and by the time I'd paid the nearly £200 bill I was feeling a little short changed on my experience.
I'll try and give them another chance sometime, perhaps if I put a suit on instead of smart casual they'll treat me with a little more respect.
I'm puzzled, why would you want to give them another chance after service like that? It's not as if you thought the food was fab and therefore worth putting up with poor serice. Would you find the place ok if they treated you better in a suit I certainly wouldn't
I've been three or four times over the past five years or so. I think the food is quite good, but have always felt the service left a great deal to be desired. Staff in restaurants should respect customers until the customers do something to convince them otherwise - and not the other way round.
There are no end of Indian restaurants in SE1 worth trying where you won't be treated rudely, rushed, or given the hard sell on behalf of a taxi firm! See the restaurant review section.
If you are treated in surly manner, with legitimate requests for service refused (i.e. asking to order the main meal at the beginning) then you are likely under the Goods and Services Act to be entitled to leave without paying or pay an amount you feel appropriate (e.g. minus the service charge; or a more arbitrary fraction) - leave your name and address. Best to complain to the manager first though.
Obviously in a lot of social situations this is embarassing but it is worth considering especially if you're fed up early on by the improper service.
The British have genes per-programmed to make them polite in restaurants, regardless of how badly they are being treated - it's just our way. Americans, on the other hand, will not take bad service under any circumstances - and quite right to. Seen some nice American ladies turn into rottweilers if they don't get exactly the service the expect - good on 'em!
My favourite ever restaurant one liner was said by a fierce NYC girl friend of mine. We were in a tatty little cafe having a fry up and she complained that the milk was warm. I told her not to be so fussy as we were in a greasy spoon and she said: 'Are we here to eat, or make friends?'
At the same time spare a thought for my poor BF who is waiting tables locally on the busiest night of the year... Its also the night where people who dont know how to eat out, eat out. Eeek.