This week I took my eldest daughter Beth to the Ribble Pilot as part of Blog Preston’s best and worst restaurants series according to TripAdvisor. Situated on the Preston Docks, it is well placed for anyone visiting The Odeon cinema or Morrison’s. It also has the added attraction of outside seating, with the waters of the Ribble just a lamb kofta, sirloin steak and chicken burger’s throw away.
The Ribble Pilot has many poor reviews that mention, “microwaved food, cold plates, and dry meat”. There are mixed opinions with regard to the service, indicating that it varies with each individual member of staff.
We received a jolly welcome when we walked in, and were told to find a table and order food and drinks at the bar.
The restaurant is part of a chain, with daily offers in addition to every main meal being two-for-one. I chose a starter of lamb koftas, then grilled fish (a choice of cod or haddock) with chips and salad for a main course. Beth decided on a medium-well cooked sirloin steak and peppercorn sauce.
I was told that the fish wasn’t available, so I panic-ordered the buttermilk fried, chorizo-topped chicken burger with sour cream instead of barbecue sauce.
The koftas arrived quickly and were accompanied by a small pot of tzatziki, two small wraps and some salad leaves.
For £3.95 I wasn’t expecting much, but it tasted surprisingly good. It had a slight bouncy texture which is usually the result of cheap, mystery bulking ingredients, but I tried not to think about that.
The mains arrived soon after the starter plate was cleared. My chicken burger was doused in barbecue sauce so I had to take it to the bar to ask for it to be changed, but the lady at the bar gave a friendly apology and it was replaced quickly.
Whilst I was waiting I happened to look down at the carpet under the window and was dismayed to see a crumpled tissue and several unmistakable slug trails meandering along the length of the room.
Not something one would want to see in a restaurant, although the table, chairs and condiments were spotless which gave me a little reassurance.
Beth’s meal looked appetising. However, the steak turned out to be very well done, and almost supernaturally dry. I should probably have just dropped it where the slugs were getting in, so it could solve the restaurant’s damp problem like a dehumidifier.
The sauce was no help as the chef had clearly mixed up the jar of peppercorns with the jar containing essense of beige.
There were three big chicken strips and a chorizo sausage ring on the chicken burger, the chips were inoffensive and there was a little pot of coleslaw to go with it. This also looked deceptively appetising.
The chorizo ring was just a long, skinny orange saveloy that had curled up on itself in shame. The taste of the chicken strips was tolerable, but the texture was dreadful. They were obviously made of meat that had been “chopped and shaped”. I always try to avoid that type of processing because I start worrying that it was made from several different chickens that might not even have liked each other.
I was helped out by Beth who ate one of the strips quite happily as all chicken is good chicken as far as she’s concerned. She offered some of her steak in return, but I didn’t want my eyeballs to dehydrate as I tried to chew it.
Read more: How a meat eaters paradise lurks just outside Preston
We left almost all of our main courses. The “two for the price of one” gimmick is a clever way to sell poor quality food to polite English people. When it’s presented like a generous offer we are less likely to complain that we aren’t satisfied. The steak was priced at £14.95 with an additional £1.50 for the beige sauce. The chicken burger was £12.75 on the menu. At that price every meal would be sent back.
I agree with the TripAdvisor reviews about the dreadful food. However, the service from the three staff members who served us was wonderful. To keep smiling when they are constantly apologising to customers for the standard of food isn’t an easy thing to do, and for that they deserve credit.
Read more: Frankie and Benny’s lives up to its poor TripAdvisor reviews
Have you eaten at Ribble Pilot? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.