prego location 3 panoramic shot_000

My bedroom, circa 1982, was never what you’d call appetising. A stark black and white MFI colour scheme, with red acne-softening strip lights and dead foliage, it was like somewhere Bucks Fizz would have hired for a photoshoot when they lost their way and went all Mad Max. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, it usually had me in it.

So imagine my surprise when, thirty years later, I find myself in a flashback – as Prego, Liverpool ONE lovingly recreated the 80s all over again. All I needed was some newsagent’s porn stuffed under the menus and a Kate Bush mirror and I’d have felt quite at home. Sadly, I wasn’t. I was far, far from home. And in a very strange land indeed. Certainly one without wood fired ovens, that’s for sure.

No, Prego doesn’t look good. It looks like a room set in a Belgian home furnishings store.

But it was our good fortune that we’d stumbled upon this hidden gem on a Monday night, when we could order a starter and a main for two, get 50% slashed off our price, and a free bottle of wine thrown in for bravery.

“We’ve been open two years,” sighed our waiter, “and we’re the best Italian restaurant in town, but no-one knows about us. Tell all your friends,” he says.

Well, friends…this is the worst Italian restaurant I’ve eaten in.

I’ve only myself to blame. If this was a film, the audience would have already been screaming at me when I was handed the tatty and ripped menus: “The place looks like your bedroom in 1982. It’s been open for two years. On Chavasse Park. And no-one knows about it. Don’t go down into the basement, you lanky fool.” The signs were there.

But down into the basement we go.

“The chef here is world class. He’s amazing,” purrs our waiter as he brings a bottle of house white (thin and tasteless. Like Victoria Beckham’s anorexic pret-a-porter collection. It was both ‘free’ and ‘overpriced’ at the same time.)

His ministrations threw me. I was only going to have a pizza. But, I thought, let’s try some pasta, and some antipasto and my unfortunate companion can tuck into the pizza. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, the garlic bread. Thin, dry and curiously metallic it would be better employed, stitched together, as body armour for our brave heroes. The oddest thing is that the restaurant presented this desiccated disc to us on some kind of podium: as if it had won first prize in some otherworldly culinary event.

My starter of mixed antipasto featured a lacklustre selection of sweaty cuts of fatty pig, an apology of olives and some of those pickled, serrated veg that look like the ones you find layered in fancy display bottles in John Lewis gifts. You know, with the labels marked “Not for eating, just to make your kitchen look wank” on them.

Just in case you’ve forgotten, we’re in the hands of a world class chef here. And, according to the restaurant’s website, “Prego Ristorante is the vision of a successful restaurateur from Southern Italy who cares passionately about the place and the food it produces.”

He does? Well maybe he’s out of the country, and his chef’s been deported. Yeah, maybe that’s it.

The Prego Pollo Fritto – chicken in breadcrumbs with barbeque sauce honestly made you re-evaluate Ronald McDonald’s place on the culinary map of the city. These bullets of gristle were burned, dry and unyielding – in another century they’d be used as lead shots in muskets. Although, sadly, we fear they’ll do more damage ingested. Two hours later and I can still feel my stomach pleading with my colon to take them off its hands.

It takes some chutzpah for an Italian restaurant to spectacularly fuck up a pizza. But fair play to Prego, they managed it with style.

You know those stodgy wheels of dough with a scraping of tomato sauce they used to call ‘Pizza’ and flog in Kwik Save, five for a tenner? Prego must have panic-bought them on the last day.

Our Tropical Pizza’s base was a pale, damp, suppurating and foetid: it was like the flesh of that poor girl who was secreted in the drowned car in The Killing. At the edges, the crust raised up like some tectonic disaster, its burned, scarred and lifeless surface like something post apocalyptic – but at the middle, the congealed mass sunk inwards towards an event horizon of sheer terror. I’ve heard of a three cheese pizza. But a three states of matter one? That’s some going.

My Penne Prego was sickly, inauthentic and uninspiring. So it was aptly named. We didn’t have dessert.

As we were finishing up, a bunch of hungry and cheery souls entered and started to peruse the menus. My heart sank for them. It was all I could do to stop myself from going over and telling them to head to Zeligs (edit: which has sadly quietly closed in recent weeks, we’re told), or Pizza Express. Anywhere.

A few months ago, a SevenStreets writer posted a column about how we should be shouting out about Liverpool’s resurgent restaurant scene. I fretted about this at the time but let it go – hey, we’re a broad church. But no, I’m sorry, I have to disagree.

Yes, we have a handful of excellent restaurants in the city – but, honestly, are you using all your fingers to count them? I’m not. Lunch places, maybe, but somewhere great to go for dinner? Er, no, you’ve got me there.

Four lacklustre or plain awful meals in a row confirms my honestly held opinion: this city’s dining scene is at an all time low. That this place is still open, and relatively busy on our evidence, is shocking. Too many restaurants in town right now are either coasting on past glories, getting by on autopilot and auto-defrost, or cynically tarting up lowest-common-denominator ingredients in over-fluffed boudoir settings.

And you know what the most sickening part is? We’re eating in these places.

Prego
I’ll not bother giving you its details,
Liverpool


David Lloyd

  • Adam

    This is BRILLIANTLY written, I’m glad your suffering turned into our amusement at least

  • Dean

    Is the main photo the pizza you were served ? Why didn’t you send it back?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    I could have taken it back. But I thought of it all as public service. I took a pizza for the team, Dean.

  • Rob

    One clearly disappointing meal shouldn’t tar ALL the cities restaurants with the same brush – here’s a decently long off-the-top-of-my-head list of very good city centre places to eat :-

    Maharaja, Il Forno, Mayur, Masterchef, Yuet Ben, Bem Brasil, Lunya, Lucha Libre, Host, Italian Club Fish, Delifonseca, Panoramic (ouch,pricey though!), Salthouse Tapas, Da Capo, Leaf, Kasbah

  • K-B

    OUCH!

    I once went to go there with 5 friends on a Monday afternoon using my tastecard. I was cheerlessly informed that I should have called “several” hours before (which it didn’t say on the website). When I enquired about what several meant, (1, 2 or 3 hrs?!?), the waiter replied that “it depended how busy we are.”

    Sounds like I dodged the bullet. In the end we took our business to Zizi, got a cheerful welcome, only about £20 off the bill anyway & had 4 bottles of decent wine.

    At least competition has meant that poor restaurants with surly waiters plonking crap food on the table won’t be busy anymore. Let’s face it, if they were busy they wouldn’t be doing 50% off with a bottle of cheap plonk would they?

  • Richard

    Ha ha brilliant review, hysterical. Sounds like you KIND OF enjoyed it!

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Hey Rob – I love most of the places you’ve mentioned there. I don’t mean to tar the rest but, God, I’ve had some bad meals this year. Still, onwards….

  • Richard

    I left ‘Pool in 2004- seriously best restaurants for me then were Egg cafe and the cypriot one on Myrtle parade- priceless.

  • Rob

    “My starter of mixed antipasto featured a lacklustre selection of sweaty cuts of fatty pig” – sounds like a typical antipasto to me!

    Having dined at pretty much every Italian in the city I would disagree that this is the worst Italian restaurant (or even the worst restaurant) in town… although it comes pretty close.

    For a small city there is a lot of choice available in my opinion and I wouldn’t say we were at an all time low… Liverpool ONE is hardly the first choice on my list when looking for an excellent place to eat, more one of convenience!

    I look forward to your review of Red Hot Buffet.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown
  • Rob (A different one)

    Following from previous post, you’ve had another Rob posted! I am a different Rob, but have to admit, we Rob’s think alike! The Quarter deserves a mention in that list. Although ‘Masterchef’ the Indian Rob? Hmm.. have to say it wasn’t the best experience last time I went there. Also have to give a mention to The Hub and Hanover Street Social (although both pricey..)

  • Gaz Twigger

    I’ve eaten in there several times and always had good meals..(admitted, never tried the pizza). I think Zeligs closed down a month ago…well, they’re either closed or not very busy at all..!! Bellini’s is the place to head for a great Italian nosh up.

  • Rob (A different one)

    @Robin

    Thanks! haha.. That was tongue in cheek comment.. My point is you can’t make judgements about the Liverpool dining scene after a visit to a restaurant in Liverpool ONE. I actually presumed PREGO was some sort of chain although I can’t find any evidence on Google.

    Last time I went to PREGO we used the tastecard and I ordered a steak which was cooked perfectly.. I can’t comment on the Pasta/Pizza dishes. 🙂

  • Rob (A different one)

    Have you a review of Carluccios yet? First visit a few weeks ago, Pasta very undercooked… sent back, next plate again undercooked (not just al dente)! Was disappointed with the experience…

  • Helen

    Funniest article I’ve read in a while! Nice one, Dave!

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown

    @Rob Fair does. We do review a lot of restaurants though, so we’re not just going off that one.

    Re: Carluccios – we’ve got something in the pipeline. Personally I wasn’t impressed.

  • http://www.p3dro.co.uk P3dro

    Just as well you didn’t tell them to go to Zelig’s – it closed a while back. Shame, ’cause I liked that place.

    Nice piece of writing – never been to Prego, so can’t comment on the food, but I did laugh at “both ‘free’ and ‘overpriced’ at the same time”.

    I have some sympathy with Rob’s comment, though – there are plenty of very good eating places in Liverpool and we should champion them. Although, you’re right to expose the shite too.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    I didn’t know Zelig’s had gone. It was closed tonight, I noticed. Shame – decent enough place. Yeah, I go to every restaurant in the hope of a good meal and a good review. It’s not a cheap thing to do! That’s the sad thing, I’ve had a bad run.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Rob, Prego has a branch in Aintree, opposite the retail park. If you want to go, please, let us know! (D)

  • Ellis

    Oddly enough (with it being a popular bar and all) I still think the peacock does the best pizza in the city, well worth a review/face-filling.

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  • Christine Hornby

    Oh yes please review RedHot Buffet! Not been to Prego but I reckon you’d be likening it to El Bulli afta a nite in RHB.

  • whl

    The waiter sighed because he was just doing his/her job, and I am sure they hate working there…yet I do believe it must have been pretty nasty. I personally detest supporting any chain restaurants, especially those in L1, Pesto is the worst by far. I think Seven Streets food reviews should encourage readers to spend £ in Liverpool, you just sound a bit grumpy.

  • Al

    I’d rather take a drive to Chester than eat in the mediocre restaurants Liverpool has to offer.

  • Alan

    A very funny article. I ate in this restaurant once. Once. The waitress was furious with our party for existing and cocked up every single order, and I mean every order. Every side dish, every main, every drink and even the bill was a work of fiction. Slightly pedantic point… Zeligs closed down about 2 months ago, if you’re fingers on the pulse, you should’ve known that.

  • http://terrylennaine.com Terry Lennaine

    Great article Dave – Brilliant!

  • Tom Lox

    Personally I’ve had some fantastic food in Prego. The fact that this ‘restaurant reviewer’ doesn’t even know Zelig’s closed down a couple of months ago shows his finger is far from being on the pulse of Liverpool culinary scene and maybe we should take this with a pinch of salt.

    I’ll ignore the fact the the reviewer knows the formula for more site hits consists of a healthy does of negativity as the major concern, it seems, was a burned pizza which, granted, doesn’t look appealing.

    However the rest of the story is simply nitpicking and personal opinion polished with an opulent talent for words.

    The real title for this story should be “My Pizza Got Overcooked And I Decided To Shittily Review It Instead Of Sending It Back. – Whoa Is Me.”

  • Will

    Rob @ 9.37 – you missed the Monro and Etsu off your list. Amusing review, always thought this was a chain because of its L1 location, glad I’ve swerved it so far. How about a road test of the Casa Italia, that Liverpool institution? I’ve always considered it stodge city but many would disagree…

  • Anna Machell

    Jamie’s Italian is magic, I’ve had nothing but gorgeousness there, but sadly no pizza.

  • Anna Machell

    Oh, best value pizza in town: Tribeca on Berry St.

  • http://www.birgitdeubner.com Birgit

    Thank you SOOOO much! It’s been about time someone wrote a real (!) review. For years I’ve been reading non-sense about how amazing places are when in fact they were complete disasters (on the fronts: culinary AND service and occasionally audio, too…).
    mercie, mercie, mercie !

  • Granty

    On your way then Al, why don’t you move to fucking Chester while you’re at it?

  • Marcus

    I had no idea Zelig’s had closed down either, so it must have done so very quietly. It was a favourite of mine for a while, but was just too large for the amount of people that went there night to night.

    (and Tom – not knowing another restaurant has closed doesn’t detract from the fact the reviewer got a terrible meal. If you’ve ever read Sevenstreets before you’ll know its HONEST and done both positive and negative reviews, rather than just shamelessly trolling for hits)

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown

    For anyone who’s interested in reading more of our food and drink coverage, you can find more here:

    http://www.sevenstreets.com/food-and-drink/

    Jamie’s Italian, Tribeca, Red Hot Buffet, Delifonseca, Lunya, Salthouse Tapas, Maharaja, Mayur, Kasbah and more reviewed – can’t guarantee they’ll all be funny though. Also the absolutely stunning Da Piero.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    the peacock’s pizzas are gorgeous, yep. Had one the day it opened, and not eaten there since. Shame on me. And Tom, I’m just a punter reviewing restaurants, not a ‘restaurant reviewer’. We’re just spending our cash and letting our mates know what it was like. You might have had better experiences there, but this is an honest review of mine. And the pizza was MUCH better than the chicken nuggets, to be honest.

  • Stairhands

    Anna, completely agree, never had a bad pizza in Tribeca. And, last time I was there, they all cost just £6, even the seafood ones! Have to say I’m not surprised about Prego… I’ve never had a good value meal in a chain restaurant in Liverpool. Stick to places like Italian Club Fish and everyone will be happier!

  • Revo

    The new Italian in the Met Quarter is pretty bad, food poisoning etc, but the worst restaurant is A Passage To India who steal from their customers… having to bring the Police to a restaurant following your very average meal is just so far from being acceptable…

  • kraig

    TRIBECA!

  • Matt

    @Tom Lox, “Whoa is me” I like that, it is how Bill & Ted would say, excellent (/does air guitar).
    The reviewer is right though, the food there is shockingly poor. Ate there a few few weeks ago, never again.

  • amy

    piccolinos!!!!!

  • Steve L

    I hope you’ve got a good lawyer

  • http://www.roymccarthy.com Roy McCarthy

    I had a decent pizza in the big Kimo’s last Sunday. Nice and thin, with anchovy and garlic. I wouldn’t normally choose a pizza there, as the Molokhia usually catches my eye first, but I felt like something lighter. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

    To be honest, I only ended up in Kimo’s because Vooo was playing some kind of techno so loud I had to leave within about a minute of getting through the door. It was a shame, because Vooo had been recommended to me by an Iranian friend and I really wanted to see if it was any good.

    While I’m on the subject, are there any plans to review Zagros (or have I missed it)? I always find the staff there are really friendly and the food is good, honest stuff (especially the kashk bademjan and the olivieh). It always seems empty when I go in there, though. Perhaps they could use some publicity?

  • Nicola M

    That is absolutely hilarious. Brilliantly written!

  • http://www.thelittleredcourgette.co.uk ChristinaMc

    “A few months ago, a SevenStreets writer posted a column about how we should be shouting out about Liverpool’s resurgent restaurant scene.”

    Errr…yeah. That would be me. In fairness, my piece was more general rather than just focusing on our restaurants, and I still stand by it. I do think that there’s a lot of good places to eat in the city – although having had a few mediocre meals since writing that column, I do fear that they’ll become increasingly overshadowed by the bad.

    Loved the review though. David – the restauranteurs of Liverpool should be trembling in your wake. And that pizza looks worse than the ones I used to buy for £1 from Costcutters back when I was a student.

  • The Rob at 9.37, henceforth Rob da Goth

    @ Other Rob – Masterchef is generally spot on for me – only be going there for 20 years though …!

    @ everyone else – yup I missed a few … but that emphasises my point I think, there is still quality out there and compared to say, 10 years ago, quantity too!

  • Rob

    A well-crafted but rather brutal hatchet job of a review.

    I realise you’re “not a restaurant reviewer” but smiling and accepting your food in the restaurant and then tearing into a place once you’re out of the door isn’t really on – I’m making the assumption you didn’t make the staff aware of your dissatisfaction with the food? If you did I apologise. However, you’re well within your rights to punt something back, if it’s lacking in quality, and walk out if they can’t resolve it to your satisfaction.

    If you’re going to tear into somewhere to this degree, that’ll likely have an impact on their income, I’d say that at the very least they should have been made aware that you were dissatisfied with their food at the time and given a chance to rectify it. Especially given you’ve got the presence of mind to Tweet out whilst you’re consuming the “worst meal in Liverpool” and “taking one for the team”. Whilst I recognise the analogy, it’s not exactly the same as “letting your mates know what it’s like”. Seven Streets has a considerable reader base, so the impact of that can’t be ignored, professional reviewer or not.

    I’m not defending Prego specifically but more any restaurant, cafe or eatery, or bar. If a member of staff asks you how your food is (as they hopefully would have) and you accept it, smile, pay and walk out, then at least part of blame for your poor experience rests with you. It’s akin to ordering a pint, finding it’s bad and powering through regardless, then blaming the bar entirely.

    By venturing into a restaurant or eatery, I realise you should be able to expect a certain level of quality to be delivered by default, but honestly it’s a chain restaurant, in Liverpool one, hooking you in with half-price scran and free wine. I rather wonder from your comment about the lack of good restaurants in the city, and the assertion that Liverpool has great lunch places, but fails to provide decent evening meals, if your expectations are a little skewed, relative to the venues you’re dining in. After all, a place that provides good food at lunch, should churn out good scran for an evening meal, unless you’re suddenly expecting world-class fine dining due to the hour?

    I’d agree that Liverpool doesn’t have restaurants on par with the finest in the world, but again, to my eye, most of them aren’t claiming to be anything approaching that.

    I’ve eaten in Prego a couple of times (once at lunch, on their cheapo menu, and once on a weekend), both times were decent enough – on par with Ask, Zizzi (both of which aren’t fantastic), but maybe I was lucky. For me, Prego promises a shiny, crass experience of a chain Italian restaurant and delivers it to a pretty decent level, but maybe my food barometer is totally off.

  • fifofum123

    The problem with many of the restaurants in Liverpool is that they are all fur coat and no nickers. For budget to middle-range restaurants, London is actually cheaper. As for the likes of Panaromic and 60 Hope Street, there are Michelin starred- restaurants in the capital which are less expensive. On the whole, most places offer bad value for money – something which Liverpudlians seem to accept as part of the restaurant-going experience.

    The really popular places — such as Puschka, The Quarter, 60 Hope Street and even Delifonesca — are not that great, given the way that people rave about them.

    Cheap ethnic restaurants are thin on the ground, but Selam Cafe (Eritrean), Azagros (Persian) on London Road and Sahara (Lebanese) are highlights for me: unpretentious and authentic food. Can anyone suggest any further restaurants in this vein?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Rob, Prego isn’t a chain restaurant. It’s a Liverpool restaurant – with just two branches.
    There is a point below which you realise a restaurant has simply failed – and no amount of taking things back to be reheated, or reordered, is going to rectify things. This pizza base was so bad that, save for a complete overhaul of their perceptions and ingredients, nothing would have salvaged it. The raw materials were poor – not the presentation of them. Same with the wine. It was what it was. Now, you’re right, we could have complained – but a restaurant must be judged on what it delivers, first time, to its customers because, sadly, many people just don’t have the balls to complain: and restaurants rely on this, and thus, standards are driven down. If we’d have reviewed our replacement meals what sort of an honest review would that be? Those meals left the pass with the chef’s approval: that, in itself, is testament to something, surely?
    By great lunch/dining divide – I mean that there is a difference between cheap, fast and cheerful places you’d happily spend a tenner in, and places that go up a couple of gears of an evening (and their prices to match) where you’d happily spend the evening in. I can think of many great examples of the former, but few of the latter. At least, not enough. I don’t think your food barometer is off, I just think restaurants that aren’t consistent should up their game. Because we shouldn’t be playing russian roulette with our pasta! Cheers for the comment.

  • Marcus

    @Rob – the fact is, food should be never sent out like this in the first place, regardless of when it’s served, or what kind of offer is on. And especially not eateries that are part of a shiny shopping district in a city that’s meant to be making progress. Restaurants aren’t there to get the food right after a couple of tries. Somewhere like Prego, which serves the same menu day in day out, should be a well-oiled machine now it’s had time to settle in to Liverpool One.

    I agree with the sentiment of this review – I’ve had a lot of disappointing meals in the city lately, and I’m not sure why that is. Maybe people are just too polite to complain.

  • Grethe Borsum

    I agree with Tom and Rob here. I can think of many places that deserve ‘Worst restaurant in Liverpool” and Prego is definitely not among them. I am always taken well care of there and if you go for the real dishes and not the offers, you’re in for a treat! They have a special oven just for the steak, making it the most tender and juicy fillet you’ll have in all of Liverpool! I dare you to go back and try it. You will not be sorry.
    They have some beautiful and exciting wine options (again, we’re not talking about the wine-deals) but the selections in the wine menu. The waiters know exactly which pairs with what dish. If you would be so unlucky as to have a reason to complain, they immediately resolve the issue, you get a personal apology from the chef and perhaps even a surprise treat to compensate for the hiccup.

    I know they work very hard in Prego as I go there often. The owner is very passionate about what he does and continuously add and experiment with new dishes and wines. I understand you had a bad experience and this is your personal opinion – but your choice of words and platform to express them from will cause more harm than good. It’s a shame to squander the name of a place with such a big heart as Prego.

  • Nicki

    I went to Zeligs about 3 years ago.and it was THE worst restaurant experience of my life. It was the only Liverpool One restaurant I have ever eaten in for that very reason. Im not surprised it closed. David, I understand Rob’s point but completely agree with you. If the chef is happy to.send out substandard, burnt food first time around, why should you give them a second chance? More people should speak out.about their bad experiences, simply in the.hope that restaurants will up their game.

  • Rob ~

    (Will add a ~ to differentiate me)

    Fifofum –

    I agree that’s a massive problem really, and not helped when the quality is dragged down, possibly as a result of high-end restaurants being mediocre, as you say. 60 Hope street is decent enough, but equally I rate as the most disappointing meal I’ve had, given the build up people had given it.

    In the subject of smaller venues, I rather like Elif, but do find that rather lively in terms of price.

    David –

    My mistake; I had a glance on Google, spotted another Prego Italian in Bristol and assumed ‘chain‘. However my comments were more to do with my initial impression and the expectation of what was to be received from the outward appearance of a shiny Liverpool One restaurant.

    Can I ask if you did make any comment to the staff as to the quality of the food? Or was it “OK”, Fine etc? Was the service any cop? A mark of good service to me is not only the swiftness, but how they deal with any problems, as you do get them to different degrees, even at the best restaurants.

    I agree that part of what a restaurant should be judged on what it delivers first time, but also the whole experience. Consistency after all is some of what makes the best restaurants the best, so yes that’s a big part of it, but again to me there are expected degrees of consistency between high-end restaurants and generic ‘chain quality’ restaurants.

    With regard to what sort of review it would have been if you’d reviewed your replacement meals – I’d say no less honest, and in fact a much stronger, well-rounded and less sensational review. It would have less impact certainly, but to me would feel more complete, and justified in the wholesale trashing you gave the restaurant. If they’d been given a chance to rectify the problem and failed, then trash away!

    To clarify; I’d in no way suggest that you should have sent the food back and then ignored that part of the experience ‘letting them get away with it’. Nor would I expect you to exclude the fact you had to flag it up. At least then we would know if they dealt with the mistake and delivered passable / good food, or if even after being made aware of their mistake they still failed to deliver. Bad wine, for instance, is something that’s usually pretty easy to resolve, quickly without any argument from staff?

    I have to admit, I do struggle with the notion that the food was so terrible that there’s no way they can make decent food, short of going back to formula. I realise it does happen (I had a similar experience at the no longer with us ‘Dinomat’, actually going back a second time as I didn’t believe it could be so bad), but as you say yourself, the fact the place is busy and still here after two-years would have made me at least a little curious as to what they’re doing right. My own experiences tend to suggest they can at least turn out decent post-shopping scran.

    I realise that a lot of people don’t complain in restaurants, but in all honesty walking out of a place without even a vague indication that you’re not happy doesn’t help that, especially promoting that course of action in a review. If anything more people should realise that by passing a simple comment things generally do happen, if only if that’s flagging up to the chef that the person working a certain station isn’t up to scratch.

    I agree entirely that we shouldn’t be playing food roulette and it is an unfortunate part of the dining experience, but I do believe that places should be given a fair shout before being totally written off.

    My own pre-mature trashing of a place and much bemoaned “worst meal of the city” was actually in Lunya soon after it opened. I was guilty of writing it off without a second thought, as the quality of the food we received so poor it couldn’t get better. Now I’m happy to say I’ve had a couple of half-decent meals in there.

    At the end of the day, I guess my point is really that it’s a good review, but it’s just a shame it couldn’t be rounded off totally with a nail in the coffin or a brief ray of hope, just by knowing how they’d respond when told you weren’t happy.

  • Rob ~

    Marcus – (sorry you posted whilst I was typing)

    I agree that it should never be sent out, but mistakes happen.

    I unfortunately ramble far too much :/ …. I agree with the sentiment of the review equally, but the crux of my point is really a question as to whether trashing a place without making them aware that you’re dissatisfied is the best course of action?

    I guess I just think that by complaining / making them aware of it, we’d hopefully let them know that something was up, or make them aware that it’s bothering more people. Furthermore, as I tried to get across above, based on their response we’d also hopefully be able to make a conclusion about the place one way or another.

  • Alice

    The fact of the matter is I trust Seven Streets. People might have had good meals there, but what you get with this site is the facts – not like a review in the Echo or something. So it’s immeterial whether people disagree, all you can say about David’s review is that it’s honest. Well, and it’s bloody hilarious too, which is a bonus 😉

  • Sir Duke

    Rob, I don’t know why you’re so hung up on whether he complained or not, even the act of complaining to my mind ruins the whole experience. Who wants the fuss of complaining and waiting to get a replacement when they’re just after a quick bite? Not this diner. I think the website has acquited itself fairly in this matter. I’ve eaten in Prego, it was decidedly average, and I’ve never been back. Even crappy restaurants can tick over for a while – look at Zelig’s, it was nothing special but hobbled on for years because of where it was. Rob, take a look at that pizza – that’s not a good advert for the place is it?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown

    Getting by on autopilot is the nub of this review for me – if you’re sending out something that looks as awful as that pizza does you’re not even trying. In fact it’s worse than that – you simply don’t care.

    All eateries have off days – I’ve been startled to find quite a few big names (some mentioned in the comments) turn out lazy, badly/made or simply very bad meals) of late. And service? What an astonishing mixed bag that is.

    I go out for a meal quite a lot and have my favourites (Salthouse Tapas, Lunya, Etsu – Viva Brazil and Bellini were very impressive recently) but that mid-Market where you’re looking for decent, quick, affordable food is a curious blind spot in the city centre (Liverpool one and north anyway). Auto pilot sums it up pretty well – and if you’re a paying customer I don’t think that’s good enough.

  • Andy Baker

    Anything for a free meal chief ! lol

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Rob – I’m guilty as charged. I didn’t complain. If I’d have been eating there without reviewing it I’d have been kicking off. But that’s how I’ve decided to review: sit down, eat it, report back. And that’s how I review every place: on what it gives me without complaining. Which means that all restaurants are reviewed equally and fairly. Every review system needs a criteria. That’s mine. Might not suit you, but that’s fine. And Andy – I pay for everything! (which, I know, makes a change for me)

  • Rob ~

    Sir Duke

    Sorry, I’m not hung up on it, as much as I am clarifying why I stated it in the first place. In the first instance it’s merely as explained, that I’d want to know all the facts before effectively labelling somewhere as the worst restaurant in the city on a popular website. From a review I want the whole picture, not just a picture of one pizza.

    The reason I offered constructive criticism in the way I did, is I felt David’s review, whilst good, would have been stronger had he fed back to Prego his dissatisfaction, and we now knew the outcome of that. It would have also been refreshing to see someone giving a bad restaurant some critical feedback, maybe giving readers of the review a reminder that it’s ok to complain, something that some restauranteurs need to remember if Revo’s comment is anything to go by.

    I like the fact, on Seven Streets, that I’ve passed a comment and David has responded, swiftly with good grace. It is after all, his review and his style of review. I’m just offering an opinion that it could be more rounded.

    Like Alice, I trust Seven Streets for nice impartial reviews that are straight and to the point. However for me, it’s not immaterial if people disagree with the review. For example, if five people have had good meals somewhere and a reviewer has a bad one, does that mean that it’s a bad restaurant? If you read through the comments, you’ll see several places flagged up as good places to eat by some, then slated by others for a single terrible experience they’ve had there.

    I get what you’re saying about not wanting a fuss, which is fair enough – I don’t like complaining in restaurants, and rarely do it unless something is really off. However, people make mistakes. You’ve eaten there yourself, and had an average meal, but I’m guessing it wasn’t anywhere near as poor as the one reviewed? To my eyes there’s quite a big difference between ‘nothing special’ as you refer to Zeligs, and ‘bad’.

    Certainly if I were to label somewhere in such a way that it could terminally impact their business, I’d expect it to be worse than decidedly average. After all, the average restaurant in a city is by definition mid-table isn’t it?

    David –

    Fair play fella. You’re obviously doing it off your own coin, and like the man Sir Duke says above; no one wants stress when you’re out trying to enjoy some new scran.

    I’m a geek so take a rather more OCD approach to everything, including often unnecessary amounts of caution with wanting every angle covered. Like I say, as a result of this I’ve ended up going back to terrible restaurants “to give them another chance”. In some cases e.g. Lunya it pays off, in others e.g. Dinomat I should have taken your approach and trusted my first impression.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    I almost always go back, Rob, for sure. And if it’s changed I’ll say so: there’s a few examples of that on here. Trouble is, there is so much to do (and we run this site in our spare time, as a hobby. Masochists that we are) it’s really hard to get a 360 view point on everything. There are merits in the snapshot, seat of pants review, and there are merits in judging a place on its reputation and consistency. But in my simplistic world view, you’re only as good as your worst meal! Happy eating out there. Tread carefully.

  • Steve L

    I suspect calling something the “worst restaurant in Liverpool” might make for lively interaction in the libel courts, should the owner of Prego care to take that route. But then as you admit you just do this in your spare time as a hobby, ypu could always plead total ignorance.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    I didn’t call it the worst restaurant in Liverpool, Steve. I asked a question. So I’ll plead Punctuation.

  • mark

    Valparaiso on Hardman Street – one of the best restaurants in town, never gets a mention.

    fifofum123 – try Raggas, if you haven’t already!

  • http://liverpoolrestaurants.wordpress.com Sid

    Wow, it’s really kicked off in here, I’m just glad that David hasn’t been likened to Hitler or called a Nazi yet.

    As a local food blogger and a writer for sevenstreets, I really do agree with David on the most part. It looks to me like a terrible meal, I would have given a similar scathing review had I been there. Also I wouldn’t have complained for the same reasons David made above.

    I do disagree with the comment about good places for an evening meal, I believe there are plenty of good restaurants in the mid price brackets. See my previous article at new year for my view on Liverpool’s fine dining restaurants.

    The most important thing I think this thread highlights is consistency, which has always been a problem for me in Liverpool. Sometimes places are great and others not so great, the night you visit can really effect the quality of the meal you receive. This is something you can’t legislate for as someone about to write a review. I, not too long ago, had quite a poor meal at Puschka and said so on my blog. This is a 10 year old restaurant with a strong following so it must be doing something right. However, I couldn’t just agree with what I had heard and say it was good, I had to write about the food that appeared in front of me, and that is what I did.

  • Rob ~

    Sid –

    I’d agree regarding consistency. I think part of my ‘issue’ is that I’ve got such poor expectations of constancy from local restaurants these days. Even my favourites have let me down from time to time. I just sort of expect it more often than not now.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the article on fine dining restaurants btw.

  • linziloop

    Bravo! Really amusingly written article 😀

    My partner and I always struggle to find somewhere good to eat in Liverpool, especially so if you want something healthy and vegetarian. Usually stick to the ‘usual’ three or four places for food – and two of them are out in Lark Lane. This is getting boring.

    That pizza looks worse than something you would get a 4am dropped on the floor around Concert Square. Yuk.

  • Ellis

    Just stopped by to say that this thread is amazing. Can anyone spot the PR person in the comments?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    oh yes, Ellis. Our PR ears are MASSIVE. (in direct proportion to our PR Party Invites book. That’s TINY)

  • Chris Carney

    “an apology of olives” :o)

  • James

    Don’t get me wrong, if food I was served at any restaurant was totally unacceptable I would send it back and go elsewhere, however generally when I just get poor food or poor service somewhere I don’t complain at the time, but simply I don’t leave a tip and never go back there again, and I think this is not uncommon?

    Before I get lectures about how we should complain more etc, etc, I don’t want to hear that, I don’t want to complain more – my simple point is that this is the way I (and I feel a lot of people) experience restaurants, and so why should someone think a review ought not to be written in the same way, from the same uncomplaining perspective? I don’t understand.

    Also, do you have a better picture of the “garlic bread podium” you describe? And do you know if Lakeland sell them?

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    Good point well made sir. Alas, the garlic bread podium (or, really the poppadum podium would be closer) is something you’re going to have to picture in your imagination only. Unless, of course, you decide to go and see it for yourself…

  • Kaya

    I have been to Prego a couple of times and had a lovely experience. When I could not decide what wine to have, the waiter let us taste two wines and gave his opinion of which one he thought we should have if we were going for fish, which we were. It was quite tasty; the portion was generous and the fish was fresh (which is not always the case in Lpool restaurants..)

    I’ve also had pasta in there and enjoyed that too, although that time there were a terribly loud table that made the experience less enjoyable.

    Funnily enough, the worst restaurant experience I’ve had in town was at the Hub, which you recommend. They were completely inattentive, the food was cold and bland (well the dishes they got right, which was only 2 out of four) and we were all served at different times even though we ordered together. The manager came over and said they were just opened and we did get a free bottle of wine as an apology. Have been back since and it was fine. Hopefully for Prego they will do a better job next time as it is a shame with all these bland L1 chain restaurants (of which I thought Zalig’s was a part of).

    I suspect the “question” was also prompted by your waiter saying they are “the best in Liverpool”, as it would have put the bar very high when delivering a sub-standard meal with a side of apathetic service.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com David Lloyd

    It’s such a fraught and delicate task, reviewing restaurants. The experience -as we can all agree, can be so wildly inconsistent. All we can ever do is report what happened to us, on that day. It’s like Delifonseca – I’ve rarely had a bad meal there, but one of our other writers went and it was, by all accounts, a very off day. That happens. I don’t know what the answer is, really. I suppose I should go back. But it was honestly so bad I don’t think I could face it. I agree, though, I want Liverpool businesses to do well – and see more of them in Liverpool ONE. But, on this evidence, if I want a quick Italian lunch I’ll go to Zizzi, not Prego next time. Shame.

  • http://www.sevenstreets.com Robin Brown
  • Laura D

    I am delighted your meal was so bad as it made for a very entertaining review. crap restaurant – great writing

  • Pingback: Hit or Miss? | Sevenstreets()

  • Jane

    I had a very over-priced unremarkable meal at Prego in Aintree a few months ago; the place was cold in atmosphere AND temperature. The waiters were morose at best, rude at worst. Best of all, they played Time To Say Goodbye very loudly at 9.30pm……we were the only ones in the restaurant. Obviously an ‘early dart’ is more desirable than a loyal clientele!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.moore.946 Jane Moore

    A work colleague booked this place for a group of us. I told them about review but decision was to go anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to it but all I can say is they must have a new chef. Food was great, looked good, very tasty and our waiter was friendly. Our group and another couple were only ones there on a Thurs lunchtime, showing how much word of mouth and internet can spread the word! Well, time to spread new words, Give Prego another go, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • David Lloyd

    Ok, Jane. Tell you what – I’ll take you up on that. Watch this space…

  • Grumpy

    David, you deserve a medal for daring to tell it like it is. So off message about how wonderful restaurants are in Liverpool. Well to be honest it’s a quite a challenge to recommend a “worst” as so many of them are so often so poor.
    Some reviewers are perhaps easily impressed or lucky I believe.

  • Grumpy

    If it was overcooked then it shouldn’t have been served. They deserved the review.

  • lawlesschef

    Apparently rumour has it they are opening on South Road in the old Nicolas Site opp. LPK!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.masonelliott Mark Mason-Elliott

    I laughed so much I almost choked on my
    frozen horse lasagne.

  • Enzo

    My dad was born in Italy and a bit of my soul dies every time I eat in a place like Prego. Thanks for doing the honourable thing and calling them out. Great review!

  • mark

    you are a gobshite david

  • Richard

    Had to write a comment here, because I came across it looking for the website and I’m sure others will. I’ve been to this place a couple of times in the past year and a half and I didn’t share the same experience as David. I’m not saying it’s the best Italian in Liverpool by a long shot, but it’s not as bad as this article makes out. Steer clear of any of the deep fried starters though. If you can make it down there on a Monday, it’s half price food and a free bottle of wine – well worth a visit in my opinion.

  • T Roberts

    Has 62 Castle st gone pop already?