I don’t think I’ve written a negative blog post review so far, and this day wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed time spent with great friends and we had a laugh.
I used to be a regular diner at Bella Italia Norwich Red Lion Street until a couple of Christmases ago and an awful works do. Long story short food was late, some never coming at all, I was told avocados are supposed to be brown ‘that’s what happens’ (yes only when they’ve been sitting around for a while unpeeled!). We were seated at a table right at the far end of the restaurant with an obstacle course of diners for me to interrupt and chairs to push in, even after me confirming with them twice that I needed an easily accessible table for my wheelchair.
Anyway that’s in the past and I don’t hold grudges (for long anyway!), so decided to revist for lunch with friends this week. What better time to make ammends than when you’ve got a 50% off deal (these smart phones have some smart apps).
I’m glad I had this 50% off as in a small way it compensates my experience. Just a tiny bit.
We arrived and I was kindly asked if I would like to stay in my wheelchair or sit on a regular seat. Now I know some wheelchair users can walk/transfer but I am not one of them. I realise why he asked though as there was hardly any space anywhere in the whole restaurant for a wheelchair! Even the toilet which you can read about here… but let’s continue for now.
Shown to our table I had to ask for another diner to move mid meal to let me through. Now he seemed willing enough and didn’t appear annoyed, however this is not the point. He is enjoying his experience and his food (maybe), and I feel rude interrupting him. It’s not his fault he sat where he did, he didn’t know I was coming, and he didn’t design the poorly thought out seating plan. He’s just having lunch!
The place is busy but luckily there is a table still vacant that I can access. All the tables are extremely close together, once a chair is pulled out and customer seated I’m surprised that the servers can squeeze through to do their serving. No chance of me getting to most of the restaurant without people standing up to let me pass. I’m sure even the Queen finds people standing when she enters a room slightly embarrassing at times. It’s not something I enjoy!
The table itself was almost perfect for me to dine at. Height just right for me to get my knees under without the need to lower my chair, I could get close enough to eat at ease because there was just a small central leg. None of this rustic chunky wood stuff.
Having ordered and starting to chat (gossip) a friend fiddled with her cutlery, as you do while patiently waiting for food, mouth watering. The fork looked like this…
Not wanting to complain, feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed, she got a new one from a cutlery pot.
The food arrived.
For maybe the second time ever (as I’m usually good at picking) I wished I’d ordered something else. It wasn’t awful. It was ok. It was edible. But it was rather disappointing.
I ordered the ‘Ricotta Spinaci Lasagne – Layers of fresh pasta, ricotta, spinach with a bechamel and tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese’. It was mostly pasta and ricotta. There wasn’t much tomato sauce either to balance it out, give a contrast of flavours, which meant it was quite sickly but at the same time a little bland.
I could tell it was fresh pasta, which was nice. I love that eggy taste you get with freshly made pasta rather than dried. But then at almost £11 you’d expect the pasta to be fresh. The pasta sheets themselves were actually quite tasty. They just needed a little more between them.
I must say the three other people I was with did all enjoy their food. Two of them having the ‘Pollo Siciliana – Casarecci pasta tubes with chicken, courgette, and spinach in a creamy tarragon & lemon sauce’…
and the other a ‘Pollo Spinaci – Chicken, spinach, garlic butter, mozzarella and Granello cheese’ Calzone…
The greedy ones had dessert. All a ‘Cookie Dough Al Forno – Freshly oven baked to order! Warm chocolate chip cookie dough filled with a melting chocolate middle, served with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce’…
I didn’t order dessert although there were some nice sounding ones on the menu. I would have chosen the Tiramisu, because if there’s ever a tiramisu when I need a dessert then that is what I order!
‘Desert was really nice, nice and hot (I get so many deserts that are meant to be hot but then aren’t). I’ve had better but it was really good’ – Lucy
Although it took a little while to grab the servers attention when we had finished, to ask for the bill, the rest of the service was good. The food all arrived at reasonable speed, just the right amount of time between courses without feeling rushed.
Again when leaving Bella Italia I had to disturb a diner mid mouthful, same table, different man by this point. Again he was polite and apologetic, even though I was the one causing the spectacle that neither of us asked for.
NB. You probably realised at the start of this tale I said ‘decided to revist for lunch with friends this week’? ‘This post was written speedier than usual’ I hear you say. ‘Sometimes it takes you weeks to tell us of your escapades’. Yes. Yes it does! I’m still in the middle of writing two adventures that happened a month ago!
Maybe it’s because I wrote half of this post while on my bus journey home, maybe I should write more whilst traveling, maybe a bumpy journey and jerky hands makes my creativity flow. Or maybe when something frustrates you, almost angers you, you become impassioned to get it written down while the feelings and frustrations are there.
Don’t forget to read about their ‘accessible’ toilet before you go. Only then will you understand my full story!
Update – After tweeting this post I was contacted by management at Bella Italia to discuss my issues further. I was informed that meetings would take place regarding access to their restaurants on a wide scale. I was offered vouchers to return for a meal at a later date. I was told changes may take a while, so I am saving these vouchers to return next year. I will follow this up. And I will report back to you!
Photo credits: Lucy Betts, Janette Hodds