The Euston Tap: customer service fail

This new venture from the folks behind the fabulous Sheffield Tap should be our new favourite pub. Unfortunately, we’ve just been treated quite badly by a snooty barmaid.

We’ll stick to Cask.

This is why we stay incognito.

40 replies on “The Euston Tap: customer service fail”

Oh, maybe we’re just being over-sensitive. Gave us the wrong beer, but that was our fault in some way. Just typical London ‘attitude’. We’re not that hard to please, are we?

Did you make the mistake of ordering a beer by name rather than number? 😉 Admittedly I was there on the first night… Also I forgive them serving us a pint of Marble Pint rather than a half as requested. It’s confusing.

Got the same last night too, must have been the same snooty barmaid.
We asked for top-ups as the tide was quite significantly out on all three pints, and got treated like insane maniacs who’d just asked something really inappropriate and rude. We were lectured on “standard head size”too. It was quite an uncomfortable situation. Hope it was just one barmaid having an off night, as this ought to be my favourite pub too.

Tanders, that reminds me of my favourite riposte to bus drivers, although I haven’t had to use it since moving from Manchester. Try ‘I wish I was a bus driver!’. Make sure you look them in the eye when you say it.

Very harsh to slate the place so publicly for a one-off offence. As it happens, there are a couple of times when, in Cask, I’ve felt the staff to be a bit snooty (and the cask beer has not *every single time* been 100%) – but I persevere because, in the main, it’s good.

Would have thought a bad experience on at least two occasions would certainly have warranted a comment. But it’s very early doors for this kind of thing.

*Runs for cover*

John — no need to run for cover! There’s snooty and there’s snooty. I hope people know by now that we tend not to slate beers or pubs. 99% of the time, we just don’t write about them. On this occasion, though, we were made to feel so uncomfortable, we felt compelled. We did agonise a bit before posting. And we’ll probably give it another go some time.

Glad we give it a miss last night and went to the Harp.

If we go to a place and have bad service we tend to leave it a month then re-try it. Hopefully if it is a problem with a particular individual they would have been spotted by management and something done or if it is just a one-off problem then no worries.

However to the under served measures of beers, if the liquid is not to the pint line then bugger head size it should be topped up. Price is for a pint therefore they should give you a pint. Snooty explaination would have had me asking for the manager.

Interesting and disappointing to hear of your negative experience. Beer-wise this ought to be the best bar in London and I was planning on making my virgin visit later today with very high expectations.

Poor service in London has become such the norm that I was actually properly taken aback by how fantastic the service was everywhere I visited in Edinburgh last week. Each and every landlord, host and barperson literally couldn’t do enough to keep us happy.

It’s a sad state of affairs that London is so backward in this regard and that the Euston Tap doesn’t appear to be bucking the trend.

Ah, that’s unfortunate. I was there on the opening night and back today for a return visit at lunchtime today. Even under pressure on the insanity of the opening night and again today the bar staff seemed helpful and friendly (although I didn’t encounter your ‘Barmaid From Hell’). I think we’ve all had bad experiences at even the best of establishments, but please don’t let one snotty individual put you off – small size and limited toilet facilities aside, it’s a welcome addition to the London beer scene.

Had a chat with John and Yan and it sounds as if great plans are afooot for the future (e.g. an Australian craft beerfest early next year).

Most unfortunate – let me offer some positive redress. We were there for the first time Thursday night; service was excellent and knowledgable from the – all male admittedly – 3 staff. Beer quality superb and measures fine too.

Have been waiting eagerly for it to open as I work virtually next door and it couldn’t be better sited. We love the Cask too but this is set fair to become an extension of my office.

Do urge you to give it another try.

Intriguing. I know if I were the managers of a new venture I’d be scouring the beer blogs for opinions, so hopefully they’ll see this.

Hopefully, in a few weeks time, there will be lots of people saying online that they’ve had the opposite experience, and that we were just unlucky. We do want the Euston Tap to be a success!

Dubbel — we were pondering this further last night and concluded that, yes, the really sad thing is that there are lots of other places in London (like Cask, or the Rake) where the bar staff aren’t exactly *friendly* (you don’t often get a smile or any kind of conversation) and we’ve come to consider anything but outright rudeness ‘good service’.

TIW — it seems like a relatively small staff training issue. When I was a teenaged waiter at one of a chain of crappy pub/carveries, we spent half a day learning what to do if customer was unhappy — how to respond to avoid confrontation, what to offer them to placate them (free coffee; free dessert; 10 per cent off the bill) and, finally, how and when to escalate to the manager. The pub was crap, but the training was actually pretty good.

I think it’s all too true about service expectations in London. My wife’s parents were over from Luxembourg a couple of weeks ago and, while browsing in a bookshop, came across a Time Out review of a (lavishly-praised-but-actually-mediocre) restaurant* we’d been to and asked – genuinely – why the author had written ‘service professional, yet friendly’. ‘Yet means but, right?’ my mother in law asked.

And she has a point – how can service be professional, by any rational yardstick, if it isn’t friendly? Even the curt, ruthless efficiency of the Paris cafe waiter is done with a nod and a wink (nothing riles me more than the myth that Paris service is rude. Compared to London, it’s a courteous delight, in the main).

Service in the UK just isn’t a profession. You can go back to a favourite cafe or restaurant in France and very often find familiar faces among the waiting staff year after year, among the younger more transient servers. Here, it’s *exclusively* something kids do in between other more important stuff.

The result? The kids themselves have never had good service and don’t know how to do it instinctively when they end up the other side of the counter themselves.

One final note – it is getting a bit depressing how many pubs (I’m thinking of the Nicholson M&B pubs, especially) are superbly run, clean and with a really interesting selection of booze – we saw Jaipur and cask Punk IPA in two Nicholson pubs in central London yesterday – but absolutely ZERO chance of having even the briefest of quips or a warm welcome from (usually black-shirted, uniformed) staff.

Is a pub-themed watering hole really a pub? (For all that I concede this is better than nothing.)

* the restaurant was Hix, Brewer Street.

JJ makes a good point about the value of wait or serving staff and as somebody who visits the US, its clear we don’t value them as much here as there. They’re prfessionals there, over here, bloody students, by and large.

Bar work here is minimum wage drudgery where a positiver attitude means the same hourly rate as a curmudgeon – no incentive to be on your game and show out. Away from the UK, I’ll always tip for good service. Maybe some of our quality beer/drinks bars could set an example. I can see some positives and a win-win if it’s managed right…

This blog post is total BS. I’ve been to the Euston Tap more than five times now (a lot, I know) and have met all the bar staff. There are four guys and one girl; she only works occasionally because of scholastic responsibilities. They all understand the beers and one is particularly expert.

I can only imagine this blogger is an over-sensitive beer loser (not a beer geek or beer nerd, mind you) who is eager to piss and moan. All barbacks have off nights so I can’t blindly defend this “snooty barmaid”, but the fact that this blogger divulges no details of the incident makes it seem like he/she is just itching to put down the Euston Tap.

As for the issue of topping up, I would say there IS an acceptable amount of head. For the person who thinks a pint is a pint and head is cheating them out of their money, you can’t convince them otherwise because they are either a blind CAMRA follower, cheap, or perhaps braindead. I’m pretty cheap myself, and I’m a card-carrying member of CAMRA, and I have no problem accepting a half inch of head. Anyone who has ever pulled a pint will understand that some beers are heavily carbonated and making the effor to fill a glass to the brim, without any head, will require wasting a good amount of liquid. Some of this carbonation can be attributed to poor cellar and draught system maintenance, but a lot of the time it is just the nature of the beer. To blindly demand a “full pint” is ignorant. If you truly appreciate beer you wouldn’t want to see any liquid wasted, so please consider the beer you’re receiving and perhaps watch the bartender as they pour.

To this blogger: how about a little bit of journalistic integrity? Dropping a negative review like this without explanation is irresponsible and amateur. Give the Euston Tap another try and post a new review.

Johnson — sorry we’ve made you angry. We are amateurs, though, and not journalists. We might be over-sensitive, but I don’t think so, and we don’t have a history on this blog of slagging off pubs. We are losers, fair point.

I can’t agree with the suggestion that it’s the customer’s role to develop a thick skin and make allowances for bad-tempered bar staff, though. Nor does it seem quite right that we should keep going until we have a good time and, only then post any kind of review.

We certainly don’t want the Euston Tap to fail — why would we!?

We’re just two among many bloggers and, as you’ll see from comments above, including yours, other people have been impressed.

I agree there is an acceptable level to allow for a head but I am refering to when I have been served a pint with over an inch of foam and I’m supposed to accept that?

This is why I liked the glass I got at a recent beer festival where the pint line is roughly half an inch below the glass level. Maybe more pubs should have these type of glasses. On the other hand I don’t know if they are more expensive than the usual glasses.

I have not been to the Tap (either of them) yet, we will be going hopefully soon once we can make it. My comments are about service I received elsewhere, further more I think that I am being fair by going back at a later stage like most of the other commenters on this blog. None of them have written off the Tap and Boak and Bailey have said they will be going back.

I think you are being overly zealous and unfair in your comment.

I was in the Tap on Friday night and the attitude of the barmaid although regrettable may be the result of the behaviour of a group of customers who seemed to want try every cask beer in the place before ordering a pint.
Fair enough they have the right to request a sample but they had the poor lass running back and to for about 5 minutes while a steady queue of customers built up around them (which they seemed oblivious to). Just think its a bit of give and take, having put my time in on either side of the bar it doesn’t take much effort by customers or staff to keep things civil.

In my view, posts like these are entirely legitimate, indeed useful in helping to shake up standards.
But I think it worth recording that my experience at the Euston Tap was entirely different. I thought the service was pretty efficient. The selection was interesting and the prices good for London. I also liked the way prices are clearly displayed so you can choose according to your budget without having embarrassing conversations at a busy bar.
I’ve encountered snooty staff at both the Rake and Cask who make you feel you haven’t passed the qualifying exam to drink their beers. Subsequent visits to the latter have proved much more enjoyable. Perhaps the Tap would reward a second visit.

Tim makes a great point re. the prices. Dunno about you, but I’m far more likely to pony up a premium price for a great beer if I know what that price is in advance! I hate that fateful game of beer-price-bingo at The Rake, when it’s rammed and I daren’t ask for something too exotic lest I don’t have enough cash to cover it.

Went there for a quick look in the afternoon on the day after it opened. Was fairly quiet and the two bar staff were very pleasant and happy to talk. A Thornbridge Wild Swan followed by halves of Bernard Unfiltered and Weihenstephaner Dunkel Weissbier went down very well before I had to leave to meet up with friends at a much less exciting pub.
Agree with Tim about the (good for London) prices and their visibility.
Must find an excuse to go back soon.

Agree with the BS comment. Pretty outrageous to slate a new pub over one dubious experience. Then you seem to pull away from the comment in your blog, yet leave the juicy headline in twitter. A beer blogger should know better than to sink to sensationalist headlines.

Mike — sorry to have annoyed you, too. The headline summarises the post, I think — we went, and there was a failure of customer service, in out opinion. As I’ve said above a couple of times above, we genuinely wish the Euston Tap well, and, as we’re not in the habit of ‘slating’ things generally, hope people will allow us to express a sincere response to a very uncomfortable situation on this occasion.

A big thanks to Boak and Bailey for telling it like it is.
Rude bar staff can kill a pub’s trade and there’s no excuse for a manager/owner not being able to recognise this and nip it in the bud.
I shall be in the Euston Tap in a few weeks to give it a try and if the dopey cow is rude to me she’ll get both barrels of sarcasm from Pie-Tin’s well-stocked depository.

Actually I think the headline isn’t a bad thing necessarily. A lot of folks who go to a pub/restaurant/shop and have bad service would think that as their first opinions on the place. It is a honest view taken at that snapshot of time.

Maybe it’s Northern thing? isn’t the Tap co-owned by a guy from the North – I’ve heard that the heads on pints are generally served bigger up there.

True, but (in Manchester at least) they’re generally topped up to a full pint without demur if you ask, and you very often don’t need to ask.

You’re right. This is a great bar but is totally ruined by the attitude of one particular barmaid. I and a friend of mine have both encountered the same woman. Go and work somewhere where you don’t have to deal with the public love and then you will be happy and we will be happy. This place has great potential but until they get decent staff I too will be sticking to the Cask.

I’ve been to the Euston Tap maybe 7 or 8 times now and never encountered any female staff, perhaps I’ve been lucky. From my experience the staff don’t exactly rush around so it can take a while to get served when busy, but service has always been friendly and knowledgeable. On the topping up issue I think due to the way the beers are delivered there’s often more carbonation than with a tradition handpull. It’s also worth noting that the half pint glasses are oversized, don’t think the pint ones are. A recent addition has been a few beer menus on the bar with the various bottles and prices listed. Price wise a standrd pint price of £2.80 to £3.20 is the norm but there are some scary prices for some of the premium beers. The Thornbridge Alliance at 11% is £9 a pint and there are some others around the £6-£8 mark, but these are specialist beers so I think credit should be given for being brave enough to get them in. I think the place will keep developing, although it’s restricted by its size and layout, and can see it thriving in Summer when people can drink outside.

I’ve just come across this via google and I’d like to say that since the end of Jan the place has come under new management, me. Taking on this place was a big decision, I could’ve ruined my reputation. When I first entered the tap the gum-chewing bar man took his time to finish his text before serving me, much to my displeasure and my girlfriend was annoyed at being hungry in a pub with limited options and waiting for the toilet. But I saw it’s potential… Since then we have installed a second toilet, introduced Pizzas, standard pint glasses, structure, moral and removed any ‘snotty staff’ from employment.

I am proud of what the Euston Tap has become, and I stand by it 100%

Tony Lennon, GM

I for myself long for a day when a pub in London will pull me a lager with nice thick head that will last till I finish my beer.I cannot talk about other beers at Euston Tap but regarding the lagers they should learn what the proper way is. It is pretty disappointing to see the head disappear after 5 secs. See this-

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