I might have to reappraise what I wrote about the Village Deli back in May… After today, I’m not sure I’ll be heading back. It all started well enough, with the idea of getting something to eat there before catching a train. When we’d bought our food to take-away, I realised that we still had 15 minutes before the train was due.
So I asked one of the staff there if we could sit down with our food. He said of course, so we did. Then a very grumpy lady came over and loudly told us that she was very sorry, but we couldn’t possibly sit there, as we had paid to take away. Which was kind of embarrassing, and made me feel like some sort of furtive vagrant sneaking into their shop to sit down…
I completely understand that by law the place has to add VAT on to our order if we choose to eat in, so I offered to pay the difference. Mrs Bugle was busy fuming by this point. So we finished our (rather dry) spinach and ricotta thingy, and got up to leave. I asked how much we owed her, and she announced £2! Two pounds in VAT?! I’m sure our two spinach things didn’t cost more than £6, and by my reckoning, two pounds means that our food must have cost £11! I questioned it (hell, I’d already lost any chance at getting out of there without embarrassment), and was told that it was “because we sat at the table”, whatever that means.
It’s not so much the money, as the way it was handled… Maybe she was having a bad day, but as Michael P pointed out in the comments in the previous post about the Deli:
Every time I leave the Deli, I swear that I will never return. Although the service is just about passable during the week, I am almost always left to hang for a sapping period of time at the weekend. And there’s about as much chance of getting a smile as there is getting change from a tenner.
True indeed… If I’m turning this blog into one long whinge-fest please tell me. I do like Blackheath really!
How is it that a tiny delicatessen in Blackheath right next to Starbucks doesn’t go out of business?
I thought I’d do a comparison of the two. I’d been into the Village Deli a few times. It is nice enough, but feels more like a cafe than a delicatessen. It’s nothing like Starbucks. You pay afterwards, which always feels nicer, and there are plenty of tables outside to watch the world go by.
It’s not perfect though -the tables were slightly sticky, and could have done with a good wipe. A small latte was good, and cost £2.
Now, Starbucks…. You, being nice Blackheath people, know how Starbucks is, so I’m not going to describe the usual things.
What is odd is that from the outside you cannot see how few places there are to sit down. It is as though they have decided that they have no interest in serving customers inside. It really might as well be a booth with a dispensing flap at the front. Inside, it is like a morgue most of the time. The staff (baristas – God, what a strange word to choose), were unfaultable, but really it felt so empty.
The coffee was £2.05. Not sure what you get for your extra 5p- maybe a bit more cow juice. And Nora Jones on the stereo.
I can’t help thinking that if it weren’t for the Village Deli’s location, it would have been annihilated by the Starbucks juggernaut. Not because Starbucks is better (it isn’t), but because the station is such a hub of activity in Blackheath, everyone seems to radiate towards it in the mornings and away at night, and the Deli is the first coffee shop that is visible from outside.
The mysterious shop front next to O’Neill’s pub finally has a sign painted above it, and it looks promising…
“Provender – Vegetarian Vegan Organic”. This encourages a vegetarian bugle! I hope it is as good as Food for Thought, or like a takeaway version of The Gate.
It looks like there is a Provender Delicatessen in Lewisham, so perhaps this is going to be a second outlet. Anyone been to the one in Lewisham?