I have been going to Carnegies for a few years now. My last visit was last Sunday. I sent Bob a pm telling him that the delivery of my orange juice and coffee was slightly tardy. On Sunday I had a fillet steak with creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. It was fantastic. It was ten pounds sterling.
I am a regular, and I know Bob personally. I am the Worst Customer. Bob buys me more free drinks out of pity than I spend money in his establishment, so the cynics may like to take my praise with a pinch of salt, but on the converse, I urge them to listen to how I got to know him.
One day, three years ago I told him his breakfast was crap. I had never been to the place before, but let's just say I know an English breakfast when I see one, and I told him that he should be ashamed of himself as an Englishman serving margarine (amongst other cardinal sins) with breakfast. This was late on a Saturday night. He and I had a drunken exchange, during which he told me he would endeavour to provide in future the best breakfast known to man. Well, in Taipei, at least. I said "yeah, right". He said " I will have freshly squeezed orange juice". I went to the toilet.
I went back the next weekend and Bob had installed a proper English breakfast. Pretty much what's on the menu now. This was revolutionary at the time and I enjoyed a size 8 3/4 Panama with English mustard.
Since then I have been present at various tastings, (such as the venison trial) where Bob sent stuff back to the kitchen umpteen times because it's "not right".
Why is this important? I have a limited budget the same as everyone else. Most of the time, I get a decent feed, in a decent amount of time at Carnegies. This Sunday I had to wait a bit. Actually, my steak was cold in the middle. Did I complain? Well, I said to the server "It's a bit cold in the middle". And it was whisked away and re-grilled. Was I upset? No. Let me tell you why.
I've eaten in most places in Taipei. Sometimes they get it right, and most of the time they don't. The difference with this place is that they actually give a shit. If you have a problem, ask for a manager if you feel the wait staff haven't satisfied your request. Why do I say this? Well. Look at how many people regularly eat there. You can be guaranteed that sometimes the regulars (including me) get iffy service. Such is life. But the regulars keep coming back because on balance, the food is good and the atmosphere is good.
Which is another important point. Now, for those of you looking at the clock and thinking "why would someone write this sort of shit at two o'clock in the morning if he hadn't just come back from Carnegies and been given twenty camels and a young wife" let me just explain that I have just come back from another pub where someone else's food was put on my bloody bill! Which brings me back to atmosphere. Why do you think the place is full of regulars? Because, you can run a tab with confidence you're not going to get ripped off, the staff are honest, and both the staff and managers care about the quality of the stuff they're serving. That is all I ask in a pub. Or a restaurant.
For those of you who have come in and had bad service: So have I. But the point is, you have just been unlucky. In my humble opinion, about seven times out of ten, it hits the mark in the food and drinks stakes.
Shop around. I do. I have been universally disappointed. If I don't like something at Carnegies I tell one of the managers. More often than not they take any suggestion seriously and make changes. For example, I am going to tell Bob tomorrow that I am not happy with the muffin that comes with the eggs benedict. And you can be damn sure there will be an earnest discussion about what constitutes a proper English muffin. I am prepared to be proved wrong, but.....(!)