Have been meaning to get over to Blackheath Farmers market ever since I moved to this area. On Saturday after seeing that the sunny weather report for Sunday, we made plans to head down. It's so sad that trains no longer go to Blackheath from Plumstead as we could have had a car free day. I had a quick look on the tfl site and it showed that on Saturday you could go to Blackheath via Woolwich.
That was Saturday, so I thought it was reasonable the same would be true for Sunday. Right? WRONG wrong wrong - we got to Woolwich, parked at the station and merrily went along to be told that trains to Blackheath could not be caught from that Woolwich line that day. So we jumped into the car (so glad we took it rather than walked else trip would have been off) and drove off to Welling. £1 for the car park is outrageous when Woolwich is free on Sunday but we paid and headed for the trains. What joy to be able to use my PAYG travelcard. I did panic a bit as it was nearly 11 and I thought the market would be done by 12.
We arrived in glorious sunshine to a buzzing Blackheath - lots of strollers, lots of young middle class in view ...Gordon Brown should get down here with his latest campaign ;). The market is small, and it didn't have the variety in veg that you would get at e.g. Borough but maybe the snow had something to do with that. I saw with relief the market is open to 2p.m. The stall holders obviously know their market as we walked around some had sold out of their produce and most of the others were doing a good trade. As expected, there were some stalls selling bread/cakes. Will I never learn that you should walk all the way round before buying as I got a spinach/ricotta roll and then passed a stall that had the most delicious looking veggie tarts on sale.
Once our shopping was done we decided to go to Cafe Rouge rather than a pub as a) it's very child friendly and b) unlike a pub the quality of food is predictable. We came to regret this in some ways. On turning up the place was not full but as some tables were reserved, we very lucky to be given a table by the door. For this, I had to tolerate blasts of cold wind hurtling into my back every time the door was opened. The staff were very busy, mostly greeting people at the door just to tell them the place was all full.
We waited ages to be served. When served, we took the waiter's suggestion to have garlic bread...if you go on a Sunday DON'T do this as it seems to radically affect the time you eat your meal. The bread arrived at the same time as tot's meal. We had to remind the waiter to bring our drinks. It was really lucky that the tot's meal arrived as we devoured the delicious bread and then sat there for 20-25 mins waiting for the mains to come. We had to ask the staff where they were and were informed they were being prepared just then. I told the waiter that they should get more staff. The hostess / maitre d' person piped up and said this would not help them. I don't run a restaurant but seriously how can this be true?
During our long wait, other would-be diners walked out as they hadn't been served. One made quite a point of this and [I think] was rudely brushed off by the hostess/maitre d' person. Great customer service. Bear in mind, people were regularly being turned away during all this time.
When our food arrived, it was delicious but how can you enjoy it when your tot who had eaten nearly 45 mins before is squirming about and just wants to leave.
My hubby and tot had dessert and we made to leave. While hubby was in the loo, the waiter again made the comment about how extra staff would not help as according to him the problem is that diners all came at the same time. So this is a restaurant, in a prime location which would get a lot of lunchtime or dinner trade and cannot handle the number of diners it covers. It's a restaurant where many of the tables were reserved so they could actually predict that they would be busy. This is not a new restaurant but an established one. Methinks someone in Cafe Rouge management needs to review this as it's madness. I enjoy a leisurely lunch but I absolutely hate waiting for food to arrive. The real shame here is that that particular waiter is one who has served once before and is a really nice person. If they were just a tad more efficient, people could enjoy visiting this restaurant. Next time I think we'll go the pub or El Pirata.
We finished off in Blackheath by going to Pares shoe shop and getting tot a brand new pair of pink shoes. That cheered us all up. The staff in there are are very good at handling children (the lady seeing to us even laughed off the swift kick in the head tot accidently gave her) and even better, there was a sale and tot got a lollipop as we left :)
We happily made our way back to Welling and were home by 3. I'm not sure the market is compelling enough to visit frequently but I'm sure that when the sun is out we will make our way there but next time, we'll take a picnic.