When Bottomless Brunch At Cottons Turned Into Bottomless Hunger
In late April 2018, I visited the newest Cottons restaurant in London to celebrate a friend’s 25th birthday. Whilst my personal experience was pretty shambolic, TripAdvisor seems to suggest that I’m not completely alone. So if you’re in London and you fancy a Caribbean meal, I’d steer clear of the Cottons “Caribbean” restaurant located on St George Wharf in Vauxhall. On their website it’s branded as Cottons latest addition (that) brings the exotic vibes of the Caribbean to this enviable riverside location on the south bank. But having waited three quarters of an hour for a basic brunch that still had the audacity to fall short of any restaurant’s standards, and proved to be as exotic as a portion of chips, I’d strongly oppose this.
Having visited various Cottons locations over the years, I am no stranger to this particular chain of restaurants. Based on these experiences, I had recommended this new location for the continuation of a good friend’s 25th birthday celebrations. Unfortunately my judgement was proved wrong, because on this occasion we were left with little to celebrate other than our eventual departure from the restaurant.
As we entered the premises, we opted to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful day, but soon realised that the weather seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. With this, we moved inside of the restaurant where we waited to be seated. Although there was only one other group seated inside, it took the waiter all of 5 minutes to scramble around on the iPad before eventually seating us at a table by the window. If this was to be any indication of how painfully slow service would be on the day, we certainly didn’t take the hint and continued to place our order with a waiter who seemed anything but present.
During our wait for the food, there was plenty of time to take in the venue’s choice of music and the atmosphere (or complete lack of.) With track after track turning out to be either Hip Hop or RnB, the music wasn’t very reflective of the Caribbean theme nor was it particularly entertaining. As time continued to pass with no sign of our food or even an update, we took to opening gifts and taking pictures as acceptable forms of distraction.
Yet with half an hour gone since our order had been placed, we had watched a number of dishes going from the kitchen to the outdoor tables, and at this point we had become increasingly hungry. With less than 15 tables seated in the entire restaurant, we couldn’t understand how 3 rather basic brunch meals were taking an excess of 30 minutes to be prepared and served. Following several failed attempts at eye contact with numerous waiters, I kindly approached our original waiter to see if there was an update on the progress of our meals. Throughout our very brief exchange of words, he definitely seemed a lot more concerned with the cutlery that he was sorting through, but reassured me that he would check. To my dismay, he made absolutely no effort to approach the kitchen and completely ignored the fact that our 30 minute wait for brunch was unacceptable.
Thankfully, we were then able to catch a different waiter who wasn’t as blasé as our original one and went straight to the kitchen to chase our meals once he had delivered yet another plate of food to an outside table. On his return, he gave the excuse that they had a lot of orders from outside tables, but apologised for the delay and confirmed that our tickets had been rushed through and were being cooked at that very moment. Whilst this did slightly reassure us that our orders had been placed, this was no consolation for the fact that a number of the outside tables had arrived after us but still received their food before us. By this point, any hopes of being treated like valued customers were out of the window, but all we really wanted was to enjoy our meals.
Further to the last update from the helpful waiter, our meals took an additional 5 minutes to arrive, but this was understandable because a ‘Big Man Ting’ breakfast from Cottons certainly sounded like something out of the ordinary – fit for a King (or in our case a hungry Queen.) With letdowns proving to be the most consistent part of this experience, I’m not sure how our optimism lasted so long, but we were finally served our meals after three excruciating quarters of an hour. Before I continue, let me take this moment to show you what a ‘Big Man Ting’ breakfast at Cottons Vauxhall looks like…
Yes, this is a real-life example of THE long awaited ‘Big Man Ting’ breakfast featuring 3 sausages (rather than 2 owing to the request of no bacon,) grilled tomato, hash browns no better than that of McDonalds, and a mini pot of baked beans. Please note the absence of two eggs, which was not requested, and the difference in sausages which we can only assume is a new form of decoration at Cottons. Regardless of what it was, we know that it wasn’t a ‘Big Man Ting Breakfast’ and certainly wasn’t worthy of £8.50. In actual fact, it was a stretch to even call this a breakfast, let alone a Caribbean one.
As a Caribbean woman, I was horrified that people might visit this restaurant and believe that this was an authentic Caribbean experience because that could not be further from the truth. Although people often hold the viewpoint that Caribbean service isn’t the quickest, you can almost guarantee that your food will be worth the wait. To say that Cottons Vauxhall ruined my friend’s birthday would be a complete understatement; From substandard food to equally bad customer service, we were all underwhelmed by every part of the experience. To be honest, the only thing that was bottomless on the day was the evident gap in our stomachs…before and after we left the restaurant!
I may not be the first to let you know that Cottons Vauxhall is no authentic Caribbean restaurant, but let my experience be the first to make you think twice before visiting. Feel free to comment with your own experiences at Cottons Vauxhall, and please do share this review because you might just save someone’s day.