John Lewis. Never knowingly undersold. Their Christmas advert, which launched earlier today, will no doubt capture the hearts of the nation in the same way as their penguins and ghastly cover versions have done in previous years. But what of their cafe restaurant, The Place to Eat, on the top floor of their St James Centre store? I popped in to give it a try.

I remember being here on many occasions over the years, mainly just to soak in the excellent view that the wrap-around windows offer over Leith and the Forth. It’s really quite spectacular.

The space felt much as before and still seemed a little like a missed opportunity. It’s rather a dreary self-service cafe where a real signature eatery could live. It’s very popular, though, so they’ve definitely found an audience.

Pie and peas

Pie and peas

Their hot food counter brought back terrifying memories of my brush with BHS to the extent that I found myself strangely drawn towards ordering the cottage pie, which I duly did. When the counter woman ladled on grim looking peas and the comparison was complete.

I paid at the cash desk and toddled back to the nearest free table.

The fluorescent orange pie, served in a pie dish, would have been passable if you’d cooked it for yourself when hungover following a night during which you stole a policeman’s helmet, slept in the neighbour’s hedge then vomited half-digested kebab all over your grandmother’s pianola.

I’m being overly dramatic, but the point is that its total mediocrity was a complete mismatch to the generally very good quality of the John Lewis store, which is a place I really quite like. This eatery is well below the required standard and as such needs a wholesale rethink.

So overall, heart-warming adverts can only buy so much goodwill for the John Lewis cafe, which is barely A place to eat, far less THE Place to Eat. Next time you’re shopping here make sure to plan alternative lunching arrangements.

Blythe scores The Place to Eat
2/5 for food
1.5/5 for presentation
3/5 for setting
2.5/5 for service
giving an overall 9/20

I ate: cottage pie, peas

I drank: water

I wore: pinstripes

Total bill: £7.95

The Place To Eat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Written by BKR