Saturday, 22 September 2012

Restaurant Review: Ping

Restaurants that have opened to hype and high expectation recently have included Meat Liquor, Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle. All have lived up to said hype and been amazing. Another that has been on my lust list is Ping - a dining and ping pong concept (not to be confused with the chain restaurant Ping Pong). Reviews have been good, the idea is good my expectations were high.

We arrived at our booked time of 730 and were shown to our seats, the place wasn't too busy yet (Wednesday evening). We perused the cocktail menu and soaked up a bit of atmosphere. A short time later we were asked to move to another (identical) table close by. We didn't really mind as hadn't ordered anything yet. Our waiter was a young trendy type decked out in 'sports gear' the ladies dressed in vintage cheer leader style outfits.

Table decorations including cheese grater tea light holder

First up, drinks order, I opted for a passion fruit cosmo. This materialised pretty promptly with a very satisfyingly limey G&T for H. At this stage our waiter informed us we'd have to wait 20 minutes or so to order food as the kitchen just had an order of 60 pizzas from a large party. Fine by us, we were in no rush. It is also worth noting when I booked I asked about booking a ping pong table and was told these are done when you arrive you put your name on a board and get a table that way. We weren't warned this large group had reserved the tables until 10pm (regular punters can't do this). We said that was fine and put out names down for 10 o clock, alcohol would make us better, right?

Back to the food, the pizzas are all very reasonably priced at £7.70. We opted for a San Paolo which is chicken and cream cheese and a Frasers Fvourite with sausage and bacon, yep healthy as you'd imagine. The food didn't  take very long at all to arrive and the size was about right for one each, the dough was pretty think and well; doughy.

The Ping Menu
Frasers Favourite

San Paolo
Here is where I'm going to get pretty critical - you'll soon see why. There wasn't loads of topping and the pizza was no where near as good as say Santore. The 'chili oil' on the table had about as much kick as a baby kitten purring over a ball of wool. Still we were pretty satisfied. Here's where it went wrong. It was 9pm by now and when the waiter came to take our plates he said 'do you want the bill', in a way that meant 'I want you out of here'. Do you WANT us to want the bill? We had a ping pong table booked for an hour away and wanted to try a Ping Porn (later) and have a couple more cocktails. His response? 'Well we actually needed this table back at 8.30'.
Couple of pictures to break up the rant
Chicken-y goodness. The San Paolo was better
Where to start? 1) one hour table turn in the evening?! That's practically fast food, 2) we weren't advised of any time limit on the table on booking 3) we couldn't order for a good 45 minutes because of the large party leaving a grand total of 15 minutes to play with?

On voicing these concerns out waiter looked nonplussed and buggered off somewhere. A while later he grudgingly bought the dessert menu. We said to him, as we were pretty put off by this damp squib we'll just leave and sod our ping pong table (we said it in a much more polite and understanding way). He made tiny noises about 'no no stay'. So we did, rightly or wrongly.

We ordered the Ping Porn, who can turn down a pizza base smothered in nutella and mixed berries. It was as expected on arrival. Pretty good but the dough was again quite thick so after the pizza it was pretty stodgy and filling.
The Ping Porn
Thick dougy, chocolatey partial goodness
Slosh. Yes I had it all over my face
We had another cocktail feeling a bit like criminals who no one wanted around and at the allotted time headed to our ping ping table. As predicted we were both amazing. Balls were flying everywhere and we spent most of our time chasing them all over the shop. Fortunately the other tables are also doing this. There are three in total and we were on the middle one with two large parties either side. A tip for you, go on the side with your back to the mirror- not the bar or you may find yourself chasing balls to the bar pretty frequently whereas the mirror breaks there stride.

I'm ready. Scouting out the playing field
After this we went to the bar to pay up. Our card had been taken as we arrived earlier as 'we have had a number of people just leave without paying in the last couple of days' personally I can't really believe this, this place doesn't feel like it would attract that sort of crowd. To sum up, a good concept but executed badly. Perhaps they are teething problems, perhaps we were unlucky on the night because of this party. It's put me off a bit do I certainly won't be rushing back, which is a damn shame. Service makes so much of a difference between ranting about a poor experience and raving about re-booking immediately.

Still, 'Bounce' is opening in October. Run by the same crowd that own All Star Lanes and opening nearby in Bloomsbury this will perhaps beat out ping in the dining/ponging stakes. Will keep you posted...
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