The proposal at The Tower story

Now, from the outset I’m going to say that there are an unusual set of circumstances around our extremely unfortunate visit to The Tower, and so let me begin by outlining the events of the day.

It was my girlfriend’s 30th birthday and we were expected at a big party that evening to celebrate. I had also arranged for a surprise lunch out, not only to make sure we ate well before the evening, but also to surprise and spoil her a little.

There was another reason, I was going to propose, and this was going to go down as one of the worst proposals of all time.

On arriving outside The Tower she was already excited, the Taxi Driver had been under strict orders not to say anything regarding our destination, and he was actually playing along by suggesting that there was a great chip shop on the corner opposite.

We went inside and got a great seat, right next to the window with a view of the castle. We ordered a glass of champagne cocktail (no prosecco here) and a glass of red wine, and the proposal began.

It was a special moment, particularly because it was a total surprise. I was armed with two handmade cards, the first promising a decent pair of shades, which made the second seem like a another present. It wasn’t.

The words made her cry as soon as she put the card down, and I was in a similar state before I had even finished the first word of my proposal. So it took a little while and a lot of tears, but we got there and we were both amazingly happy. Especially as she said yes.

Then we got some bread, made our order and waited. During this time we noticed how good the service was, actually as soon as we came in the restaurant we noticed. All the staff we passed were beaming and greeted us. Not fake smiles, but they seemed really genuine.

This was something that continued throughout the meal, and as we received our bread the lady serving was warm, polite and engaging. We joked about the crying being because of her lovely bread. Interestingly we never mentioned that we had just become engaged to the staff, and although they must have suspected, they never asked.

Our first course came quickly, I had a duck egg with hollandaise sauce while my fiancée had something completely different. Strangely neither of us really felt like eating, but we did, the evening party meant that we really needed to.

When I first cut into the egg a clear liquid came out, the egg itself seemed well cooked and we had thought that it had been vinegar. It tasted really lovely.

When the main course came, swordfish for me, my stomach was feeling upset. I had thought it was merely the excitement of the day, but not even halfway through the main course I had to retreat to the bathroom.

At this stage I was feeling very dizzy, sweating all over my body, and suffering excrutiating stomach cramps. In fact it got so bad I did feel as though I was going to pass out and the sweating had become so bad it was pouring down my body onto the toilet seat, sweat was even coming off my wrists.

My fiancée told me that I was in there for some twenty minutes, and while I was the staff came and chatted to her to make sure she was okay.

I came back to the table after wiping myself down and redressing. I think I was there for mere minutes before the sweating and painful cramps returned, so off it was to the toilets again.

This time I was there for half an hour, again the same stomach pains, sweats and dizziness but this time I was struck with the most violent diahorrea. At this point I realised I had to get home fast, as had my fiancée.

While the staff were talking with her and asking how I was, she asked for the bill and a taxi. We paid the full amount and raced off, rather stupidly but there was nothing we could do. We didn’t have the time to sit and argue about the bill, about being ill, or anything. I had to get home fast.

By this point the staff were well aware that I was very ill. They had seen me sweating, pure white, and racing to the toilet. Our afternoon plans of ring shopping were now destroyed.

So when I came out of the toilet we raced off home. The Taxi Driver hurried us back without a word – It think he was concerned for his cab!

At home I was violently sick, I’ve been sick through drink before, but never this bad. When I wretched my whole body went limp, and my stomach was emptied in a few minutes.

For the next five or six hours I lay in bed, dozed, drank water and rehydrating fluids – when I could hold it down – and it was only about fifteen minutes before the party that I decided to get up and try going. After all my fiancée couldn’t announce the engagement herself.

The party was a wet blanket for me, I struggled with anything but water, and couldn’t eat any of the buffet. All that food and drink we’d paid for and I couldn’t have any of it.

So you can see that our visit to the Tower was quite unusual. My Father, who has worked in Environmental Health for almost all of his career, said that it was most certainly toxic food poisoning. A very nasty thing to suffer.

After this I wrote a letter which was emailed and postal mailed to The Tower to tell them what had happened, how the experience almost totally ruined our day, but despite all that we were thankful to the staff who showed such great attention.

We have heard nothing from either email or postal mail. Not even an acknowledgement. This seemed to go against the customer service that we had seemed to have received when we were there.

So another letter has been sent, expressing our disappointment at the lack of contact.

It’s interesting to relate the Domino’s story at this point, as I did in the second letter to them. A few weeks ago Domino’s delivered the wrong order, I called them and without having to say anything more they promised the correct order to be delivered in twenty minutes, a full refund of the cost, and some free juice and starters. They even left the incorrect order with us.

Now the moral of that story is not the free food, it’s the prompt, decisive and positive customer service. Interesting that these two food services, at either end of the spectrum, could be no further apart in terms of customer service, satisfaction and cost, and that these seem to be the wrong way round.

The Tower may have a nice sheen to it, a fancy menu, and friendly waiting staff, but their food gave me toxic food poisoning, almost totally ruined what should have been the best day of our lives, and they ignored us once we brought it to their attention.

The after sales customer service is better at Domino’s Pizza.

There has been an update since completing this review however. Since I was ignored once I left it for about a month and contacted them again with a slightly stronger worded message. This required a confirmation of receipt and of further action.

Within a few days I received a response to show that they had received the letter and that it had been passed to the Manager, and a short while after that a response was finally received, this is how the message reads:

Dear Mr Brunton,

First of all I would like to send my deepest apologies for the amount of time lapsed between receiving your original letter and the response being sent to you.

In regards to the queries concerning your lunch at the Tower restaurant on the 29th July I would like to say sorry from a personal point of view, as mentioned in your letter, this was to be a very special day for both of you, getting engaged and your fiancée’s birthday, being made less special by some unfortunate and unforseen events.

Obviousy we take such issues as food poisoning and suspected food poisoning very seriously, as we would with any form of complaint which arises at the Tower.We have a very good relationship with the Environmental Health Officer and in the past when we have received any queries regarding our food quality served to our customers we have been more than willing to bring them in to check our storage and storage temperatures as well as our cooking conditions and cleanliness of the kitchen in general is up to and above the required standard.

The duck egg florentine which you had on the day was one of our most popular dishes during the summer and we had to order these in on a regular 2 day basis.The only querie we received about this dish was from yourself and I appreciate the feedback given although unfortunately not good from your illness on the day.

Once again I am sorry your day didn’t go as planned. I must also take this opportunity to wish yourself and your

fiancée all the best for the future.

To date, that has been that. The benefits we have are that I do get one great story to tell future generations, and I did get very drunk that evening on little cash.

However the day is still tainted, having planned to go ring shopping and extend the tears and joy throughout the day, I was left with vomiting and cramps, and my fiancée was left to get ready for the evening party without me as well as carrying the bill for the meal, most of which was by then swimming with the sewage.

3 comments on “The proposal at The Tower story”

  1. Louise Reply

    True you do have a good story to tell on how you proposed, but it would have been even better with a full refund to add in. You did look particuarly green all night.

    If it’s any consolation I had a great time at your party, although how we managed to stay off the F1 simulators I don’t know.

  2. pablo Reply

    Richard, this post is by far one of the most moving i have ever read.

    Initially it displays great excitement and emotional electricity, that is quickly replaced by dissapointment and then anger.

    Why the hell do expensive(in cost but not neccessarily understanding) restaurants think they are “above” the service industry. The MUST adhere to the same standards and WILL need to do a please explain.

    I’d like to add that i have also had an meal at the tower and the service was excellent(too many staff for my liking, but i can see the need) and the food/wine/etc was also excellent. Which is why i am so surprised about their after service(or lack of).

    Richard, I would hope, when time allows, you would make a personal visit the admin arm of the tower and personally re-explain your experience.

  3. Richard Brunton Reply

    I know…how did we manage to stay off the F1 simulators?…Fools!

    Thanks Pablo. I too was very surprised by the “after sales” attitude. The service during the meal was wonderful, and there was some good banter with the staff too, but all of it was destroyed by being made extremely ill by the food.

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