It looked that part, like a TV set, all tasteful greens with warm lighting. But its being three quarters empty on a Friday night spoke volumes.
I had booked a table for two, I was meeting up with a friend. We arrived and we were led to a cramped table in the furthest corner of the upstairs section. Clearly the restaurant was ashamed of having customers and liked to hide them away. No sign of Gregg.
Eventually the waitress tramped over with a face that suggested that she thought we were the most offensive people she had ever seen. She gave us the menu and we ordered diet coke, which arrived in a can (tsk).
She then prompted us for our order with some irritation. We said we would not have the "starter and main course" meal deal, just a main course, which further irked her. I had fish and chips, frankly I could have had much better for £3.99 at my local chippie. The batter tasted as if it had been stewing in its own oils for a long time.
My friend had a mushroom pie, cue the vegetables discussion with the waitress.
Gregg being a fruit and veg wholesaler, veg is the big thing in this restaurant. But you do not get it with your meal, you have to pay separately, at £3.50 a portion. No thanks, said my friend and she was punished with a mushroom pie that was basically a pastry lid on a bowl of soup and a small portion of mash. The main problem was trying to eat it with a fork in the absence of a spoon.
I went down to find the toilets after the meal. There was a critical newspaper article covering the launch in January displayed in a frame, which I read in passing. It said it looked like Wallace & Co was a format which would be rolled out like Carluccio's.
On the way back I passed a table berating our waitross for completely messing up their order.
We got the bill and found it had been added up wrong and we had been overchanged by a few pounds. Not a word of apology, apparently the system does not like it if you do not order starters.
We were hugely disappointed by the visit, and the sheer laziness of its owners in not monitoring staff or food quality. It was a blatant abuse of the Masterchef brand. I am very torn over Gregg now, although the interactive Masterchef nonsense generator on The Guardian website still amuses me: