It amuses me to watch how restaurants market themselves and how they use social media as a tool to generate pr and business. Recently, Cafe Luc in Marylebone ran a much hyped £1 promotion, which on the surface seemed as if you could get a meal for £1.
This hype reverberated around the net like a fever and generated a lot of buzz and retweets. The instructions were not unlike that of a treasure hunt where at a given time, you had to get onto their website and try your luck at getting one of those coveted spots. Great use of Scarcity here. The launch of this whole £1 offer was done very well as it created the desired effect in generating buzz and gaining them a lot of air time on social media platforms.
So I was lucky enough to snag a booking for dinner one evening during the promotion period and was quite looking forward to the meal if the reputation was anything to go by. Cafe Luc is opened by the father and daugher team from Belgium, Luc and Julie van Oostende.
When we arrived at 7.30, the place was empty except for 1 table. As the evening progressed, it got a bit busier but was not even half full. Not sure if the fake scarcity marketing technique worked for them. We had a very charming French waiter on his first day and when we asked for the name of the manager, he had no idea. I guess there was no training or communication there. As we sat down, the manager came over with a grubby printout pointing out the small print of our booking to actually explain that only one person will get the meal at £1 whereas one person would have to pay the full price. By the condition of that tatty piece of paper, some people must have questioned this issue before.
So this deal was for a set menu priced at £15.90 for 3 course, which on the face of it is quite a good deal.
We started with smoked salmon on a supermarket bought English muffin and a duck salad which was perfectly edible.
We both ordered the steak for main course, one medium, one medium well.We asked the waiter what cut of steak it was and he confidently told us that it was rump. A couple of minutes later, the manager came over to say that the waiter got it wrong and it was not rump but silverside and helpfully added, “at that price, what do you expect.”
This is what we got.
What is wrong with the next 2 pictures?
Notice the size? Perplexed by the difference in size, we asked the waiter and he didn’t know and asked the manager who duly told us “as it was cooked more, it had shrunk! ” That is a first.
Steak will only shrink if it was grain fed and not grass fed. Especially grain fattened meat prior to slaughter, causing the meat to retain a lot of water, pushing up the carcass weight. This equals poor quality and flavour but loads more dosh for the farmer, but I digress.
Not a great steak and was probably prejudiced by the managers comment earlier. The chips that came with the steak were stale and tasted like badly cooked oven chips.
The best part of the meal was the very rich Nutella Creme Brulee. Their Lemon Tart was not bad too.
That was not a great first impression of Cafe Luc. If their intention was to get more people to try their food, they failed miserably in making a good impression. Would I go back? Probably not. Lots of better places to eat in Marylebone like the Providores.