Last night I found myself back at the O2 for the Andrea Bocelli concert. The arena wasn't fully open, the very top level of seating (level 4?) wasn't in use but other than that it seemed sold out. So how did I find?
We got there at about 4pm with plans to eat before the concert, I thought it would be a nice idea to try a restaurant out. There were queues for all of them but we settled on the Spur Steak and Grill. When we got to the front of the queue we were told that the kitchen was too busy for us to eat right then but that if I gave my phone number I would be called when we could have a table. I was told it could take about 15 or 20 minutes and I said that was OK.
After 20 minutes of strolling around (which passed reasonably quickly as we checked out the other restaurants and the merchandise stand) there was no phone call and we headed back. There was now an even bigger queue and I'd had no phone call. After some dithering about considering eating somewhere else (a 25 minute wait for Frankie and Benny's) we were on the verge of giving up and heading off for a hot dog when I got the call.
So we went to our table, which was wobbly. Not impressed.
However from there it was all up hill. The service was great and our waitress was, as seems typical of the O2, very very helpful. There was a bit of a wait for my first beer but after that everything was smooth. The table was even fixed with some napkins. The food was really pretty good as these things go. I asked for a medium rare steak knowing that in most places they will overcook and you'll get something that still has some pink in the middle. However they did it exactly as I asked for and very nice it was too. Ms. Charlton Above Average tried the strawberry milk shake and really enjoyed it going for another when she had polished the first one off.
For two mains, two starters and two rounds of drinks we paid about £45 which seemed pretty reasonable.
The oddest thing was the toilets..... The restaurant itself was playing 50's and 60's type music but then you head into the loos and suddenly you're hit with Native American tribal music and chants. Is that meant to help relax you? Is it meant to get you into the "right" mood? Is it meant to get you back into the restaurant ASAP? Odd.....
So two big thumbs up for Spur's.
But, and there is a but.
When we were leaving at about 6pm the queue was huge. There simply aren't enough places for people to eat yet. As I said earlier the top level of the Arena wasn't open so it wasn't a maximum capacity crowd, it could have been oh so much very worse than it was. I don't think I'll eat there again (if indeed I go there again) before more restaurants open up. That's no comment on the quality but just about over demand.
On to the concert.
Well once again there were more encounters with members of staff and without fail they were all cheerful and very helpful.
We were sat on the floor of the Arena and unlike when I was sat up on level 4 I had plenty of leg room. As with level 4 though the view and the acoustics were excellent.
Getting out was a bit problematic. It seemed intended that we use the big staircases at the back of the Arena to get out, however people were climbing over the fence to the seats on the side (level 1?) and going up there. Some security staff were trying to stop people doing it and there were some grumbles about needing more exits from people in the crowd. In the end we went out some side tunnel at the back which took you through some of the guts of the Arena (lots of pipes and ducts overhead) before popping out near the restaurants.
It did seem to be a bit awkward getting us all out but I've got to point out that I was right near the front so some extra exit time is to be expected.
All things told very good indeed. The only let down being not enough of it being open yet to handle the number of people going there.
We walked home fearing the scrabble for a bus. However some buses did go past us and they didn't appear to be too full at all so maybe it would have been fine.
All told it was a great evening, it just needs to be able to handle more people.