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Whitelocks: rudest pub in the North?

Jonathan Schofield shouldn’t have just asked for a pudding in Leeds

Written by . Published on March 22nd 2011.

Whitelocks: rudest pub in the North?

So the editor of Leeds Confidential, Simon Binns and I, had melted in a scorching Leeds Harvey Nichols restaurant on a sunny March day. To cool down we decided to skip down the road and enjoy a pudding traditional style in the classic boozer Whitelocks. Maybe a couple of pints too. It was 2.15pm.

There are still managers and landlords who’d rather on some stupid, inexplicable, point of principle about the eating of puddings in the bar not the dining area, decide that they could do without the £20 we would have spent.

We sailed in and said something along the lines of, “Hello everybody, we love you all and we want a pudding and a pint, from your famous hostelry.”

There were some nervous smiles and then the mature Antipodean lady sat us in the dining area and passed us menus.

We looked and we didn’t find.

“No, I wasn’t joking,” I said. “We just want a pudding and a pint. We’ve eaten the mains and starters in Harvey Nichols. Please can we have the dessert menu?”

The waitress said: “You can’t just have a dessert. You have to get the meal first.”

I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.

“Why would we want to eat a whole meal again?” I asked.

The lady looked doubtful.

“Look, we have good English money and we’re prepared to use it,” I said in exasperation. “Don’t you want the pub to get the money?”

“I’ll have to ask the manager,” said the waitress and left.

We were incredulous. The couple next to us in the room, one of four other people, were incredulous.

“I’m sure we’ve just had a starter here before,” said the kindly older lady of the pair.

The waitress returned.

“The manager said you can have just a pudding....”

Hallelujah, angels broke into song, the world smiled.

“But you can’t eat it here, you’ll have to move to the bar,” she said with extreme satisfaction.

Boo, hiss, devils came and danced on the tomb of our dessert.

“Why?” I asked knowing it was hopeless.

“Because that’s what he said,” she said with finality.

We left without buying anything.

As we walked out it struck me that at a time when pubs are closing all over the place, when this defining national institution is under threat, that there are still loads of managers and landlords with this shocking and stupid and crap attitude.

There are still managers and landlords who’d rather on some fucking stupid, inexplicable, point of principle about the eating of puddings in the bar not the dining area, decide that they could do without the £20 we would have spent.

The guy at Whitelocks is clearly earning too much money - from the four other people in the dining area and the three other people in the bar.

He’s made me never want to visit there again. We took our dessert hankerings and our cash elsewhere. The place stank of damp anyway.

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35 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

UhhrMarch 22nd 2011.

Sunny April day? Is this story nearly a year old? Must have been some session

EditorialMarch 22nd 2011.

Jonathan often gets ahead of himself, and sometimes even meets himself coming back

J E SibberingMarch 22nd 2011.

oooooooo how stupid is that?

Twice in the last few months I have visited two of Manchester's 'finer dining' establishments with friends, and partaken of dessert/cheese and vino, having eaten mains elsewhere. No problem at all.

In fact we're thinking of doing this more often.

AtalantaMarch 22nd 2011.

Oh this is funny. Can't stop giggling.

simon12234March 22nd 2011.

My university friends and I left without buying anything in 1977 when they wanted 37p for a pint of bitter at a time when most of the other pubs in the city centre charged about 27 - 28p.

I've been back many times since and the beer is not priced 30% higher than the places nearby, so some things have improved.

Contemporary analogyMarch 22nd 2011.

Bravo Simon, a good memory is a wonderful thing. I've not been back since 1872 when they insisted on serving cholera as a side and charging more than twice other Leeds pubs.

Bet LynchMarch 22nd 2011.

Sometimes pubs deserve what they get when they have managers who just can't be arsed and think they're giving you a privilege by letting you give them money.

AnonymousMarch 22nd 2011.

I agree, with times the way they are it's difficult enough trying to run a business without being flamed online by some grumpy journo over some imagined slight. Maybe they didn't want to have to make up another table just for dessert, maybe they were busy, maybe it wasn't worth keeping staff on for an extra hour to pander to an overinflated ego. Whatever. Though there's no excuse for rudeness or bad service, any grown up would have taken the offer of food in the bar or complained to the manager in person.

NoodlesDavidMarch 22nd 2011.

She's been Yarkshired. It mecks perfect sense t' sombody and that arl that matters - nah p**s of wi yer fancy ways.

DibigoMarch 23rd 2011.

Not sure what to make of this. Why you'd want to eat at one place, leave and go to another place for a dessert and a beer is beyond me, but still you You should be able to if you want shouldn't you?

WhitesidesOnsideMarch 23rd 2011.

I'm with Digibo on this one, bit weird that you would leave a place pre desert, then go looking for one in a city centre boozer. Looking for a complaint if you ask me(not that you are of course...).

Jonathan SchofieldMarch 23rd 2011.

The reason is explained in the opening paragraph, it was too hot in HN. And secondly eating a dessert and nothing else is what it's all about. Asking for some bread and nothing else is what it's all about. Just having a half is what it's all about. Just saying actually can I order off the menu please (as long as the request is fairly simple) is what it's all about. All the campaigns of free jugs of tap water is a good one too. It's all about service and wanting to have a dessert and a pint. And paying £20. Good for the pub I reckon. Nor gentlefolk did I get a film of the way all this was delivered. That would have been funny.

Simon BinnsMarch 23rd 2011.

If I may...Harvey Nichols was really hot, so we decided to go to Whitelocks, as they do good puds.

The place had four people in it. We were told we couldn't have a pudding, then we could.

But not if we sat there, we had to move nine yards instead. We just wanted to buy stuff.

We couldn't.

It was odd, and humorous, in a deeply British way.

I've often gone on the hunt for pudding and booze with no main meal. Is that weird? Maybe. But I like it.

JohnMarch 24th 2011.

"The rudest pub in the North"? Are you sure you're from Rochdale?

NoMoreInsideJobsMarch 24th 2011.

No address ? Not everyone knows Leeds.
Yorkshire is a very strange place. I remember going to a quiz night on Tuesdays in a pub in Sheffield which was marketed towards students but the bar manager was quite spectacuarly rude to all students and anyone else without a yorkshire accent.
He also didnt like people taking their kids into the family room.

marywinehouseMarch 24th 2011.

What's the need for the f word in this article? It makes it neither funnier, nor adds any gravity. Mancon have become increasingly sweary of late. It's unnecessary when all you're talking about is the contents of your guts, the cost of it and the way this arrived at your table.

EditorialMarch 24th 2011.

And as well as the food, you mean the budget, the plays, the fashion, the issues, the politics, the people, the buildings, the life of Manchester. 35 stories a week, six or so stories on food is all. F*cking loads of stuff to chew on.

marywinehouseMarch 24th 2011.

Sorry. I missed all the stuff about the budget, the plays, the fashion, the issues, the politics, the people, the buildings and the life of Manchester in that particlar article. I just thought it was about someone crying because he couldn't have a cake. My point was about the swearing. Thanks for addressing it in the same tone as the article; like a child.

TrishaMarch 24th 2011.

I think Mary should be offered a pint and pudding as a pleasant response

Alex BerkelyMarch 24th 2011.

I'm struggling hard to remember any swear words aside from this on Mancon. Maybe Gordo. But there are still a lot less of them than in the Sunday papers.

patheticMarch 24th 2011.

Manchester Confidential is just plain nasty these days. Very VEry VEry quick to right an article about bad service but the worst service ive ever known was being told by MANCON staff on a cold call that i had to decide there and then whether i wanted to pay MONEY for a service i wasnt sure i wanted (namely the hero card). When i said 'i'm sure you understand i want to speak to the missus and make sure we were agreed on spending money on this was a good idea' i was told 'well i dont understand to be honest...

then i asked why i was being given the hard sell and she said that her superiors had told her to do everything to make people buy on the phone and not let them go away and think about it... part bad management - but part sillyness of the seller for not filtering out this from our conversation..

WhitesidesOnsideMarch 24th 2011.

I won't mention the time i went to The Angel (when R-O-B was in the kitchen) only to be told that they had never heard of the 'Hero' scheme (despite it clearly being on the list), nor the time i booked a table (on the Mancon night) at the sadly now departed Ithaca, only to be told after 3 hours of waiting that they were over-subscribed and that we wouldnt be eating there that night (not even an offer to cover any of the £50 bar bill we had built uop in that time), nor the time when we signed up to the quite clearly advertised "two meals for £25" night at Abode, only to be told (amongst several other bemused guests) that the bill was actually £50 as opposed to the £25 that we had been led to believe we would be paying. Other than that, great service......CONFIDENTIAL COMMENT, THE ANGEL WAS NEVER ON THE HERO CARD SCHEME AND ITHACA WAS ON THE DEFUNCT PRIVILEGE CARD SCHEME WHERE THERE WAS A PROBLEM ON THE OCCASION YOU MENTION. LISTEN WE'RE ALWAYS SORRY WHEN WE DELIVER POOR SERVICE.

ConfidentialMembershipsMarch 24th 2011.

Regarding the rant above by @pathetic.
It was myself you spoke with regarding the Heroes membership. I'm sorry to hear that you felt you were being hard sold and it was never my intention to make you feel like this.

Please could you call in to the office on 0161 832 2880 and ask for extension 213 so we can discuss and rectify this matter.
Thank you.

ladydriverMarch 25th 2011.

The customer should always be right but you sound slightly obnoxious to me

WhitesidesOnsideMarch 25th 2011.


How incredibly sincere.....!

FFSMarch 25th 2011.

We're all grown-ups aren't we? If you can't handle one f-word on a website aimed at adults, you need help.

Pete WoffendenMarch 25th 2011.

Not very sweary Mary. I don't think swearing is particularly big or clever either. Equally, the article is hardly Jonathan Schofield's finest journalistic moment. However, he was clearly pissed off by his experience and wished the readership to know about it. If you don't like it, suggest you look elsewhere. P.S. Hope you forgive my little faux pas.

DibigoMarch 25th 2011.

Mary is spot on. That's what this article 'is all about'(!), someone cycing because he can't have a cake. First I thought, yeah give this fella his cake, you sell cake, he wants one, he's got money. But then I remembered it was cake that we were talking about and it all seemed so pompous and made me feel a bit sick; a grown Englishman writing about his disappoinment at not getting a dessert.

Pete WoffendenMarch 25th 2011.

'Englishman'Dibigo? Aren't we all in danger of sounding a bit pompous here?

DibigoMarch 25th 2011.

Blue P. Sorry mate didn't mean to cause offense.

DibigoMarch 25th 2011.

Offence even

CorrectitudeMarch 25th 2011.

Spot on report. It's this sort of attitude which is killing pubs all over the country. Give people a pleasant experience not one straight from the handbook of the Blackpool landlady and we'd all be happy. Just smile and say yes. I bet you could go into Cafe Rouge after two in the afternoon and have a pudding. They'd love you. If somewhere that dull could achieve decent service why not a famous Yorkshire institution.

IndeedMarch 25th 2011.

Sounds like a horrible pub

SpangledMarch 25th 2011.


I thought the deal was you try and sell things to customers, not make it hard for them.

Does it matter if it's a pudding, a pint or a packet of nuts? Alan Sugar wouldn't stand for it.

Recession - what recession?March 28th 2011.

Couple of points:
when other half and I first started to holiday in Greece, it was accepted that diners would go to other establishments for dessert - specialism etc. Why not? If you're paying, and you know that what you want is available somewhere else - go there for it. It is your pound, spend it where you will!
The point of the article, though, is the thing we seem to find bloody impossible in this country - SERVICE. Even if the place was hammered out, you should try to look after your customer, no matter how "mad" their request may seem. When quiet, do everything/anything to make sure that they will remember you and come back. A couple of months ago, I was in Cafe Rouge in Didsbury at 11.53 a.m. They refused to take an order for 2 salads, because they were only on the breakfast menu until noon! OH and I had dined there a couple of times a month for the last year or so. Never again! Oh - no other diners in the place when we were there!

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