Bad service and mediocre pizza: I visited Warwick Arts Centre’s new restaurant

Spoiler alert- don’t expect to get your order

You may have noticed the jungle that’s been growing out of the Warwick Arts Centre recently- it belongs to Benugo bar and kitchen, the newest food spot on campus.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent the last few weeks anxious to enter this invitingly green establishment, so you can imagine my excitement when me and my friends decided to go on a Friday night.

It seems the objective of this restaurant is to demonstrate the truth of the phrase “never judge a book by its cover”. On the outside, this restaurant is beautiful: with a canopy of cascading plants, mirrored ceilings and an amazing bar. But the reality is aggressively underwhelming: bad service and mediocre pizza.

The entire budget for this restaurant was blown on table plants

We were told after queueing for about 15 minutes that the menu was limited to just pizza. This was fine, but bizarre as we saw other dishes being served to nearby tables. However at this point I was still misguidedly excited and not bothered by this menu limitation at all, so I ordered a pizza and a glass of wine, excited to be drunk and full of bread.

To my unfathomable dismay, my wine never appeared, despite asking for it repeatedly over a 90-minute period. I’ve worked in the service industry so I know firsthand the underpaid stress of being a waitress and that sometimes things get forgotten. But surely my single glass of wine wasn’t a tall order, especially given how frequently I had requested it? It felt like they had identified me as an alcoholic and were staging a united intervention to stop me from drinking.

My friend ordered a mojito which also never arrived, resulting in the most bizarre interaction of the evening. When we enquired as to the whereabouts of the nine quid cocktail, the waitress seemed taken aback and exclaimed: “We don’t do mojitos. Who told you we do mojitos?” We pointed timidly to the drinks menu which read “mojitos”, after which she explained they weren’t serving cocktails that day, a Friday night, which would’ve been good to know when we ordered it an hour and a half earlier.

Another man came over to speak to us about the mystery of our drinks, and he assured us if we came back another time and gave his name, we’d get cocktails on the house. But we didn’t know his name, and we knew we’d not be coming back another time anyway. Perhaps the most perplexing element of this interaction was the woman sat behind us, sipping contentedly on a mojito.

Dejected, thirsty and disgustingly sober, we just asked for our non-existent drinks to be taken off the bill because at this point we’d already finished our food. We resolved to take our money to Rootes where we could get a bottle of wine for half the price.

Not best pleased.

What perplexed me most about the experience was the restaurant was at about half capacity and teeming with staff, so there was not much to blame for our lack of drinks except disorganisation. Getting the attention of a waitress was persistently a wild goose chase: they seemed to huddle around the till and avoid eye contact as if we would turn them to stone. We all agreed we could’ve left without paying and none of them would have noticed- in that way, this is an ideal dinner spot if you’re on a tight budget.

At the end of the day the pizza was not exactly worth the wait – mainly because it would’ve had to blow my mind to compensate for the time it took to arrive. The dough was a little bit raw in the middle and it cost ten quid and two hours of my life I’ll never get back. I recommend giving Benugo a visit if you’re looking to age prematurely from minor stress. Or if you’re a masochist.

Maybe my experience was a one off, that can be put down to the restaurant not being properly established and the staff still finding their bearings; perhaps it was just a bad night at the end of a long week. I’ve heard other people talk about positive experiences eating here, so I’d try it for yourself before you reach any conclusions.

Benugo have been contacted for comment.

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