Every so often my local paper runs a ‘dine for £10’ collect the tokens style offer in association with selected restaurants. Having for once actually bothered to a) buy the paper and b) cut out three tokens, I went to Seven Dials in Brighton last night to redeem the offer. Now, admittedly, Seven Dials is several degrees posher than I would normally go, sans financial incentive. And I didn’t dislike my posh fishcake, posh lemon tart, and not particularly posh all-inclusive (small) glass of wine. But on the whole it was a bit of a old swizz.

Firstly and most heinously, the two courses offered for £10 were from the lunch menu, which is *already* £10 for two courses. So all our hard won tokens were entitling us to was the right to, erm, eat lunch at dinner time, while all around us more affluent diners were chowing down on the full dinner menu. Hardly calculated to make you feel special. And call me demanding, but when I go out to eat I like to be able to choose from more than two options, and for there to be at least one vegetarian choice. We did get an unexpected ‘complimentary appetiser’ – an espresso cupful of broccoli soup and a solitary slice of bread, but again where was our choice in the matter? It just felt slightly patronising.

Seven Dials is a converted bank, and the interior feels lofty and gloomy at the same time, with I’m sorry to say the residual stuffiness and formality of a million financial transactions. The waiting staff were friendly but quite keen to make us spend more than £10 each (noting that ‘the fishcake is quite small, you probably want a side dish of potatoes’ – no, I probably want DINNER not lunch grr – and bringing mineral instead of tap water. 12.5% service charge also not covered by increasingly rubbish-looking ‘£10’ offer. The final bill came to £30.)

The whole experience was dispiriting, in that for the same money we could have created a huge and delicious meal for the two of us and several friends at home, or gone to a nicer but more modestly priced restaurant, and not been made to feel like the plebs at the feast.