A FAMILY ended up eating Quality Street to fill themselves up after a pub served up a Christmas lunch they say was substandard, cold and late.

Emma Meader-Harris from Gorse Hill booked in a day of festive fayre at Covingham Drive’s Messenger pub.

For £37.99 the Greene-King owned eaterie offered a three-course set menu, complete with mince pies and coffee.

But instead of a plateful of Christmas cheer, Emma said the Messenger served up rock hard stuffing balls, cold dinner and lengthy delays.

“They ruined our Christmas day, without a doubt,” Emma said.

“It was a joke, you don’t want to cause a fuss but when you have waited an hour for a bowl of soup and two hours for a main course you have to.”

Emma’s family, which included her two teenage sons and parents, were left hungry after the Christmas dinner debacle,

“By the time I left was so angry, I just wanted a cup of tea. You don’t imagine you’ll be eating Quality Streets for your main meal at Christmas.”

When the eight-strong party arrived for their 2pm booking, Emma said her family were told they couldn’t sit down until cutlery was laid out.

“By 2pm there was no sign of cutlery, my mum has a disability and my husband has bad sciatica so I decided we were sitting anyway regardless of cutlery, by 3pm.

“By 4pm we were still waiting for our main meal even though three members of staff had come over and looked.

“I had to stab the stuffing balls like you would spear a fish and they were so hard you felt like they were going to break your teeth. The parsnips weren’t so much caramelised as burnt, the other food was cold, it was just a disaster."

Emma said she was promised a discount which never materialised.

“I was told the manager had already cashed up for the day. They offered me a bottle of wine when I don’t even drink which is a sign of how ridiculous it was.

“I paid an £80 deposit and the total came to £300 when only one of us ate our meal, I feel ripped off.

“There was another table waiting and had been a similar amount of time to us and the table next to us had a refund for their desserts that they had been waiting over an hour for and they gave up and walked out.

“I felt like I had let my family down because I booked the place, and to see my parents not eating because of the cold food was awful,” said Emma.

The Messenger Facebook page has since had more complaints from fellow diners.

In a Facebook post Messenger manager Jamie Williams apologised for “letting down” the diners.

“Folks. I want to apologise for what happened yesterday and I promise you that no one is more let down than myself as a manager. I have no idea what went wrong in the kitchen but for you people that eat with us regular know that this is not like the messenger. I know I can't put yesterday right as it's been done but I will be in contact with you individually to discuss this matter further. I can't apologise enough to each and every one of you.”

A spokesperson for the Messenger pub said: “We pride ourselves on providing excellent service for our customers and we apologise that, on this occasion, we did not meet the high standards expected of us. We are reaching out to the small number of affected customers to offer our apologies and gestures of goodwill and we hope to resolve this to each customer’s satisfaction, so that we can look forward to welcoming them back to the Messenger in the future.”