Group dining continues to stretch the local hotels as the pace of the Christmas season increases. Last weekend, we put the spotlight on the Ambassador Hotel where a group (about 25) stretched it beyond its limits.

Signs were bad in the bar where just two people (including one linguistically challenged foreign national, who would have done well enough in a less demanding situation) couldn't really cope. Pints were poorly pulled and wrong mixers were being delivered as the rush got too much for them. Both lads behind the bar were doing their best but they could have done with one more.

And it was much the same story when the group eventually sat down to eat, the delay here caused more by the group than the hotel. But the Ambassador knew in advance how many they’d have to cater for in the room; they had two on duty and again could have done with one more. Indeed, had they had one more in the bar (where the rush was now off), he or she could have been transferred to the tables. Then maybe the duty manager had scheduled someone and had been left down.

The food? Not too bad. Adequate would be the word.

Why do some restaurants use fancy titles for their dishes when they can’t live up to them. For instance, the Ambassador Pate had a long winded title and the starter was supposed to include Brioche. The Pate was quite good as was the red onion accompaniment but the miserly piece of toast certainly wasn't Brioche and the dish (the amount of Pate was generous) could have done with two slices rather than the small one provided.

The main courses and desserts were average enough and most went down well. The company was good and occasion was quite enjoyable but the CorkFood verdict on the hotel was “could have done better”.

Overall, the message here is if you are going out on your own in Cork at this time of year, you’d be much better off going to a stand alone restaurant, which is used to coping with a full house on a regular basis.