Granada's motorway service stations have been labelled the worst in the UK in the latest report to condemn motorway food.
Consumer guide Which? asked 11 inspectors from the Good Food Guide to eat at 39 Welcome Break, RoadChef and Granada restaurants. The three companies run 71 of the UK's 76 motorway service stations.
More than half of the meals were rated as poor or very poor, and only one meal in the 39 eaten was given an excellent rating - that was at the Red Hen restaurant at the Welcome Break at Abington, on the M74.
The food was also found to be expensive.
Last month, a survey by the AA and other European motoring organisations criticised the quality of the UK's motorway food (Caterer, 13 July, page 9).
In the Which? report, Granada's Fresh Express chain was given the lowest overall rating and the lowest score for value for money and service. Its food was described as "dreary", "inedible" and "disgusting".
Little Chef, which also belongs to Granada, did not fare much better. One inspector bought a Little Chef meal for £11.67, which he deemed "appalling" value for money.
The report read: "Unless you're faint with hunger or bursting for the toilet, avoid the restaurants at Granada's service stations."
RoadChef's food was also rated as poor. One inspector said of his RoadChef experience: "The meal consisted of soggy chips, fish with partly cooked batter and tough peas, followed by a Danish pastry the Danes would disown."
Welcome Break was found to be the best, although its food was only rated as acceptable. Last week, food critic Egon Ronay signed with Welcome Break in a bid to help it improve its food.
The Office of Fair Trading is due to report soon on its investigation into food prices at motorway service stations. If it finds evidence of potentially anti-competitive practices, it has the power to refer the matter to the Competition Commission.
by Louise Bozec