It's got some of the worst reviews of any cafe in the country and has been called New Zealand's own Fawlty Towers.

Visitors to Springfield Store & Cafe at the base of the Southern Alps on the western fringe of the Canterbury Plains have little positive to say about their experiences.

On travel review website, Trip Advisor, it has been rated 27 times, and 18 graded Springfield Cafe as "terrible".

They complain about the grumpy, "rude" staff and liken it to Fawlty Towers, the classic British sitcom about a badly run hotel.


Various negative encounters include being abused over tomato sauce or for asking for directions and featuring the "rudest woman in New Zealand".

One reviewer said, "We asked if this cafe sold the local newspaper and were told that it was a cafe not a newspaper shop."

But despite the overwhelmingly bad reviews, when I popped in today I enjoyed a pleasant, ordinary cafe experience.

The man behind the counter chatted cheerily about the prospect of the winter's first snow as he made my flat white.

When I asked for a powerpoint to plug in my laptop, he happily pointed me to one.

As I sat there working, sipping my coffee and nibbling on my coffee cake (cream cheese icing to cake ratio on the meagre side), we chatted more about pending snow and was told how a local beekeeper predicted the cold snap last week when his bees finally shut up shop.

Signs assured me the "Big Breakfast'' was "a real good feed!" and of proper tongs etiquette when lifting food from the self-serve cabinets.

It was chilly, but when I went to the car to retrieve my jacket, and sleety snow flakes flecked my head, the owner appeared to crank the heater.

Customers who came and went got the same polite, chatty, friendly service that I did.
Maybe it was the prospect of snow, and a pick-up in ski and winter sports trade, but the staff were smiling, happy today.

And I had a fine time. Three stars. Average.