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I’ve eaten out several times since my birthday last week; its that time for year. My experiences have ranged from the sublime to the downright careless.

I mentioned The Crown at Roecliffe in my previous post and the food there was delicious. The customer service was careful and attentive without being overbearing and the whole evening was faultless. Yet, locally, I joined three ex-colleagues for lunch the other day in a well respected eatery and it verged on being uneatable.

Because I have dined well here before, I won’t mention the venue but, as I also ate here again a few days later (see below) with just as little care in some of the food preparation, I will blog about it and only re-visit when some time has passed and I fancy risking it again.

Sausages
Us four ex-colleagues were there to chat and catch up, so the food was only of secondary concern – I had a Sausage Sandwich (with caramelised onion and apple sauce). What can go wrong with a sausage sandwich? Well first of all, I was offered ciabatta or baguette – neither of which would be my preferred choice of bread for a sausage sarnie. Nevertheless, I chose the former based on my knowledge of the sort of baguette bought and served in pubs up and down the country: tasteless lumps of microwaved-from-frozen cooked dough – unlike their crunchy French namesake.

Old grumps

Sadly, the ciabatta was a bad choice too because it lacked any substance that allowed me to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich. I had to use a knife and fork (God forbid!). As the rectangular plate contained a smidgeon of salad and half a bag of sliced, raw, red onions, and as the sausages themselves (I’m coming to them) were blobbed with tinned/bottled apple sauce, the whole thing was pretty unmanageable.  The onions were a surprise inasmuch as the menu suggested they’d be there, it just didn’t say they would be raw – why would they be? The sausages themselves, particularly knowing their provenance and the competition this well renowned butcher has locally, were sadly lacking in flavour. Just thin grey fingers of ‘something’ to hold the name ‘sandwich’ together.

They were busy though, I’ll give them that and for that reason I’m forgiving the barely cooked and lightly coloured chips and I’m forgiving the time it took to serve three sandwiches and a steak pie – but I cannot forgive the poorly kept beer. Watery Hobgoblin! I can’t re-live that.

Mum’s Birthday
My mum was 85 last weekend, she won’t mind me saying because she keeps forgetting 🙂  However, as I say, we’ve had some good meals here before and had booked a Sunday lunchtime table to celebrate. Remember, this is the same pub/restaurant as mentioned above.

I avoided the Hobgoblin.

The service on each occasion was good. Better on Sunday than Thursday but on each occasion the service and attention to orders etc. was good.  My starter was OK: A small piece of Halibut with sweet and sour sauce. I didn’t expect any more than I got, a few bones still in it and commercially tinned/bottled sweet and sour sauce. I still ask myself “why?” but can’t really say. Anyway, my main course was better: Roasted belly port with prawns and saute (ish) potatoes. It was good, the only thing letting it down was the prawns served on top – which prevented the skin from properly crisping up. But it was tasty.

Goat’s cheese tarte tatin

Hummus
However, Sharon’s choices were badly made (in both the sense that she made a bed choice and the sense that the dishes were in fact badly made). How can you ruin hummus? This is one product the chef should have bought in! It was lacking any real flavour, was watery and under seasoned. I know there are different ways of combining the chickpeas, the tahini (if used) the garlic, the olive oil and the seasoning but this, served to Sharon, was just home-cooked chickpeas (drain these well Chefs, drain them well), food processed to within an inch of their lives and lightly seasoned. And to dip in it? Griddled Asparagus (the menu said that) and boiled Chantenay carrots. Boiled!! Sharon had misunderstood the menu – it said griddled asparagus and carrots – she’d expected raw carrot. But boiled! ffs.

Her main course was less of a disappointment but still not what it should have been. A goat’s cheese tarte tatin. The picture here is what she expected (from elsewhere), what she got was something a whole lot smaller.

Rant over.

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