Restaurant reviews: how hard can they be?

You don’t get to be my shape, with my cardiac history, without knowing where the cutlery’s kept. Not that I’m any kind of gourmet, you understand, just greedy. This restaurant reviewing lark looks like a piece of cake — as it were — so I thought I’d try my hand. I’m open to invites. Here’s my first shot at it.


Lunching al Fresco

They don’t accept bookings for lunch so my companion and I were pleased to find a corner table with a view into the kitchen.  Cotton wool clouds drifted across a blue sky – clearly visible as we were seated outside – but the green swell of the South Downs was largely hidden behind a vast lorry in the layby five yards away, proud to claim ownership by a Mr. Norbert Dentressangle. The ambient noise level was exceedingly high, but this was only to be expected alongside the dual carriageway A27.

The burger van that had made its home near the end of the bypass over the past year had won many plaudits on the local grapevine for both the quality and range of its array. It was high time to try it out for ourselves.

The clearly presented menu, or blackboard, promised – with a most welcome lack of pseudo-French — an almost infinite combination of bacon, eggs (any way), sausage (Cumberland, other), burger, pudding (black) with choice of bread (white, brown, roll soft or hard, ciabatta), but the selection process didn’t end there. How would we prefer our bacon, should the bun be buttered? Decisions, decisions. Would it be insulting to enquire about the whereabouts of the ketchup?

My partner opted for the double egg (opened), and two links with extra rashers, crisply done, on large soft white plain roll which she pronounced delightful, if a trifle heavy, and she made a respectable dint in it. She washed this down with a mug of instant coffee, no milk or sugar – unassuming in its degree of bitterness but not altogether undrinkable. I went for my standby option, the full works, in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be involved in any physical work over the next few days. I chose a brew of builders’ tea as accompaniment, which was on the mark, though I would have preferred a less full milk. Regrettably neither of us had left room for the selection of appetising home-made cakes.

Our table would have benefitted from its annual wipe but the local free newspaper was available in substantial quantities, so serving as a useful barrier between trouser and “chair”. The quotient of wasps was no more nor less than proportionate for the time of year and proximity to the waste bin.

Service was speedy and the order was correctly delivered. We were made to feel most welcome by our efficient host, colleagues and court of “regulars”, though for any future visit I would almost certainly dress less formally with a view to blending in. And I won’t make the mistake next time of questioning the organic credentials, sourcing and food miles of the produce, nor proffering my Amex card as payment.




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