Is there a conspiracy created by mums all over the country, to ensure that all Christmas meals in restaurants are crap, so we enjoy theirs more on the actual day?
Wouldn’t be hard in my house: my mum is an awesome cook – and the BEST thing about Christmas day is the food (the boozy breakky, the presents, the arguments, the silly games… yeah ok, I know) but honestly – how hard is it to do a decent roast dinner, which pubs and restaurants seem to manage well throughout the rest of the year?
The purpose of this post is not to slag off any restaurants in Exeter, (although if anyone reads this and would like to prove how good their Christmas meal is, then I would be happy to eat it and write about it!) but to have a good old rant about shit quality for no reason.
One of the (very few) perks of not having a permanent contract anywhere means I work for a number of different places, and this year it meant I got invited to TWO Christmas meals! Never one to turn down a meal and a chance to get dressed up, I was very pleased about 2 Christmas meals in one week taking place. I do my best not to have expectations, but I do – I want good food wherever I go, no matter who is paying for it and what it costs. I once sent a steak back in Whetherspoons (to the embarrassment of my friend who said “But what do you expect for less than a tenner?”) and believe that there is no excuse for poor quality food.
The first meal – “Turkey and all the trimmings” was a very large plate (hate that), with two slices of turkey on it, covered in gravy, one pig in blanket and a “medallion” of stuffing. Then came two bowls of veg: potatoes in one and baby sprouts and unpeeled, undercooked baby carrots in the other. No parsnips and oops, cranberry sauce offered as an afterthought. The meal was worth over 30 quid.
The second meal pissed me off before I even started it because I chose it in a advance and was given the option to make any special requests. I asked for sweet potato instead of potatoes, knowing it was possible as it was on the vegetarian option. I don’t eat potatoes at the moment (it’s an arthritis/nightshades thing – might write about it later). When my meal arrived, they apparently had no record of my request, and whilst they were sorting it out, my meal was sitting under a heat lamp, drying out nicely. The vegetables were plonked on the table – overcooked, dull in colour (seriously grey looking “red” cabbage and grey-green sprouts) and clearly reheated. My soup was pretty grim, and oh my lord the chicken liver parfait next to me resembled a slab of clay in colour. The meal was worth 10 quid less than the previous one. Despite the amount I drank, both meals were pretty poor in terms of food quality.
As I was walking home discussing it with a friend, she seemed to think I was being rather negative, and should just have enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t paying for it and enjoyed a meal out in good company. Yes of course that’s true, but my concern here is that I think restaurants think this too! Oh well, they won’t mind, they’re not even paying for it, and they’ll just get drunk. And then the quality goes down the drain.
No. That is NOT ok. Just because I am not paying for it myself doesn’t mean I should get shit served up on a plate. I could be blind drunk and still find a crap meal crap. And just because I’m not paying, doesn’t mean someone else isn’t. And of course, we all go very British don’t we, when someone else is buying your meal. We gush about it, secretly hating it, but not wanting to offend anyone. Some people say that it’s hard with a big group (there were 13 of us), but I contest that too: If you can’t cater for large groups, don’t offer the service. Last year I had a brilliant Christmas meal at Buckerell Lodge (well done you!) so I know it IS possible!
So come on restaurants! Just because we’re a bit drunk, and the boss is paying, doesn’t mean you can serve us overpriced crap. Yes, it makes me love my mumma’s cooking all the more, but it doesn’t make me want to come back to your restaurant.