This is probably the best example you could have of how out of step I feel with modern life. Apologies is you are becoming tired of my view on this subject, but I have to blog or burst.
On Monday afternoon we went to the new East Bridgford Garden Centre. A perfectly good local garden centre has been taken over, new buildings erected, a massive car park built and a slice of retail Hell has been grafted onto the Nottinghamshire countryside.
I’m sure, from the crowd of people, that it will be popular, and that it fills a need in the lives of many people. This need isn’t necessarily for plants as most people seem to have left without visible purchases. It is also providing a lot of jobs, though they are mainly, it seems, for teenagers. Older people, as in people in their thirties, don’t seem to have much of a place here.
We didn’t see any of the staff who used to work at he old centre and Max the Parrot has gone too. It appears that he went to live elsewhere during the building work and liked it so much that he decided to stay.
A likely story. I think he was handed his P45 as part of the move from Garden Centre to slick corporate retail outlet.
Anyway, back to the fish and chips. They were a familiar and, we thought, safe, choice in a rather confusing cafe.
They gave us a “locator” for the table – a high tech version of a number on a stick. The tea arrived, just ahead of the meal. My thoughts were that the tea could have been a bit quicker and the main meal was available quicker than I was expecting.
The staff were quick, efficient and cheerful and the locator seemed to work well.
And that was as good as it got.
The fish portion was small. The chips were large, though not numerous. The tartare sauce came in a cheap paper cup, the watercress garnish was a bit of an afterthought. And the peas…
For £10.95 you expect a goodly dollop. What we got was a smear. Julia’s photograph exaggerates the size of the portion. I wasn’t sure whether it was the promised pea and mint puree or just a leftover from a poor attempt at washing up.
The good news was that the sauce was tangy, the caramelised lemon was juicy, the chips were well cooked and the pea and mint puree was delicious, even if it was brief.
Bad news – the fish was the worst I’d had in thirty years.
It was small, thin and had a pasty consistency with only a few discernible flakes. Mainly it was tasteless, and in parts was so bland as to be unpleasant, which probably explained why there was salt on the plate when the meal arrived – an attempt to introduce flavour.
It took me back to market day in Uttoxeter thirty years ago. I had fish and chips in a cafe – the fish was thin, bland and, as I got to the centre, still frozen.
I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t good value from the quantity point of view, and it was inexcusably poor from the quality point of view.
Surroundings were clean and bright, staff were great but the food is the important bit, and it was dreadful.
It’s very unlikely we’ll be going back.
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What a disappointment, Quercus! Best fish & chips here is 10 hrs away down at Murphy’s Irish Pub in Sonoma, California.
That’s a long way for fish and chips!
It was. 🙂
However, we went for ice cream at the
…Newfield Farm Dairy and that was excellent.
The plate looks rather sad, so total agreement with you. I don’t understand anymore why there is such a large plate for a small amount. In the “olden days” at least there was a garnish to hide the sad plain affair. Wonder about that when a boring plate is set in front of me. Me? I’m a complainer, while himself is never.
I’m a mutterer rather than a complainer. Anyway, it’s the accountants that are responsible for small portions, not the waiting staff, and you never see an accountant to complain to.
So sad when a place you like takes a turn for the worse. Sigh.
It happens. I will survive. 🙂
The peas look as if the fish was alive when placed on the chips and crapped in its death throes.
🙂 It certainly looks that way. It tasted like it had been dead a while…
I would have been bitterly disappointed with that. Ordering fish these days can be a bit of a lottery!
Even at my local favourite, the “haddock special” can vary considerably in size, though the menu does warn you.
Ah, the march of progress again under which people of taste and discrimination (and hearty appetites) get inexorably downtrodden. Rant on, I enjoy it. (I had a very good lunch today in a garden centre cafe. It was beef olives in excellent gravy.)
They used to do paninis with bacon, stilton and mango chutney, plus a side salad and portion of vegetable crisps. I liked them.
I’m afraid the independent garden centre with individualistic catering is under threat.
Glad to hear you had a good lunch – it’s nice to know there are still pockets of resistance to growing commercialism.