Tag Archives: Harvester

Harvester – Review

Here it is, my first food review of the year. The target is to visit 100 tearooms in 365 days, but I’ve decided to review all the places I eat out to ensure we hit target. I’m hoping that it will also prevent me eating out too much, but I fear this may be a doomed hope.

We had to take Number One Son to the airport and Julia suggested eating on the way. Harvester in Wilford was conveniently placed so we tried there. It’s usually passable and often quite good. It provides free salad, fresh bread rolls and last time we went they had a special lunchtime offer.

Well, the offer is over, the bread roll baskets were empty and the salad looked like it had passed peak freshness several days previously.

Very disappointing.

The worst bit was when I ordered cod and chips.

“We don’t have any batter, but we can do you plain grilled cod.”said the server.

Because, of course, beautifully battered, golden, gleaming cod is very much the same as dull, dry, boring, grilled fish. (Please note that I’m being sarcastic here.) Frankly, I’d rather have a slice of grilled carpet.

Hake and Chips in Cromer

These are the fish and chips from Fish and Chips at Cromer. Just reminding you, and any passing Harvester employees, what they should be serving. Unsurprisingly, I have no pictures of plain grilled fish. There will be plenty of time for grilled fish when I’m in a care home and can’t find my teeth.

Did you know you can have your false teeth made with your name on so that you don’t lose them in homes or hospitals? One of our customers told me this as he makes them. You machine a recess in the plate, put in the name tag and then finish off with clear acrylic. Cunning, or what?

So I had a burger. No 1 Son (as I think of him in our less formal moments) had a chicken burger. Julia had gammon with egg. She was offered pineapple too but turned it down. I may have some reservations about aspects of the meal, but they can be quite generous at times. Even if they don’t have fresh salad, warm rolls or batter.

I was mildly sarcastic about the chef not being able to mix flour and water, but it seems the batter comes in bags of batter mix.

Without being too detailed or sarcastic, it wasn’t Harvester’s finest moment. They did replace the salad and refill the rolls before we left, but the moment had passed by then.

The food was good, even if the lack of salad, bread and batter was disappointing. Wasn’t keen on paying full price either, though it isn’t actually expensive by modern standards.

 

 

The Bempton Trip – a Shaky Start

The reports from Bempton Cliffs indicated there were 100s of Puffins at sea and hundreds more on the cliffs.

The weather forecast looked good.

We set off early, I had the reserve’s postcode in my pocket, the telescope in the back of the car and a song in my heart. A wife, the prospect of Puffins and plans for a large, cheap breakfast – what more could a man want?

We called at a Toby Carvery in Doncaster for breakfast.

£4.49 for a serve-yourself all you can eat breakfast isn’t bad, even though the tea is £2.09 extra.

The choice is –

  • Bacon (varying from about right to leathery and burnt)
  • British Pork Sausages (they were good, but sadly I could only fit four on the plate)
  • Homemade Potato, Bacon, Cheese and Onion Hash (distinct absence of bacon and lack of cheese – pretty flavourless really)
  • Plum Tomatoes (as in tinned tomatoes)
  • Free Range Fried Eggs (looked rubbery but I didn’t have any)
  • Baked Beans Breakfast (not particularly good flavour)
  • Yorkies with onion and bacon (again, a distinct absence of bacon)
  • Free Range Scrambled Egg (a big solid mass with water in the bottom of the pan – I suspect sous-vide, as we now call boil-in-the-bag)
  • White or Brown Toast (unlike Harvester, which also provides muffins and crumpets)
  • Roasted Button Mushrooms (bland)
  • Tobys Breakfast Gravy (see my later comments)

There was also jam and marmalade available to spoon out of massive bowls and red and brown sauce, also to be spooned out of bowls. There was some pre-packed jam but, unlike harvester, no honey.

So, how was it?

It was cheap, quite a lot cheaper than Harvester, which is my benchmark now Little Chef has gone. But it didn’t quite offer the choice of Harvester, even though the sausages are much better at Toby.

The gravy was a mistake. It ran through a hole in the bottom of the Yorkshire Pudding, which I had filled with sausages. Sausages and gravy – yes. Bacon and gravy, hash and gravy – passable. Tinned tomatoes, beans, mushrooms – I’ve had them all with gravy. Scrambled eggs and gravy…

That memory is going to live with me for a long time.

There are no Harvesters on the way to Bempton, which is why I’d decided to try a Toby. The food was OK, but I think next time we go that way we’ll try Sainsbury’s, which is just 50 yards away.

Was this to be the worst bit of the day or merely the thin end of the wedge?

 

 

A Tale of Two Burgers

On Monday, after working half a day, I took Julia to lunch at Harvester. That’s the sort of man I am – tight, unromantic and practical. You get free salad at Harvester, which appeals to my frugal side, and allows me to pretend I’m being healthy.

Julia had the Spicy Sea Bass with Prawns, which looked as good as it sounded. Unfortunately it’s fish and as such it’s just nicely presented cotton wool with overtones of slime and bones. As you may guess, I’m not a fish fan, unless it’s in a nice crispy batter or neatly sliced into finger-sized pieces.

Despite my views, she enjoyed it and tells me it was delicious, well-cooked and full of flavour.

I had the classic burger. They refer to it as a “craft” burger. I’m not sure why, because it’s just a burger. It looks like “craft” has migrated from craftsmen, to craft beers to relatively ordinary food. What next, craft sandwiches? To add to the weight of marketing verbiage, the “craft” burger is served in a toasted brioche bun.

I’m not greatly in favour of toasted brioche buns. I don’t really like the shiny brown look of them and though they are better than the normal flaccid “burger bun” with quick release sesame seeds I don’t think they’re much to brag about.

Add a dryish burger and though it was good it wasn’t quite as good as the hype and I was reminded of my old school reports – “could do better”.

Part 2 follows later.

(And yes, it would be good to have a photo, but I forgot. Sorry.)

Eggs California, well bless my soul!

The title is a rough paraphrase of what I felt on reading the breakfast menu on Harvester this morning.

Eggs California are “Smashed avocado and tomato salsa topped with two poached free-range eggs on a toasted breakfast muffin.”

They cost £6.29, compared with the “Unlimited Cooked” which also costs £6.29.

I’m not sure whether the concept or the price leaves me more speechless. (The “Unlimited Cooked” breakfast is, in theory at least, unlimited continental and unlimited cooked breakfast. And unlimited toast. It seems better value.)

I didn’t have time for the Continental as they were so quick with the service, not that I’m big on fruit, yogurt and cereal anyway. I’m still off bread and potatoes, so I didn’t order the hash browns or chips, and passed on the toast.

That left me with unlimited sausages, bacon, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding and eggs.

I managed to choke a few morsels down, then sneaked in a couple of crumpets with honey. Honey is good for you so it seemed foolhardy to pass it up.

As I sit here in the evening I am just starting to feel peckish again. Time for some soup and salad, I feel.

Before that I’ll merely draw your attention to the social and environmental costs of avocado. I started eating them regularly last year because they are good for me (particularly Hass avocados) and I’m now seriously thinking of stopping eating them.

Talking of eating…

Breakfast, Bench and Bug Boxes

The day started badly, as I had passed a disturbed night and felt tired, stiff and fragile. As the first light of a non-too-rosy dawn crept through the curtains, I groaned and turned over.

This was how I slept in, set off late and was unable to accomplish my first task of the day. We had barely laid out the parts for a new garden bench when the Monday group arrived, two hours earlier than we were expecting. As I’m not allowed to be a volunteer (due to the conflict of interest thing) we had to leave.

As a consolation prize Julia bought me breakfast at Harvester, which was excellent. Fruit, yoghurt, Full English, toast, marmalade, a quick crumpet (because it was there) and refillable tea. All for 75% of the cost of two Olympic breakfasts at Little Chef. I passed on cereal.

After that we returned home to find the internet was down. BT claim we hadn’t paid the bill. They seem to do this about once a year – cutting us off for non-payment without actually sending us a bill or a reminder.

By the time it came back on we were already back at the gardens tacking a pallet bench together ready for tomorrow.

Then it was shopping, chip shop and try to get a blog post done before midnight…

Done, with 12 minutes to go. I will add photos later.

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Bug boxes made from frames out of the school skip and filled with the hollow stems of scabious

A Quiet Lunch

 

I aimed for a relaxing day today as part of my long term strategy of being nice and relaxed when I pass through the doors of the Urology Centre tomorrow morning.

With this in mind I first went to pick up my prescription from the surgery, then went to the pharmacy (popped into the jeweller whilst waiting), got a phone call to collect Julia and then went to lunch.

It should have been easy, but as usual the day was full of irritation. First, I had a note from the doctor telling me I couldn’t have two sets of pills as records showed I had plenty of them. That was irritating because I had not ordered those pills. You really have to ask about their computerised system…

If I die unexpectedly check my prescriptions!

Parking the car, I found that to get my two hours of free parking I had to walk the length of the car park to get collect the ticket and then walk the length of the car park to put the ticket in the car. Then… well you get the picture. It was a lot of walking with a sore ankle.

Would it be difficult to put the machine in the middle of the car park?

There were several irritating customers in the pharmacy, including one who took advantage of my slow progress to overtake me and then launch into a complicated question. I’m actually immune to this sort of thing now, having experienced it so often, so no problem there.

Lunch was Harvester again, because it was the weather for salad and if I’m to eat salad  it might as well be free of charge. Salad is going to be in short supply over the next two days.

If it seems like we’re spending recklessly on meals out, we probably are, but fun is going to be in short supply over the next few days, so why not?

The only problem was one of the other diners. As he walked past with his family (we were overtaken again!) he plunged his hand down the front of his tracksuit trousers and had a good scratch. I’m not a great one for etiquette but working on the basis of a time and a place for everything, that was neither the time nor the place.

As I said to Julia: “Let’s make sure we get to the salad bar before that bloke.”

Well, you wouldn’t want to handle the serving spoons after he’d been touching them would you?

 

 

Belfast, Salad and Blogging

We went out to lunch at Harvester today. It’s not fine dining, but the Early Bird menu offers a good plateful for £6.99 and you get unlimited access to the salad bar. Believe it or not, it was the salad we went for. We’ve been a bit light on veg lately and I want my bowels in top condition for Thursday. From Wednesday I’ll be making notes, as nurses seem fascinated by my inner doings and ask some fairly detailed questions about bowels.

I would hate to be detained in hospital due to lack of fibre.

We are calling it a research trip, because we were looking at Julia’s bus route options for her new job.

I’m now going to moan.

There was a young woman in our section who completely destroyed the ambience.

She was loud, so it was difficult to hold our own conversation.

She was dull.

She’s a student.

When her companion occasionally tried an answer she didn’t listen.

She has trouble parking her car during international cricket matches (she must live near Trent Bridge);

She thinks, due to a list of ailments she’s suffered over the year, that her immune system has been compromised by the flat she lives in. Whatever she’s had has not affected her lungs.

She is going to New York to celebrate finishing her finals.

Her mother has already bought four outfits trying to find one that is just right for her daughter’s graduation.

She hasn’t even finished her finals yet, but she’s clearly confident of passing.

When she returned to the room after multiple trips to the salad bar she started talking (or shouting) while she was still yards away from the table.

Worst of all, she had a Belfast accent. (If you aren’t familiar with the Belfast accent, it’s abrasive and always reminds me of a chainsaw).

I was glad when she left.

She’s probably a lovely girl and clearly gets on well with her mother. I hope they have a good time at graduation.

But I never want to be in the same room as her again.

Do people have no sense of volume? Or do they just think we will all be interested in details of their banal life.

Ah, I suppose, when you think of it, I may just have described a blogger…