I had plans for my Christmas special. Firstly I decided that it would be a great idea to take a homeless person for a roast dinner, as a Christmas present. Over the course of time, the reality of how stupid an idea this was grew. How was I going to manage this? Just approach a homeless person on the street, “Excuse me, buddy, fancy a roast dinner?”. How would they trust that a random was going to buy them a roast dinner? Would they find it patronising?
After a while, I concluded that it was a ridiculous and unworkable idea.
And then I realised recently that this week was going to be review number 50. So I concluded that I should go somewhere special. I tried booking a few places but all were fully booked. I guess the Sunday before Christmas probably isn’t the best time to expect to be able to get a late booking.
I then realised that there were no trains from Bracknell either. I didn’t fancy a bus, I was still hanging from a very heavy Friday night so I concluded that it qualified as an emergency situation and that I should go to the nearest place – Peacock Farm.
I was advised before I went by a reader that the food “wasn’t all that”. I’ve eaten there before, and the menu definitely reads better than it tastes. That said, I did have some nice fishcakes there last year.
My expectations were not high.
I sat down, my cider soon followed, and sip of my drink later the food arrived – Wetherspoons-speed. Did they want rid of me that quick? Anyone would have thought that I’d gone to a Michelin star place straight after a night in a crack-house.
There were only a couple of tables so I was lucky. Or not? It does have extensive outdoor seating which is pleasant enough in the summer – some of the décor inside is a little eye-rolling, like the sign saying “On the 8th day God created coffee”. Fuck right off – and I’m saying that as someone unreligious. Bring on Friday’s celebration of capitalism.
The choices were beef or turkey for £10.75. I’d had turkey the week before so I had to break a rule, which is never to have beef unless I was confident that it would be nice. Granted, I have just realised that I could instead have broken the rule of not having the same meat twice in a row. Erm…
Anyway, my heart sank upon arrival – whilst I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t be as bad as the Wetherspoons roast, I quickly concluded without eating any of it that it wasn’t going to be a good roast.
The carrots were your standard mass-produced batons. It is at this point every week where I question why I am writing these reviews. I do spend quite a bit of most Sundays questioning it too, though that is more to do with the lack of motivation to make the effort. I’m cooking the family Boxing Day roast this year (first time I’ve ever been allowed to do more than just the sprouts), and I will be cooking them with oranges and bundles of herbs. These carrots had no such thought added.
The was a blob of mashed swede, a little more mustard-coloured than usual and slightly more appealing than usual, with a nutty yet fruity taste to it.
It took me a couple of minutes to remember what the final vegetable was – some rather washed-out yellow cabbage with the texture of your average dock leaf.
Then there were some roast potatoes. I don’t know how they managed to get them so un-roasted. There was no evidence that there had even been an attempt to roast them. They had this anaemic appearance, yet had some evidence of burnt herbs on top (not to taste) and were at least freshly cooked – rubbery on the outside but squidgy enough on the inside. I had worse last week.
But then it went from bad to worse. The Yorkshire pudding was a true abomination. It was very oily, as crunchy as a biscuit on the outside, rubbery on the bottom. It tasted of oil and I very nearly didn’t eat it. I really do not know why I ate it. I’m struggling to think of worse Yorkshire puddings right now.
And then we had the beef. I say ‘we’ in the same way that Margaret Thatcher used the word ‘we’. For I was by myself, which made the whole experience even more miserable and lonely than it would have been otherwise.
There were three, thick slices of dry, miserable, over-cooked beef. This is why I only eat beef at places that I am confident will do it well. Then again, they didn’t do anything well. It was at this point that I took a glance to my right, to see the couple next to me struggling to eat their beef roast dinners too. I assume that they have now filed for divorce.
Maybe it is a tad too harsh. The gravy was ok. In that it tasted like gravy – although it was thinner than water. I normally would have asked for more but I had already given up on the idea that I was going to like it as soon as it arrived. At least it wasn’t jus. Just won’t jus. Without you.
It started to rain as soon as I left the pub. It felt appropriate.
I don’t think I have a highlight. Perhaps the swede as it was the only item with any discernerable enjoyment attached to it. Or maybe the rain on the way home. The lowlight was a when I ate some of the dry, over-cooked beef with the biscuit-like Yorkshire pudding in the same mouthful.
It reached a Didcot on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale.
I was trying very hard to forget my two previous roast dinners, but I do think this was worse than both of them, and as such I am rating it a 2.6 out of 10.
I guess that it is a very good job that I didn’t buy a homeless person this roast dinner. They would have wondered exactly what they were being punished for had I taken them here. It would have been an embarrassment.
It does seem that I spend a lot of time moaning about crap roast dinners and I really am on a bad run at the moment. However I do appreciate that it could be much, much worse, so I have decided that I will donate the cost of my roast dinner to XXXXXX in the hope that they can use this more appropriately than I would have been able to. At least I will do once I get paid on Thursday.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas – unless of course you don’t celebrate Christmas in which case I wish you a nice free day off work. I even wish the landlady of The Shoulder Of Mutton a Merry Christmas. I will be back next Sunday in time to go for a roast dinner, so there will be no break from me. My commitment continues…for now.
I’ve made it to 50 reviews. I should make it to 60. Unless something changes, I doubt I will make it to 70.