I can hear what you are saying. A Beefeater? Didn’t he learn anything from the rather Kafkaesque experience the last time he went to a chain pub?
But this time there was an even more important reason than simply the public service I offer to all of my dear readers as your dear leader (of roast dinners), and that was to take a good friend out for lunch.
Again, I hear you ask, why the hell would I take a good friend out for lunch at a Beefeater? Aforementioned good friend had a motorcycle accident some time ago and is in a rehabilitation centre – one’s lack of wheelchair pushing experience limited us to the nearest pub, which was a Beefeater. Sometimes one must be thankful whatever opportunity is available.
I approached the journey with some trepidation – my friend’s health in my inexperienced and hungover hands – it started with an almost 45’ slope on the driveway towards the busy main road – that could so easily have ended very, very badly! I was relieved to have resisted gravity sufficiently and then it was fairly simple to navigate from then on – though I noticed for the first time in my life just how uneven pavements are.
The choices were vegetable wellington (oddly tempting), double roast chicken, rump of lamb and slow-cooked beef. I really didn’t trust the chain to do a nice piece of beef, despite being allegedly slow-cooked (does that mean grilled rather than microwaved?) so plumped for the double roast chicken at £9.99. Oddly, had I gone to the Bracknell beefeater then it would have been £8.99. In Scunthorpe it is just £7.99.
They did miss an opportunity to upsell, as I have just discovered that I could have purchased extra Yorkies, gravy and cauliflower cheese.
We sat down outside in the sunshine, having re-arranged the garden furniture and supped our well-deserved beers.
Now I didn’t have high hopes for a culinary delight and upon arrival my consideration remained on the phlegmatic side. But it didn’t look anywhere near as bad as the Back of Abominations.
Firstly there was a rather tastleless carrot and swede puree. At least I assumed it was Swede. Having no taste I was judging on colour. This was beyond hope and comprehension. Maybe it was my hangover which I still have today, but it was just mulched baby food, and unattractive too.
The green beans had rather more bite to them, albeit on the squeaky side and tasted of water.
It should have come with peas but my regular readers will know my thoughts on peas so instead I had a separate plate of flat mushrooms delivered to me. An odd choice and an opportunity I declined. Mushrooms? Mushrooms??
There were 5 roast potatoes. At least I think there were as they were not hugely memorable. Possibly roasted at some point but probably factory-prepared and microwaved. They were edible and one even had a hint of a crispy edge. But mostly they had a soggy, rubbery skin with a soft inside. I’ve had worse. Mushrooms???
Despite having ordered double chicken, I was pleasantly surprised to receive two chicken breasts, twice as much as most placed would both with. The chicken breasts were somewhat flattened, and again on the tasteless side though they did have a hint of being chargrilled, albeit on a grill that tasted like it needed cleaning. It was tentatively ok.
The gravy arrived in an only slightly larger receptacle than a thimble, and immediately evaporated upon pouring. This surprised me as we were not in the Baghdad Beefeater. I did get chance to glance at it before it danced and disappeared hence-forth, and it was exceptionally thin and watery/oil based. As was the trend throughout, it had little to no taste.
I should have asked for more gravy, but I was too busy feeding both myself and my friend, who unfortunately is not currently able to hold onto knives/forks/food. A bit like me the night before. Or cigarettes. As a non-smoker it was certainly weird to light and hold someone’s cigarette. I even accidentally inhaled. There goes my chance of being president.
Finally, whilst I remember, the Yorkshire pudding wasn’t a bad effort. I assume it was a pre-packed effort but it had marginally more charm than an Aunt Bessie’s with a soft bottom and crispy edges. A reasonable effort.
The whole meal was edible but forgettable. You may have noticed though that I wasn’t in the mood to complain and still am not. In the grand scheme of life possibilities, it really wasn’t too bad. 4.0 out of 10.
Next weekend I might go on my adventure to Cookham that the random number generator selected some weeks ago. Or I might take a family of refugees for a roast dinner. Or I might just eat a plate of mushrooms with gravy.
Remember folks, always take your roast dinner opportunities.