View Full Version : The Pub Curmudgeon - I'm not eating that!

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05-02-2016, 16:51
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A slightly undercooked
chicken goujon

Martin Taylor recently reminded me of my very unsatisfactory bacon sandwich at the otherwise rather wonderful Cock Inn (https://retiredmartin.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/broom-gravity-granola/) at Broom in Bedfordshire. In retrospect, I should have sent it back rather than struggling my way through it, but it illustrates a wider problem – when is it reasonable to reject food? The question of returning beer has been extensively discussed on this and other blogs, but not returning food.
I have to admit I am a somewhat eccentric and picky eater, and so I have to make a judgment as to whether something is actually horrible or just not to my taste. I often have no alternative but to order dishes in pubs in the full knowledge that I will not eat some of their components. This is why I tend to avoid eating main meals, as opposed to snacks, in pubs.
But, over the years, I’ve had plenty of utterly terrible food in pubs. The chicken burger that was a vile chunk of grey rubbery meat immediately springs to mind, likewise the supposed chicken tikka baguette where the contents were essentially just a curry-flavoured slurry. And the ploughman’s that firstly lacked cheese, and then after being sent back still lacked bread. Most of these things I’ve just left on the table and moved on.
I well remember some years back when I went out for a drive with my late father around the Shropshire Hills on the day after Boxing Day, and called in for lunch at the Green Dragon in Little Stretton (http://whatpub.com/pubs/SHR/4664/green-dragon-little-stretton). It was a sunny day, and I think there were a lot more customers than the pub expected, resulting in us having to wait a long time for our meals. My dad had plaice and chips, but was given a fish where the tail had obviously been hanging out of the pan and was completely raw. Some locals even had the cheek to say out loud “Some people only come out to complain!”
The ridiculously undercooked bacon in the Cock wasn’t an isolated example – the previous year I’d had similar in the Crown in Hawes in North Yorkshire, another good pub spoilt by crap food. Again I said after the event that the bacon was undercooked. The one example I recall when I did actually send something back was when staying in the Wellington Hotel in Boscastle, Cornwall, where I ordered a pizza from the bar menu that came out scarcely cooked at all. While the English are often accused of overcooking their food, most of my bad experiences have come from dishes that were seriously undercooked.
Tandleman has made the point in the past that you go out for a quiet drink and a meal, not for an argument. If you are given poor food or drink, the very act of complaining sours the occasion, even if you receive complete recompense. So it’s hardly surprising that people so often struggle through food that is at best borderline acceptable.
Maybe we need to take a more assertive approach. But I’d still say that returning food – as opposed to complaining about it afterwards – still requires another level of gumption above returning a poor pint.

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