Wednesday 6 May 2009

Lost in translation

From time to time I have had snacks or meals in pubs that gave the impression they had been prepared by people who had got the recipe via a garbled phone message translated from a foreign language, and had never actually experienced the dish in question.

Yesterday I ordered a Cheeseburger in a Good Beer Guide listed pub that shall remain nameless. OK, I know it’s not haute cuisine, but I fancied a hot snack and that was the best option on the menu. What I received was an open, cold buttered roll, with a dry Westlers-type burger on it, covered with a heap of grated cheese. Nothing remotely like any real-life cheeseburger I have ever encountered – have they never actually crossed the threshold of McDonald’s or Burger King? I would have been better (and more cheaply) fed with a McD’s Extra Value Quarter Pounder.

Similarly, a few years back, at what was supposedly a smart hotel, I ordered a chicken tikka baguette as a bar snack. I expected it to contain some tender, succulent pieces of chicken tikka, but in fact the contents were an unpleasant slurry of generic curry. It was utterly inedible. Likewise the “steak barm cake” which, instead of containing a thin slice of grilled steak, had pieces of the kind of steak you might find in a steak pie, complete with gravy.

And on two occasions – once in the now-closed Setter Dog on the Cat & Fiddle road – I have ordered a “chicken curry” only to be served with something seemingly out of a 1950s recipe book that was so bland and creamy that it would make the average Korma seem fiery, not to mention containing unpalatable, rubbery chunks of chicken.

I have no expectations of fine dining in ordinary pubs, but the people who put together the menus really should take a reality check.


  1. Pubs for drinking,caffs for eating. They banned smoking in pubs when the real stinko was food...stupid burks !

  2. You wanna get down the Spoons for the beer and burger, mate. The lamb one isn't shabby.

  3. This was a very long way from the nearest Spoons - but the pub itself sounded appealing from the GBG description and, if you discount the odd food, it was pleasant enough.

  4. I would have refused to pay for it, just like would for a beer that was not fit to drink. You would be helping keep the pub open if you did not pay for it. Pubs need to give people what they want and not some rendition of what passes as acceptable in a prison.

  5. I am a bit fussy with food, and so I don't tend to send things back if they don't accord with my expectations, only if they're obviously wrong in terms of being underdone, burnt, gristly etc. Also, given time constraints, it often makes sense to make the best of a bad job rather than return it and try to find somewhere else, especially when there's no nearby alternative.

  6. I hope you, at least, complained bitterly :)


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