We don't eat out that often; maybe once every couple of weeks. At this time of year a bit more.
The other night I decided at the last minute that we would go to a favourite nearby restaurant. I didn't book, as I considered it unnecessary.
When we arrived we were told that it was closed.
Not wanting to spoil my little surprise, I drove up to another restaurant where we hadn't eaten for years; it was now run by a Dutch couple.
Being the cook of the family, I know all the little tricks of the restaurant trade, and this place was full of them. The first indication was that I was told that my selection of 'Lamb shank in red wine sauce' would take an extra 20 mins (just the time it would take to heat-it-up in a hot water bath). I should have changed my choice there and then.
In fact the Lamb was quite pleasant, but Michel Guérard's vegetable supplier must have just visited, and it was served with a silly selection of half cooked, and unseasoned, colourful baby vegs. Lady Magnon wisely chose a small steak, which was accompanied by the same array of vegs.
We then ate a selection of cheeses which, frankly, wasn't even enough to feed a starving mouse. The fact that huge lorries were thundering past at just a few metres from our plates, didn't make the experience much better.
On the plus side, I'd ordered a good Pécharmant which was 'correct'.
Living in an area of renowned gastronomy, it seems to be getting rarer and rarer to eat well in local hostelries. Too many 'chefs' are jumping on too many bandwagons, and are producing poor imitations of TV chef's decorative nouvelle cuisine
fare. Even Michel Guérard himself would have turned up his nose at this place.
Good cooking is not about cutting corners, it's about the love of one's craft; and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of love about any more.
p.s. The staff were very attentive!
I always prefer a small menu of food cooked well (with love). As you say the extra 20 minutes should have rung bells.ReplyDelete
We rarely eat out as, generally, we both prefer the food I cook.Delete
Yes, bells were ringing, but foolishly I chose to ignore them. We shan't go again.Delete
When I think of French food, I think of the very high end of the market and at the lower end, really nicely prepared simple food. Btw, I heard the other day the McVities are being advertised in France with the slogan, 'They're English but they're good.ReplyDelete
I can assure you that eating out in the UK is a greater gastronomic experience than here. The UK has become a foodie's paradise over the past 20 years or more, whilst the standards here continue to fall. Very sad.Delete
Not around this part of the UK it isn't. The ghastly "gastro pub" flourishes, and in fact yesterday we went to one that has reinvented itself within the last two years and is enormously popular but the food is awful. No better than a supermarket ready meal and way over priced. I doubt that any of it is home cooked yet the punters were loving it. Maybe it's better than the ready meals they have at home.Delete
My home town is now Brighton, where you are really spoilt for choice. Almost every nationality is on offer, and the quality is superb.Delete
My world has become so small that I eat out only with little children, and so does the food looks.ReplyDelete
I've always enjoyed eating out with children; as long as they behave (ours usually do).Delete
We are spoiled having raised so much of our own meat we can barely stand restaurant fare and couple with that the fact that our daughter in law is a professional chef means we are rarely happy with eating out. BUT, there is a new restaurant about 15 miles away that says they use all locally grown produce and meat. We have no been there yet, but fingers crossed!ReplyDelete
I hope they are being honest. Almost every new restaurant says the same thing, along with the usual thing about 'seasonal vegs'.Delete
That's the reason we rarely eat out. (I remember it was an excellent place to eat about 18 years ago.)ReplyDelete
We had people last night, and everyone who'd eaten there said the same thing. I think they must rely on tourists and passing trade.Delete
Funny that you should say they would rely on tourists, we used to say that a fair number of places to eat in York were for 'passing trade' and if the visitors didn't go back no worries. Locals found their regular haunts.ReplyDelete
Yes, we have two regular haunts where we always eat really well, it just disappoints me that so many so-called chefs are setting up shop without really knowing their trade.Delete
That’s sad ..... eating in France was always reliable from the swanky to the more modest. One of our local pubs that was wonderful, a lovely, listed country pub, was taken over by someone in construction ...... they ruined the embiance , decorating it with bling and black table clothes ..... I think it’s just closed & yet another pub a few hundred yards away has a new manager and chef and, although it probably could do with a coat of paint, the menu is brilliant .... I’ve had skate twice and it was wonderful. XXXXReplyDelete
I'm sure there are still plenty of good places about, but looking back 40 or so years, you simply ate well everywhere. There was no such thing as a poor restaurant.Delete
Yes, sadly the chefs skills seem to be eroded and dumbed down by the corner-cutting, go-faster profit-driven world we now line in.ReplyDelete
Just like your old mechanic.
Why cook it yourself if you can buy it ready made in a vacuum pack, and all it needs is 20 mins in a hot water bath.Delete
Strangely perhaps that I find some of the freshest food is served at the truckers "greasy spoon" establishments, with the traditional fry-up of bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding, fried bread and tomato; none of which lend themselves to pre-cooking and re-warming.ReplyDelete
Usually served with bread & butter and a fresh pot of tea, a calorie and cholesterol disaster zone, but who doesn't enjoy one of these all-day breakfasts?
Quite right. The 'Routier' transport cafés here used to be very good, but they've mostly gone now.Delete
I must say Cro that the photos you put on of the meals you cook look absolutely ravishing - I can't imagine much living up to that standard when you go out. All your food looks fresh and inviting.ReplyDelete
PS And colourful with it.ReplyDelete
I do my best, Weave. I really enjoy my food, and always make an effort, even if it's just a mid-day salad.Delete
I agree with Weaver; your meals always look fresh and colorful and delicious, certainly as good as anything you could get in a restaurant and probably better most of the time.Delete
You do flatter so!Delete
I noticed the decline of French restaurants quite a few years ago. Everything is becoming standardised across Europe.ReplyDelete
The supermarket chain, Leclerc, usually has a restaurant, and they are always worth visiting for good tasty food at a very reasonable price. Sounds crazy, doesn't it.Delete
Sounds very French. I suppose IKEA does the same thing - their meatballs are quite tasty.Delete
We go out to dinner at least once a week. It is not so much for the food, although we have some good restaurants around here, but more for the company and getting out of the house. I agree with you though, that when we go to a restaurant that disappoints, we feel cheated. However, it is always a lesson learned.ReplyDelete
I felt cheated on Thursday. It wasn't hugely expensive, but I could have bought a week's shopping for for the price, including plenty of steak and some good wines.Delete
One of our local restaurants in France has a reputation for microwaving food which some people sneer at but in reality, it's all very good and on a cold wet winter's evening the place is open and you can always get a decent meal. I don't mind it being pre-prepared if it's good quality.ReplyDelete
Serving over priced poor quality food is what's unforgivable and where we live in the UK there's an awful lot of that. Really poor quality food, mass produced for the pub trade. Yet people seem to love it. Weird.
One of our nearby bakeries started buying frozen baguette shaped dough, and later baking it. The locals became so angry that they almost went bust. They soon changed their ways.Delete
Round our way, lots of French bars and restaurants have been sold to British hoping for the Good Life I guess. Many haven't done very well and closed down for good. Very sad to see.ReplyDelete