Welsh Witterings: Dining Out Drama
Lately I have done my fair share of complaining about my recent dining out experiences being disappointing rather than delightful. Sadly last weekend was no different and yet again I was left with the question, ‘what was the point of that?’ Yes, my last four dining experiences have been the usual anti-climax and I am once again wondering, where did all the good food go?
Dining out at a restaurant should be a culinary treat. The idea of dining out is surely that you sit in nice surroundings, have food expertly cooked for you and sit back and enjoy good food, good service and relish in the delight of not having to cook or wash up. So many of my recent dining out experiences have been approached with eager anticipation and have resulted in a feeling of anti-climax afterwards. Was it worth the effort? I should have stayed at home and cooked and why can’t a restaurant cook a simple meal? Are all discussions that I have had following a string of meals out that range from at best to bland through to unacceptably diabolical.
I have in the past six months stayed at a hotel where the bedroom ceiling fell in on me and they just changed the room and said ‘yes, we thought that might happen one day’ and proceeded to charge me full price and additional money for a room upgrade; I’m only surprised they didn’t charge me extra for the pet hairs they served up in my evening meal. I have been served copious amounts of slimy pasta with tasteless sauces and have had my fair share of chewy ravioli, goopy risotto; freshly prepared meals straight from the microwave and greasy, tasteless messes . In the past six months I have been served meals that are inedible, undercooked, overcooked, damn right disgusting and foul. I’ve been given more dirty cutlery than I care to recount and the service I have received has varied vastly in standards of disregard.
Eating out was something I used to look forward to, but alas the disappointment is becoming a little much to bear. I don’t want to pay for another meal, just to leave the restaurant feeling hungry, disgruntled or else wondering when Pedigree Chum purchased a large percentage of dining establishments. Last night was the final straw. After a spot of Christmas shopping, the hungry bug began to bite and I yet again fell into the trap of dining out. Admittedly the place I chose to dine was an Italian chain, but as an early evening meal stop this seemed like a sensible option and it was, My spinach and ricotta ravioli was a little on the tough side, but had flavour and was edible, my husbands dish was by no means exceptional, but it was acceptable and perfectly edible. The restaurant delivered what it promised, edible food at a reasonable price. It was a chain, I did not expect fine dining, so I had no complaints about this meal and the service was good. So you may be wondering, why this meal was the final straw? Well, the evening before I had dined at an establishment that was advertised as being an authentic, family run Italian restaurant. The meal cost twice the price of the chain Italian I dined at the following evening and it was not even half the meal. Bland and tasteless pasta was the days special and I was left thinking that a 1980’s Lean Cuisine pasta dish may have been more exciting to the taste buds. The service was friendly enough, but the breadsticks were sadly the most exciting part of the meal from a culinary stance. Slimy pasta, overcooked pasta met undercooked and bland mushrooms in a thin, tasteless cream sauce. This was not the dish I ordered, but it was the dish I got and my husbands dish looked like some revolting, retro spaghetti Bolognese from a tin or more accurately a dogs dinner and apparently it tasted as bad as it looked. The meals were awful and as is so often the case when I complained, I was met with defensive contempt.
So, armed with my fair share of disastrous meals and a good understanding of how bad dining out can be, I think it’s time to write a guide to dining out as a vegetarian. The aim of the guide will be to tell it like it is and provide an accurate description of the dining venues I visit. I hope it was be a gastronomic book or doom and gloom, I do hope to be including details of culinary delights and exceptional service alongside those culinary disaster like the pasta with the ‘accidental’ butterscotch sauce I was served at a privately owned hotel restaurant.
Well, today I shall give my digestion a rest and cook a nice meal at home as I begin to plan my guide to dining out as a vegetarian.