This week I have been mainly moaning about the standard of food when I dine out or should I say the lack of standards. Now at the risk of sounding like I am nit picking is it really so difficult to wash a knife and fork?  When dining out I would expect a few basic things to be a given and these are: a. clean cutlery, b. a clean table, c. a clean plate and d. food that is edible.  However, my recent dining experiences have shown that clean cutlery and indeed plates are an optional extra at many dining establishments.

I dined at three establishments that all had good reviews and I found that they left a lot to be desired, clean cutlery being a feature of all. It just goes to show that sometimes you can’t rely upon the views and ratings expressed through sites such as trip advisor and trivago.

So hear is this weeks round up of dining out experiences.

The Pen-y-Bryn , Pen-Y-Bryn Road, Colwyn Bay LL29 6DD. This pub is described as, ‘a characterful gastropub with open-fire and vintage decor, plus sweeping sea views from the garden’. It sounds delightful and indeed it is a nicely situated pub, that offers a spacious layout and tasteful décor.

The menu looked promising and the reviews I had read online all described a good gastronomic experience. However, we were delivered cutlery that included a dirty knives  and a mangled fork that looked like it had been involved in an unfortunate encounter with  Uri Geller’s apprentice. It took three attempts for the waitress to source clean cutlery and she was unable to provide forks that were not bent up. We settled for clean cutlery with bent prongs and looked forward to our meals arriving.

I won’t bore you with the wait  times etc., let’s just say the food wasn’t worth the wait. I ordered the butternut squash, borlotti bean and aubergine lasagne priced at £12.45;  what arrived was a small round dish that contained an overcooked mush in a overly sweet tomato based sauce. It was so overcooked and unpleasant that it had to be sent back. I opted for a  vegetarian version of their Ploughmans Lunch which on this occasion sadly lacked a pickled onion and was really just a glorified cheese board, but at least it was edible. The other meals a rump steak sandwich and Glamorgan fritters with a green salad were all acceptable, but nothing to write home about. The small chain Brunning Price perhaps want to be careful that they don’t slip into the sloppy habits of some of the bigger chains, especially when it comes to ensuring that cutlery is clean and tables are cleared promptly.


Starling Cloud, Aberystwyth  – Well, this is a chain pub owned by Marstons, so I wasn’t expecting fine dining, however, clean cutlery and a clean table were definitely an expectation. I visited on Sunday and it wasn’t overly busy, however, it seems that the kitchen were unable to cope. The cutlery supplied was dirty, the starters and mains all arrived at the same time and the tables were all sticky, however, these were the minor issues as they don’t come anywhere near the issues that were presented in the format of non-edible food. As far as I recall a menu is supposed to be something you order off when hungry and that generally you get the food you order, however, it seems that in The Starling Cloud there is a special code, for example, ‘cauliflower tart’ translates as ‘’soggy pastry wrapped around a tasteless filling, lovingly nuked in microwave to an inedible state’. The trick when dining here is to translate the code language used on the menu so you are prepared for what will arrive on your dinner plate. Hand-carved ham and eggs for example translates as rubbery eggs served with shoe leather ham whilst a salad containing halloumi cheese translates as , ‘hunt the halloumi cheese and when you do find it, it will be so over cooked it is inedible, but do enjoy your £8.95 worth of lettuce leaves’’.

Don’t expect to get any questions answered here or to get any joy out of complaining, because sadly they take the line of ‘’we’ve never had any complaints about that dish before’’ and will offer you a complimentary drink or pudding.



The Hive – Aberystwyth – a bustling restaurant that is known for it’s home made ice cream. I must say that they have a cracking gin list and the service is lively and attentive. I’ve eaten here before and it was very good, so around twelve months on I thought it would be good to return, sadly it wasn’t up to its usual standard.

Again we were presented with dirty cutlery…I am beginning to think there is a national pot washing strike going on.

Food wise, I was frankly underwhelmed. At the risk of being a moaning Minnie I dine out to enjoy a meal, not come out feeling I could have cooked better at home on a cupboard clear out day. The vegetable and goats cheese lasagne was overcooked and the pasta was palpy as a result. There wasn’t much of it which was fortunate really as the taste was pretty unremarkable.

I left feeling a little saddened that the meal was inferior to the last time I visited and that I had a weekend of dirty cutlery being a recurrent theme.

It seems that in this modern age where we are fond of terming ourselves ‘foodies’;  dining standards are in decline. I would love to return to an age where pointless salad garnishes are banned. I would dearly love to see ‘gourmet’ burgers in brioche buns retired and to see pubs return to offering good, honest pub grub and for menu’s to start offering well cooked staples instead of microwaved odds and ends with a balsamic glaze and soggy salad garnish. I’m tempted to start a campaign to bring back food in dining establishments with the slogan, ‘’bring your own cutlery’’.



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