Disappointment covered in squirty cream. Bimbling foodies, the first failure.

I’m a little saddened as I write this. Not major Robin-Williams-is-dead sad, just I-wanted-that-cake-and-that-fat-woman-who-doesn’t-need-any-more-cake-took-it sad. We had a mildly unsuccessful meal, and I feel a little like it was my fault.

This months meeting of the Bimbling Foodies took us to my choice, in Tonbridge. In the shadow of a crumbling castle, out restaurant -come- hotel stared onto the main street like a belligerent old horse, refusing to move away from the noise and hustle. We were seated quickly, which wad good, in a corner, with soft leather seats. Staring around at our 11th century surroundings, we were greeted with the smell of fresh paint and well cared for leather, which Yvonne was overjoyed with. Our waitress for the evening was pleasant and friendly, although a little too desperate to please, and sadly, that’s where the good ends. We ordered our food, Yve having a pasta type dish, Cara on the baked Salmon, Jane with steak and Ale pie, Chania with beer battered cod and chunky chips and me with sirloin steak, medium well done, with field mushrooms and sautéed potatoes. When it eventually arrived, the fish first, notorious for going cold fast, then the pasta and pie, then the vegetables and finally mine.

Janes ‘pie’ was a sandwich. Some over gravy’d steak in a puff pasty sandwich. The cod was dry and flaky, showing a lack of freshness. Yvonnes meal was tiny for what it cost. And finally, the steak that wasn’t beef. We still can’t work out what it was, but it certainly wasn’t beef, even Yve couldn’t identify it. And it was rare, tough and tasteless. The only success on my plate was the potatoes. Apparently the salmon was fine, but, in fairness, it’s very hard to bugger up salmon.

About 5 minutes into eating, one of the guys who had brought out the dishes wandered over, and in the most brusque fashion I’ve heard outside a disagreement said in a heavy accent “everything alright?” We mumbled vague assurances and he ambled off. Another 5-10 minutes later and the girl who showed us in came and asked how it was, it was a lot more genuine than the first guy, but still an unnecessary distraction from an already disappointing meal. So, I suppose we should be grateful.

We decided to give them another chance on the dessert, mainly because they had chocolate brownies with honeycomb ice cream and caramel sauce, and Eton mess. So, three orders of brownies and two Eton mess’ later, we were mildly disappointed again.

The ‘caramel sauce’ with the brownies was a smear of caramel across the bottom of the plate, and apparently (I didn’t try it) the ice cream had ice crystals, meaning it’s thawed and been refrozen. The Eton mess showed up in a tall glass, with whole strawberry quarters, broken meringue nests, and, horror of horror, squirty cream. Not impressed.

A cigarette break was had in the middle, and I spotted that the pigeon net, stretched over the outer statue was full of pigeons, so not very effective. The paint worn and chipped, the menu board outside scratched and wonky. Sadly, the place has been bought by a large chain, and has suffered for it.

For the expense and time, I have to say, really not very impressed, the girl helping us seemed to be really trying, although a little miffed at working a Tuesday, so I’ll give them credit for somehow managing to keep her aboard their sinking ship. But I think she will either have to learn to swim, or jump onto any passing land, before it drags her down with it.

I’d like to think they were having a bad day, Tuesday is never a good day for restaurants, but to gain and keep customers, every day must be as good as the last.

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