Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about food expectations. Now, in one sense low expectations are always going to work in your (and a restaurant’s) favour, because if you go into a place and you think it’s going to be terrible but it turns out to me more or less OK, then you tend to think you’ve come out ahead; although this obviously doesn’t seem to be a reasonable way to go through the world.
I was once taken, by my ex father in law, to the Ritz (with others), and many things were wonderful – the room, the view, the service, the plates and cutlery – but the food was ordinary. Was I disappointed? Yes. Had I expected too much? Possibly.
But last weekend I was in Bristol, not on a foodie jaunt and I wasn’t expecting anything at all, and so on Friday night we ended up in a quasi-railway-themed pub called The Sidings, down by the station. This is from the website, the gal on the left actually served me!
We were hungry and weary, we couldn’t be arsed to go roaming the streets looking for food, and so we ordered the Heidi Pizza from the bar – tomato, olives, pesto, goat cheese and it was really quite good, by which I suppose I mean surprisingly good. It exceeded expectations. Had it been served to me at the Ritz I might I have been disappointed; but it wasn’t, so I wasn’t. It looked like this:
And then on Saturday afternoon, while out on a psychogeographical drift, we ended up in a pub called the Lodekka – which is the name of a kind of a kind of Bristol bus, apparently. The pub was part of the Hungry Horse chain, owned by Greene King, but horse was not on the menu. I mean it would have been amazing if it had been, but I hadn’t expected it so I wasn’t disappointed.
The place was full of children in the throes of sugar-rushes, and also rugby fans watching the game on a big screen. We ordered the miscellaneous fried fish platter, and it took a while to arrive, but when it came it wasn’t bad at all and way better than expected. It looked like this:
There’s all kinds of stuff in there; fish and chips, a fishcake, battered sausages, and even battered pickles, thus:
And then back in London on Sunday night, and eating in central London on a Sunday night can be a real disappointment, so we ended up in Dirty Dicks (no apostrophe) in Bishopsgate – a decent enough historic pub.
We weren’t even expecting to eat there, but we looked at the menu and it didn’t seem bad so we ordered one of the sharing boards’, Sussex Charmer Cheese, Suffolk chorizo, pork pie, sliced sausage roll with all the trimmings; pickled onions, chutney etc. It was really good. But - and here’s the thing - it wasn’t just better than expected – it was better than it needed to be.
This may not be the absolute benchmark of a decent restaurant, but it’s a damn good start.