My Route to Self-Expression

August 11, 2010

Has to Be Said…

Filed under: comment, Food — Tags: , , , — thebestbrew @ 12:45 pm

When food’s good, say it. When it’s not so good – well, we’re a bit too polite sometimes. So if I’m going to say something on a not so good experience – try to balance politeness with positive feedback – sounds fair enough?…..

I dined with daughter in The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar in St Andrews last night – a specialist fish restaurant (SFR)  and our first time sitting in as previously we’ve enjoyed the take-away side of the house.

Let’s be clear – the take away was very good. It takes time but that’s because it is cooked to order – if you want quick, generic fish and chips, avoid it – you’ll just complain about the delay because you probably don’t know any better. It is after all, a SFR – (Side note, the headline item on their wet-bar chalk board that day had been ‘Tuna Lions’ [sic] which didn’t give a great first impression).

However, back to the point – we decided to sit-in this SFR this time. Now, we’ve eaten in a number of places in St Andrews (mainly due to daughter being student in said lovely sea-side town) and had pretty much what we expected each time. So this time, much was expected and you know what they say about expectation…

The menu was short and to the point, augmented with a goodly list of specials – some of them looking a little pricey, but maybe that was a good sign, this was after all a SFR? There was a lot of ‘service’ buzzing about (there can afford to be in a student town in summer) so we made our selections, placed our order and started the catch-up chat in earnest.

Tiger prawns to start – ideal for sharing and a good complement to the fishy main – we hoped.

Well, disappointment #1.

They must have been frozen. Please, some deity or other, let the prawns have been frozen.

Although being provided with frozen prawns in a SFR could be considered NOT A GOOD THING, it would be even worse if said SFR served up a prawn, Tiger or otherwise, which had not been de-veined and which was coated in a slightly stale-tasting, thin, hard batter – for such was the prawn presented. Talking about money seems so vulgar but for me, however, £5.00 for 4 fresh, freshly cooked (maybe even tempura-battered?) Tiger prawns would have been OK – but for something I could buy out of Macro by the multi-kilo bag – not so much.

Being polite souls, we shrugged-off the prawns, in a manner of speaking, and looked forward to the mains. Well….

An assortment of treatments were available for your selected fish (battered, breaded, grilled), so keen to sample the fresh, crunchy batter of the sit-in side of the SFR, I chose – battered. Daughter chose grilled (ideal to appreciate the flavour of lemon sole).

Sole fillets arrived – good size, 2 off – great start. Then a breaded fish is put down in front of me. Hmmm…

“I’m sure I ordered battered”

‘Oh, shall I change it. We could do a battered fish as quickly as possible”

[Immediate considerations: 1. Sole is cooling by the moment 2. Fish cooking in batter will take as long as it takes – it can’t be hurried 3. I don’t – ever – make a fuss, which insisting on a change would be 4. Just get on with it, man, it’s still a yummy breaded SFR product]

“No, it’s OK, I’ll eat this, but could you check that I did order battered”

Despite internal dialogue to the contrary, I am re-assured that I am not suffering from a degenerative condition and that I did, indeed, order the battered variety of fish. So dig-in young man and enjoy your fish.

Disappointment #2. If that fish had not been sitting for a little while, I’m a monkeys uncle. I say that confident that no slight will be visited on my siblings off-spring. It was tough at the tail-end and up the thin edges. Edible but not excellent.

Disappointment #2.5 The sole had been sprinkled with (presumably) sea salt. This meant that if your mouthful happened to be one of the unlucky ones, your sole was too salty. Dodging between the crunchy salt chunks however, provided a very tasty example of nicely cooked, moist sole.

Well done #1. Plenty of service (I know that’s also about turning over covers quickly but I like plates cleared promptly).

Well done #2. Great chips and plenty of them between two.

Well done #3. Decent coffee.

Well done #4. Although we lingered and chatted a lot, people were able to get in and out quickly if they wanted to – which they did seem to.

Overall, we wouldn’t hurry back. In fact, with so much else on offer in the town we probably won’t sit in again. Our life-time customer value to that particular SFR is very low.

All the issues between the title of this post and this line distracted me so much that I didn’t give sustainability a thought – it should have been the first thing I considered, my bad. So I checked their website for information – worse than useless (as at this date anyway) is the best that can be said.

However. IF you plan to go there and have the chance to read this beforehand – ask about the produce, check how things will be done and don’t expect too much.

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