You have to visit this restaurant if only for the sake of nostalgia! Where in the world can you see Mateus Rose alongside Blue Nun Liebfraumilch on a wine list? And Bulls Blood too! It was commonplace when I was a youngster, but I didn't realise that you can even still buy those classics from the '70's! Come to think of it, when did you last see a wine list that didn't have a single new-world wine on it?
The decor could have come straight from the set of that classic British TV series Life on Mars, and as I deliberated over my Chicken Jalfrezi, I half expected Philip Glenister to pull up outside in a classic Ford Cortina. There was even a lava lamp on the counter, and outside the toilets one of those big old fashioned metal ashtrays that you used to see, well, just about everywhere. Around forty years ago, that is!
Service was good, but it really did have a Fawlty Towers feel; the owner trying to manage about twenty diners with one young and very enthusiastic but clearly inexperienced waiter. The combination of this duo was exaggerated further by a porch door that simply didn't want to close - every visitor would struggle with the door until the owner or his assistant came bounding to the rescue and applied a knowing prod in the right place. This became quite an amusement to some of us diners and the unwitting victims of the jinxed door!
Sadly the food wasn't the highlight of our visit. It wasn't good, but clearly with about twenty diners present and four take-away collections made while we were there, it must have been an unlucky experience. Or perhaps everyone was there for the nostalgia; I didn't enquire. We were a party of three, and all agreed that if we returned it would be for the Mateus Rose or Bulls Blood or just the nostalgia rather than for the culinary experience. Two of us had chicken, which was incredibly salty. When asked by the owner if the food was ok, I proffered that the chicken was actually a bit salty, to which he enthusiastically agreed, going on to explain in a very amiable manner how it was a different supplier!
I probably will go back again. It won't be for the high class food; there's a couple of really fine Indian restaurants nearby who are quite possibly good enough to win awards. When I go back, it'll be to reminisce my student days, the feel of the '70's, and for an experience that'll last much longer in my memory than a better (and much more expensive) Jalfrezi around the corner in either of the posh modern restaurants!
Basil, meet Gene. Blue Nun anyone?
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