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Monday, 1 November 2010

Yes, I did send a letter complaining, I just had to :P

I had to send the letter, I just had to

Dear sir/madam

I am not normally given to complain about restaurants, normally preferring to simply avoid them when they are poor and advise friends and family to avoid them (or to recommend them to people I don’t like very much).

In this case I have to make an exception – partially because I have no enemies I loathe sufficiently to inflict your establishment on (and I if I did, I am sure I would be subject to UN resolutions condemning me for such cruelty) and partly because I am almost impressed at how awful your restaurant is. In a way, this is a letter of congratulations, because I am truly in awe at the depths you plumbed.

To begin – the evening took place in a large pavilion. While I realise that, by the quality of the meal, you kitchen staff may regularly indulge in potent hallucinogens and may actually believe it was a balmy night on a Caribbean island or even a warm, bright August noon. Sadly, neither was true. It was late October, it was after 8:00pm, it was in Yorkshire and it most certainly was freezing.

You must have been grossly disappointed that, despite your best efforts, none of your guests succumbed to hypothermia in your unheated, amateur wind-tunnel (I would call it drafty, but I think winds of that strength are less “drafts” and more “severe weather warnings”) as I’m sure harvesting their bodies for meat would have provided a much cheaper option and would likely be far tastier than the charcoal briquettes and shoe leather you are currently using.

Which brings us to what, for want of a better word, I will refer to the food.

In the past I have gone to restaurants and thought “I could cook a better meal than this” however you have the dubious honour of being the first establishment that made me think my cat could do a better job. I would criticise your chef, but I feel that even implying the drunken baboon you have chained in the kitchen is in any way a chef would be the worst possible insult to the culinary profession.

The starter instilled us with a false sense of hope, for though it was appalling, it did not adequately warn us as to how bad things would get – clearly you were luring us in and unwilling to send us screaming into the night so early in the evening. My husband had a soup so thin and so heavily chilled that it was impossible to tell the difference between it and a bowl of ice water. We, rather charitably put this down to the distance between the kitchen and the pavillion (tell me, did you employ an architect to calculate the furthers possibly point from the kitchen before setting up the tent, or was that just luck?)

I had what was alleged to be garlic mushrooms. I do not know, not having the chance to actually eat one since my fork was unable to penetrate through the nigh miraculously impervious batter each was coated in. I wonder if you’d consider a military contract? This could be the armour of the future. You should still find some of them in the corners of the tent where they bounced after my cutlery rebounded.

But the star was truly the roast dinner that was presented as the main course.

I am going to generously take your word for it that the meat was beef (because nothing short of a forensic examination would acertain what meat that sad lump was) and I further applaud you for honouring poor Ermintrude’s last wish and ensuring her body was cremated. What food group does ash fall into anyway?

I also must compliment your courage. This is Yorkshire. Yorkshire, home of the Yorkshire pudding. And you dared to attach that name to the solid hunks of batter you served us? They didn’t cut, they shattered into a thousand brittle shards. They should have come with a warning and eye protection. Even now, the unquiet ghosts of generations of grandmothers are seeking you out for this dreadful sin – I suggest investing in a priest or at least some Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings to appease them.

And the vegetables? I didn’t even try to eat them, though the smell emanating from them suggested someone already had. Were these grown in a garden or extracted from Ermintrude’s stomach post-mortem? We have a compost heap at home, I can honestly say I’d rather tuck into that mass of rotting vegetation than lay so much as a fork on the stinking mass of unidentifiable greenery

But a prize has to go to the gravy. I still wake up at night thinking of that gravy, shaking and weeping inconsolably. It was cold, it was congealed, it was seperating into various sickly shaded liquids that, thankfully, the low lighting prevented me from seeing in any great detail. Great claggy lumps lurked within its depths and a new species struggled and fought to survive – it wanted to live, but how could such an abomination be allowed to survive? Truly, it was Mary Shelley’s opus interpreted through beef stock.

After this horror, the dessert was positively anti-climactic. While it was grossly unappetising, I did at least feel that none of my food regarded me with an alien malice – which was a definite improvement.

The crème brulee has clearly never seen any source of heat (how was that achieved in the kitchen that must have been one great furnace to so thoroughly incinerate the beef?) I have had crème brulees that haven’t set and ones where the sugar on top didn’t not crunch delightfully. I don’t believe either was even attempted with this confection – the sugar was still in grains and just floating in milk. Yes, milk – the only thing that would set that was a freezer (which, I suppose, given the ambient temperature was not out of the question).

My husband’s chocolate mousse was so desiccated that it actually sucked in all moisture from the atmosphere. We could ship it to flood areas to counter the rampaging waters. I cannot even begin to imagine how one makes a dry mousse, but I am positive the environment agency will appreciate the recipe.

One thing I will not criticise is the wait staff, they really did a miraculous job in horrendous circumstances. Yes, food was heavily delayed, arrived poorly presented and was stone cold – but given the low light levels, the temperature and the distance from the kitchen the only way they could have competently served us would be if you replaced your entire work force with Inuit long distance runners wearing night vision goggles. I applaud them for not stalking out in outrage and disgust half way through the meal when they realised they conditions they were required to work under.

My dear aged grandmother once told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice about something I should not speak at all. So I have been searching my brains for something even vaguely positive to say about your establishment and have decided to thank you for the entertainment

Not, I hasten to add, that you provided anything so conventionally entertaining as music or a band or any such. But I have rarely been treated to a meal that had all the tension, the fearful anticipation and energising terror not normally found outside of a haunted house, horror film or roller-coaster.. In fact, so powerful was the sense of dread that greeted the thought of the next course that I would advise you to place a health warning at each table – except it would be too dark to read it and, really, keeling over from a heart attack before the next dish is plated up would probably be a moment of blessed relief.

I would sign off hoping that you would give my concerns the care and attention they deserve, but I almost wish you wouldn’t. I feel your establishment is somewhat a work of performance art, and it would be a shame for something so truly unique – albeit uniquely awful – to be changed.