In contrast to yesterday’s triumphant dessert, P and I went out for dinner tonight and had at best an average meal for a slightly above average price. ((Of course, we did the stupid English thing of saying ‘everything’s great, thanks’ when the waiter asked us how everything was, when we actually meant ‘no, the food’s overcooked, bland and I think I’d even rather have a McDonald’s’)) I mention price because an average meal for an average price, while still being a waste of time in my opinion, at least is predictable and reasonable.
I won’t mention the name of the restaurant we ate at (I really must get round to writing that post about why I don’t write bad reviews) but it was another disappointing meal in Reigate. In our household, ‘Reigate’ is now a pejorative adjective for food that achieves a level of blandness and lack of adventure. ‘Safe’ food, I guess, where the spices are kept to a minimum and things are comfortingly beige or meat cooked to leathery dryness. Extending that to life in general, it also describes a stultifying comfort that eschews adventure and external influence, preferring parochial smugness. And I say that as someone who quite likes Reigate! Jay Rayner actually thinks this is a Surrey problem, rather than just Reigate’s:
Perhaps it’s the Surrey effect. Blimey, but it’s an odd place. I don’t mean this as an insult to all the interesting, forward-thinking, lovely liberal people who live there. It’s all the other ones, the miserable sods who live surrounded by manicured lawns and carriage-drive garlanded houses, who drive four-by-fours and their nannies to distraction. The ones who have all that money and carefully calibrated taste, and yet for the life of them can’t support an interesting crop of restaurants.
Tonight’s restaurant, as with other places we’ve been to where we’ve been disappointed with the food, was absolutely packed, mainly by the second of the types of people Jay Rayner described above, meaning that it was highly likely that it was going to serve food that absolutely catered to that crowd. I’ve got no problem with restaurants being successful serving a clientele like that; I just don’t want to eat at them. It’s disappointing that P and I continue to struggle to find anywhere near us where we can go for a vaguely interesting meal that isn’t something I could easily cook at home, let along something I could actually cook better myself. The notable exception to this is Maxwell McKenzie but he doesn’t have a permanent base so it’s almost impossible to eat with him without a lot of notice.
Maybe we just live in the wrong county.
Post title lyric taken from Willy Mason – Where the Humans Eat