Number 37 on my List Of Things To Do Before I’m 30 is to eat in a restaurant on my own. It sounds like a bit of a weird thing, but when I was younger I always used to think that people who did that were a bit of a loner. Now, my opinion’s changed and I don’t see the problem with it. I think it takes quite a bit of courage to eat out, visit the cinema, etc on your own since there will always be judgemental people, like I used to be, thinking that you have no friends if you sit on your own.
I had the opportunity to go to my local Wetherspoons, the Fox on the Hill, to do a mystery dine, and I thought I’d do it this afternoon to take a bit of a break from work. I went on my own since my friends were all out at uni and thought it would be a good stepping stone to the world of eating alone, since I feel a pub is a slightly less intimidating place to eat on your own as people come and go, and generally do their own thing. I’d been to this pub a few times before in the past, with my mum, and my friends, and each time I’ve received mixed service and mixed food standards. I never really have that high expectations of Wetherspoons since I knew someone who worked there who said that they basically microwaved everything, but I’m not too sure how true that is. But nonetheless, it is pretty cheap and they do a pretty wide range of food!
The pub wasn’t that busy considering it was lunchtime, and I found a spot in one of their booths and made myself comfortable. Since it was Friday, I decided to go for their Fish Friday deal which cost £5.09 for fish and chips and a soft drink. I also debated over onion rings or garlic bread, and opted for the garlic bread at £2.19 since I’d never tried the Wetherspoons ones before. The guy who served me at the bar was a chirpy guy, who was a lot friendlier than any of the other people that have ever served me at that Wetherspoons! Within about 10 minutes, my food was served (which was pretty speedy, so it does make me think whether they do microwave all their food).
I wasn’t expecting too much from my fish and chips as sometimes you get a meager bit of fish covered in really greasy batter. However, this piece of fish exceeded my expectations and was pretty big! I find that the best part of fish and chips is the batter. I’d be pretty happy if all they had was batter on the menu! I tend to scoop out the fish and eat it first, before eating the batter (weird I know…) and this way I saw that there was a pretty decent amount of flaky fish inside which was good! The batter was lovely and crisp too and the menu said that the fish was “freshly battered”. I chose peas over mushy peas and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked them since a lot of the time peas can be overcooked and take that lovely shade of slime green (a bit like my old primary school lunches…). But these peas were bright green and tasty. The chips were…well chips. I got a standard amount and they filled me up quite well.
I also got two slices of garlic bread which were a bit disappointing. Definitely the worst part of the meal. At first I was quite optimistic since the slices were rather large, but the bread was pretty hard in places, it was quite chewy, and I could barely taste the garlic-ness of the garlic bread, so I left most of it.
I had also ordered a carrot cake for dessert and went up to the bar to collect it. This time, a lady served me, who seemed in quite a bad mood, and gave me the typical grumpy Wetherspoons service that I was expecting! It cost £1.99, or £2.49 with a large filter coffee, tea, or other small coffee. The size of the cake was pretty average and it tasted quite nice and moist. I wasn’t a big fan of the nuts on the top, but that’s just personal preference.
Previous times that I’ve visited this pub, I’ve had the original gourmet 6oz beef burger that has bacon and Stilton, Shropshire blue and spring onion sauce, chips, six onion rings, and a soft drink for £5.89. I’d say that it is pretty tasty, although the standard has varied each time I’ve had it. One time, my onion rings were so burnt that they were as crunchy as crisps. They did do me another batch though, which was appreciated. I’ve also had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich with chips, onion rings, and a soft drink, also for £5.89. It sounds rather appetising, although when it did come I was a bit disappointed as the burger itself looked pretty pathetic and anorexic. It was literally bits of pork slopped inside a bun. The pork did taste quite nice though, but the lack of filling in general let it down. I’m also not a big fan of the wooden boards that they serve the gourmet burgers on. They may look all decorative and give a rustic and more upmarket feel, but it’s really hard to keep everything on it and it ends up being quite messy!
On the whole, Wetherspoons is pretty cheap with a good range of food, but the food standards and service do vary. It’s one of those pubs that I would return to, but wouldn’t be my first choice of places to visit if I was to eat out. As for eating in a restaurant on my own…doing it at Wetherspoons was fine as everyone tends to keep to themselves, but I can’t see myself having the courage to dine alone in a more upmarket restaurant just yet!