Good Grief. Ok, I am going to share this tale with you. On the way back from Lincoln to Nottingham yesterday, I persuaded the husband to stop off at The Friendly Farmer on the A46 just before Newark. I say persuaded as he was rather sceptical about a cafe cum farm shop on a major roundabout next to a dual carriageway. But is was lunchtime and we were starving.
We parked up and things were not altogether promising. The whole prospect was slightly shabby. A group was sat smoking at a picnic table at the front of the shop right by the entrance (smoke away by all means, but it isn’t the best welcome for a non-smoker looking for lunch), the front doors are distinctly grubby and in need of a serious spruce up and a coat of paint.
Inside the large space is part cafe and then a sort of higgedly piggedly mix of farm shop and butcher. We walked up to the counter, which had an array of bain maries keeping food warm – rather along the lines of a school canteen – shepherds pie, chicken and mushroom pie, veg, gravy that sort of thing (and around £9 for a main dish). There was a blackboard of other options on the back wall and as we perused this, a chap (who apparently knew, or was, staff) pitched up ahead of us and began to order his food. Well, as we hadn’t made our minds up we didn’t object – but queue jumping? Don’t you realise this is England?? Anyway, he ordered pretty much everything from the bain marie counter, and it was stacked on the one plate. He started with Shepherds Pie (obviously with potato on top) and proceeded to add mashed potatoes and boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, and cabbage. It was the largest plate of food I think I have ever seen. Topped off with a huge ladle of gravy. Well at least the scale justified the price.
So, we came to order…. The blackboard advertised “Oven Baked Potatoes”. Being something of a cynic about these things and being very fussy about my baked potatoes, I thought I would check. So…
“Are they actually baked in an oven?“
“yes, oven baked”
“They are not microwaved?“
“Well, we oven bake them first, then we microwave them”
“Can I have the prawn salad then?”
“We have run out of prawns”
“Okaay, Can I have a hot sausage roll then?”
As she goes to grab a suasuage roll from behind a glass cover I notice that the sausage rolls share a space with some yoghurts, suggesting they are probably not hot.
“You are not going to microwave that are you?” I ask (and I ask because there is nothing worse than a microwaved soggy sausage roll, except possibly a microwaved “baked” potato)
“Er yes” she says.
“RIGHT, I won’t bother then“.
Husband has the sweet potato soup and I sit and watch him eat it.
I know these things happen, but honestly.To be fair the lady concerned was lovely and I actually felt a bit sorry for her, even though it was me who was by now rather faint from lack of food. Clearly feeling for me, and probably convinced I had some peculiar microwave phobia, she came over to the table and suggested I try a panini as “they are grilled not microwaved”. “I’ll have a toasted teacake” I said. She brought me one (if this had been my place I would have offered it on the house, but perhaps it wasn’t within her gift to do so). Unfortunately, I didn’t like it (way too much spice) and left half (hidden under my napkin so as not to give the poor woman a breakdown).
I did though purchase a Steak Pie to take home.
By the time we got home I was famished, and in a rush, so popped into my local Tesco Local to grab some Sushi. When I got home to eat it, it was out of date. Yep.
The post-script to this tale is that we had the pie for dinner. I was, understandably nervous, given my earlier experience and so got my apologies in first to the family. The pie took longer than I thought to heat through, and this is because it was absolutely stuffed with beef, delicious, succulent beef with delightful flaky pastry. Possibly one of the best steak pies I have ever eaten. So, the Friendly Farmer redeemed himself, just.