There is nothing worse than wandering around a small town when really hungry to find that there is nowhere to eat. Particularly if your wife is adverse to slumming it with food. This became a risk when the wife and I were in Ivinghoe, a beautiful small town in Hertfordshire full of idylic little cottages, village greens, victorian post boxes but unfortunately no McDonalds.
We headed to the most popular eatery in the town, the Rose and Crown, a nice pub in the centre of town. On entering the pub we were told that there was a private function that night and they will not be serving food to anyone else. Bugger, the only other place I saw in town was a tatty looking place down the road called “The Kings Arms”. Sounds perfect to me, they probably serve cheap burgers, nice beer and will be screening Sky football. I figured it was going to be harder to sell it to her though.
“Keep an open mind” I said, hoping she would be happy with a bowl of chips and a salad if her gluten free/free range/organic demands were going to get in the way of my hunger.
We approached the door and had a look at the menu.
Blimey they have starters and they look a bit pricey, I can’t even see a burger on the mains. What’s that? Quail? Foie Gras??
I slowly realised that this was no regular “pub” but a proper posh restaurant, I should have expected nothing less as this was a very expensive little town. I looked across at the wife who was already salivating with the prospect of eating hardly any really expensive food. She shot me a smug look, an eyebrow raise and the awful awful words;
“Keep an open mind dear”.
Bollocks. Twatted in the face by my own glib comment.
And so we entered and there was almost an immediate exoneration. We were looking a little scruffy and the “Garcon” didn’t like the look of us. Think of a French version of Manuel but with the contemptuous sneer that I have only otherwise seen on the face of that beardy scouse twat on the Great British Cake Show.
We did the usual “table for two please” and he immediately yelled that there was no space in the restaurant. For the first time in my life I felt like Julia Roberts. He just didn’t want us there, just like that hat shop did not want a high class hooker buying their stuff. I was tempted to make a scene, or at least drive to a chip shop and return and rub his face in it.
“Yeah, remember me? You wouldn’t serve me yesterday. Now look at me. Full of chips and battered sausage. I even bought a fish cake. BIG mistake. HUGE”
But just as this chap was about to swat us with a tea towel a very nice lady appeared and insisted that there was a table free and we could sit at that. Awesome. No getting out of this now.
Before that though we had to sit in some sort of holding area, with old seats, a bar and someone trying to force feed us foie gras. Oh the ironicalness. It was how I imagine purgatory would be, some bizzare area that we are to sit in and suffer while re reflect upon what we have done with our lives. I probably feel that way because it seems that no matter how many Michelin stars a place has it seems that no posh restaurant will ever go as far as to serve a beer that is no piss lager.
We were taken to our table and I immediately assessed the fork situation. I usually start with three but I know that these will change according to what I order in a strange ceremony that is not unlike the changing of the guards.
She orders some wine. I order a beer. My middle fork is replaced with a slightly prongier one.
We order some kind of set menu and as usual I am derisory of the portions I am predicting will come out. But I had not counted on the main event here. The “specialty” of this place was their duck. They cook a whole duck and it is to be shared between two. Challenge accepted. I can eat half (or more) of a duck. It is a pretty small bird.
So we chose the duck and my inner fork is replaced by another fork that looks suspiciously like the fork I had in the middle in the first place. We go through the courses that I can not remember too much about at this stage due to duck intoxication.
The duck was huge and I was having a really hard time eating it. Gemma was helping out as best as she could but I was determined not to let a posh restaurant beat me. I pride myself on returning plates to the waiting staff perfectly clean of food (hoping for a discount in the bill). Tonight wasn’t to be. I tried to replicate the suffering of those gooses that eat in a really nasty way for our pleasure but I was beaten by the small quacking animal.
But Gemma rescued the situation by asking whether we could take the remaining duck home with us. We could and the next day had a lovely duck broth thing. I got to fell like I beat it in the end even if it took two days.