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Out to lunch [Mar. 14th, 2018|02:19 pm]

I was offline on Sunday and Monday, with a weekend guest and celebrating [personal profile] durham_rambler's birthday; and then not posting because of catching up with work. That's only a few days, but it feels like longer.

Weekend guest was D., who offered to drive us wherever we wanted for a celebratory birthday lunch. Easier said than done, when the birthday falls on a Monday off-season, and several of our choices were not open until mid-week. Eventually, after poking around the internet for a while, [personal profile] durham_rambler declared that he'd like to try Whitworth Hall: a country house hotel with a deer park, somewhere we hadn't been before, a little drive away but not too far, and in the right direction for J. to meet us there...

It's not Whitworth Hall's fault that Monday was gray and rainy. We didn't feel any urge to stroll in the parkland, and while we still admired the deer (as much as you can admire brown animals miling about in a sea of mud), we were happy to do so through a window. And the food was fine - we'd guessed from the website that it wouldn't be exciting, and it wasn't, but it was fine.

The service and atmosphere, though, were another matter. I'll go with "inept". From the moment we arrived, and told the young woman on reception that we had booked for lunch: "If you'd just like to go through to the Brasserie, straight through those double doors and - um, is is left? or right?" and she left her desk to go and look. The Brasserie was unattended, so we seated ourselves. The young waiter, who turned up bearing coffee for the only other customers, and attended to us thereafter, was friendly and charming as he brought us clipboards with menus - a different combination of pages for each of us, although only the two pages which, to be fair, we all had in common, were actually on offer. On offer, that is, up to a point: one of the starters turned out not to be available, and neither of the wines I selected (one bottle, one glass). D. asked for a pepper grinder: "Oh, I'm sure I can get some from the chefs..." and indeed, a tiny dish of ground pepper was produced. Inevitably, once dessert had been served and declared acceptable (and the desserts were probably the best part of the meal, and we agreed, cynically, that they had probably been bought in) all the staff vanished, and it took us a while to find someone who was prepared to bring us coffee in the bar. It was very good coffee, too (which you may interpret as it was strong enough to please me...

Yesterday evening, eating mezze with S. at a couldn't-be-more-different restaurant, she asked how our lunch had been. We told her it was as well she wasn't there, because she would certainly have lost her temper. Whereas we were mostly amused. I wasn't convinced by D's argument that they clearly didn't have much demand for lunch - after all, if they weren't open, they could simply have told us so. But it wouldn't have made such a good story.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.