Dining out, like watching football, is completely different when you are writing about it in the paper.
I’ve done a bit of both and, apart from having to pay for it yourself, doing either is a much more relaxing experience when you leave the notebook and pen at home.
And there’s the rub.
Being handed the task of reviewing Sunday lunch at The Grapes in the lovely village of Croston (well, someone has to do it), we were a good way into the main course before the work thing hit me.
What had, up to that point, been a lazy summer’s afternoon, turned into a blind panic. No paper to scribble on and no menus still on the table to remind us just what we had ordered.
Fortunately our youngest daughter, bless her, had managed to capture images of our food on her iPhone and, like all young people, has a far sharper memory than her old man.
“I’ve got stuffed lamb, but what did it say it was stuffed with?” I pleaded. “And those chicken livers I’ve just eaten, what did it say on the menu they were cooked in?”
Asking to see the menu would have given the game away – our visit was meant to be incognito – so apologies to The Grapes if some of the food listed here seems a touch unfamiliar.
We’ve done our best to recall what was on our plates in all its deliciousness.
But if I do miss out the odd splash of Balsamic vinegar or drizzle of fancy dressing then you’ll have to forgive me.
The visit had started out so well.
A leisurely drink outside in the sunshine was perfect and the staff were so understanding even though we had an inside table reserved in their Stevenson’s Restaurant for 20 minutes earlier and the place was busy.
When the food mood took us I ordered my favourite chicken livers sautéed with garlic and chilli.
It came in a rich sauce and with slices of garlic bread to dip. At £5.95 it was to die for.
For mains I picked stuffed lamb shoulder although, in the absence of the specials menu even on-line, I couldn’t say what it was stuffed with.
Whatever it was, compliments to the chef. Absolutely delicious.
Mrs Ellis went for the three courses for £13.95 sheet. Her ham hock terrine starter was very meaty and so too was her main course, traditional Sunday roast beef and Yorkshire pud.
Miss Ellis chose crispy salmon goujons from the specials list and then picked what she later told me was pink roast rump of lamb with a cheddar and pea risotto. It was all consumed with a satisfied smile.
After all that Mrs E took possession of her third course, a good helping of sticky toffee pudding.
Mr E and Miss E were too full to join her on the dessert menu.
All the food for three of us came to just £54 – so that would have been £36 for two. Great value, great quality and a great visit all round.
Footnote: Oh the joys of social media. Having asked on Facebook if anyone knew what the stuffed lamb was stuffed with, I got this message from The Grapes itself: “Hi Brian. It was stuffed with mint, Rosemary, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, butter and breadcrumbs. So glad that you enjoyed it! Just finished cooking some more now...the kitchen smells amazing.”