I guess we’ve all done it at some time. You're in a restaurant having a nice glass of wine or a gin and tonic, waiting for your food to come. It's taking ages but you console yourself with the thought that it should be worth the wait. Eventually, the meal arrives on a plate the size of a dustbin lid, the artfully arranged tower of chunks teetering in a shower of green dandruff (sorry, would that be herbs?) drizzled with jus and presented with a flourish. So far so good. A feast for the eyes. But how does it taste?
To be honest, it’s usually disappointing isn’t it? The build-up has led you to expect some sort of gourmet masterpiece, the massive size of the plate hints at culinary grandeur beyond your wildest dreams, and the price? Well let’s say you expected Gordon Effing Ramsay himself for that kind of money. But in reality it’s just reasonably OK food stacked up to look trendy and squirted with some brown stuff out of a squeezy bottle. Not exactly ”muck on a truck” but nothing special. Let’s face it, you have, in fact, been conned by an over-effusive description on the menu and the candle-lit gastro-pub decor. Better order another seventy-five quid bottle of wine to cheer yourself up.
So over comes the waiter and asks if everything’s alright with your meal and you of course just nod, your mouth being full of food at the time. His timing is immaculate but it doesn’t really matter if you say anything or not, the question is purely academic. No one ever complains here. When the bill eventually arrives you reflect that a family of four could be fed for a week on that amount of money and still have enough left over for a fish and chip supper. But not in this restaurant, obviously.
Compare and contrast, my fellow gourmands, with what we expect from a different type of eating experience – the “Sunday Lunch £8.99” offered at most pubs throughout the land. Are the potatoes properly roasted or merely deep fried? Has the meat been freshly carved, or pre-sliced and stuck under a hot lamp? Are the Yorkshire puddings soggy? Answer yes to any or all of the above and what do we do – we complain! After all it is nearly nine quid when all is said and done!
There seems to be a rather strange sliding scale of complaint to cost ratio going on here. My dear old Dad used to call it “The Emperor’s Suit of Clothes Syndrome” and you know what, I think he may have been right – the fancier the restaurant, the more intimidated we feel and the less likely we are to show ourselves up by questioning the quality of what we’re eating. But down at the pub for a bit of Sunday dinner? It had better be as good as we get at home, or else!