As much as I loved the food in England, we did have a couple less than stellar meals. At the top of the list is a UK chain restaurant called Little Chef. Little Chef is best described as the UK cousin to the American Waffle House. Little Chef aims to be more like Denny's than a Waffle House (not that Denny's is so much better) with it's menu offerings, but don't be fooled, this place is severely lacking in quality. If you dine at Little Chef, order something simple.
We had dinner at the Sutton-Scotney Little Chef with the kids after a long day of fun by the seaside. We were all tired and very hungry.
You should always follow your gut, especially when you're feeding it. I overrode my instinct telling me to stick with a breakfast entree and tried to order the lasagna. I was told that the lasagna was no longer available due to the horse meat problem.
The whole horse meat issue was all over the news in America prior to our trip, but this was the first and only time that I encountered an issue while dining in the UK. My first thought on the whole issue, is who cares? I mean, I care that food should be properly labeled and people should be consuming what they think they're consuming. However, I eat cows, pigs and other assorted barnyard animals, so I really don't see what the big deal is regarding horses.
In any case, I was denied the lasagna, so I ordered the horse-free steak and mushroom pie.
It said steak and mushroom pie on the menu, but this was a clear case of mystery meat. If it was beef, it was low, low quality covered up with a generous serving of brown gravy. It was very icky.
I'm positive that I would have been happier with the horse- meat lasagna.
I've experienced Little Chef and once was more than enough.
On my second evening in England, I had the best fish n' chips that I have ever eaten. I'm not generally a fan of the meal. Why would you take a perfectly delicious piece of fish and ruin it with batter and grease? However, I knew coming to the UK, that this would be something that I would need to try and perhaps reevaluate my stance.
For one of our lunches, we went to a shop in Newbury for take-away fish n' chips. This was one of Dan's favorite local places and I was excited to try it.
The fish n' chips came wrapped in white butcher paper that was already spotted with grease escaping from inside of the package.
The piece of fried cod was as long as my forearm!
Let me repeat...it was as long as my forearm and was sitting on a bed of thick cut fries. All of this was just for me. I felt like I had been unwittingly entered a competitive eating competition. It was daunting.
I was quickly defeated.
The first few bites were a very good combination of salt, greasy and vinegar. However, quickly the grease coated my mouth and it was all that I could taste. If you really love fish n'chips, you probably would have loved the meal. It was pricy, but I am pretty sure that we got an entire fish each.
The pictures do not do justice to the size of the meal. If this was in America, they probably would have had an offer that if you can eat the whole thing in five minutes, it's free and you get your name on the wall.
I am looping this last review in with the bunch, not because I disliked my meal, but because we actually had Chinese food that was not associated with fish n' chips. Just around the corner from where we were staying, a very short walk, was China Garden.
China Garden was very good and reminded me of something that we would have locally back home. In fact, I am fairly certain that we have a Chinese restaurant called China Garden in Glendale!
The pork balls are something that I have never seen on a menu in California. We probably have them here, but the only other time that I have ever eaten them was on a vacation to Toronto. The UK pork balls were exactly like the ones that I had in Toronto.
China Garden was a take-away only restaurant. There were a lot of small take-away only places in England, not something that is common in Southern California.