As the millions of you who regularly read my blog will know, I visited my aunt who lives in Broadstairs, last weekend. We ate out 4 times during that period and it gave me a perfect platform to compare English and French restaurant food.
On the Friday lunchtime we all met at a Harvester which was located just off the main road into Broadstairs. I used to be quite a fan of these chains so I knew what to expect. Despite the fact that it was lunchtime and they were busy with reps and office workers having an end-of-week lunch, they still had an ‘early-bird menu’ which was fine by me as one of the items was a cheese-bacon burger and as I hadn’t had a decent burger in quite a while, I looked no further. My brother had a pasta dish as did my cousin. I can’t remember what my cousin’s husband had but as this is my food comparison, that’s not too important.
The burger was – well just ok. Nothing special but not bad value for £6.50. It came with fries and an unlimited salad bar so all in all it was quite good value but of course, the restaurant itself was just like any other Harvester and had no atmosphere whatsoever.
On Friday night we went into a small village called St Nicholas At Wade, not more than 5 minutes drive from Birchington where my cousin lives. The Bell Inn looks like a million other small village pubs which do food and inside, it’s just like a million other English village pubs which do food – no surprise there. We had a semi-private room which was nice but unfortunately, the food was average – well mine was. I chose the Steak and Ale Pie, which when presented to me looked great. That is until I took off the puff pastry and had to search for the steak! It was served with chips – and that’s it. Just a half-empty (no I’m being generous – a 2/3rds empty pie dish) and some soggy chips. My brother had chosen the Paella for One which is quite unusual (it’s normally served for two) and had just started it when my cousin Sue, decided that her Crispy Fried Beef was actually, Well Dried, Crispy Fried Beef. Being regulars they didn’t want to complain and neither did Robert as we were guests but we did tell the waitress later on it was ‘not very nice’. At £13 it was a poor deal.
On Saturday lunchtime we were in Broadstairs itself and there was no lack of sea- front restaurants but Sue had booked one she’d wanted to visit for a while (Posillipos – see URL below). I have to say, it was the best meal of the three we had, by far. I had chicken wrapped in ham and at £11 it was a good price until I realized that nothing was served with it. Robert and Sue had linguine with sea food (Sue’s is pictured above) and it was all delicious. I tried to get my brother (a real sea-food fan) to order the Sea Platter for Two but I think he was deterred by the price (£36) and the fact that we might all think he was just a fat git who could eat two lunches!
On Sunday I was desperate for some traditional roast-beef and we returned to the Bell Inn on the basis that if any pub within 50 miles cooked a roast-beef lunch then the Bell Inn would be it. We were in luck, with a choice of beef, lamb or chicken. Luckily my roast beef came with all the normal bits and pieces including two Yorkshire Puddings, one of which disappeared down my brother’s neck before I could pin his hand to the table with my knife. It was ok ish – maybe I’m now used to French beef which seems to have more flavor but for £8 it was not bad value. Just for comparison, my brother said his lamb was delicious, but as he’s from Glasgow, what would he know?
And that was it but being the pleb that I am, the best meal of the weekend was the bacon butties which Sue served up on Saturday night when we felt we could not do justice to a proper dinner.
So what do I think – England Vs France? I reckon that just popping into a restaurant ad-hoc in France, you would be rewarded with a higher quality meal but the price might be slightly higher - somewhere between €10 and €15 (£9 to £13.50) for a main course. The service would be crap and you’d have to wait 20 minutes for your first drink and another 30 minutes to get the bill, but you would get tastier, better cooked food.