Did you ever have lunch in one of those pubs that desperately wants to be a restaurant when it grows up, but ends up being a pub that tries too hard?
I had a very pleasant, allbeit expensive, roast lunch in just one such establishment. Hands up everyone that just knew I was going to say that.
Now, I know that some of you think I'm overly critical - and maybe I am. But here's an example of what I mean by the whole trying too hard thing.
The two of us (that's my lunch companion and I) were seated at a table that was already attractively set for four people. The waitress, having taken the order for mains only - no starters (it was that pricey) - then cleared away our starter cutlery. But they left the other place settings untouched.
Now call me hypercritical if you wish, but surely if they're going to clear away cutlery we're not going to use, the should at least clear away the other place settings, which we're not going to use either?!
Of course, once I'd had this thought, I amused myself by taking the starter cutlery from one of the other place settings, and putting it on my setting. A little later, the waitress arrived to clear it away again.
I was sorely tempted to repeat with the fourth setting, but sobriety somehow won out, for once.
Shortly after we ordered, the waitress arrived with two little shot glasses, of watermelon granita with orange juice froth. They tasted pretty nasty, but luckily the spoon supplied was too small to fit properly into the shot glass, so we were spared the full horror.
The bread was cold, and the butter so warm it had the consistency of custard. Nice.
By contrast, just look at the finger bowl.
(Yes, I know).
Oh - and this really isn't a criticism, so much as a comment - the dessert "A Chocolate Dream" was a deconstructed black forest gateau: an oblong slab of chocolate sponge, topped with a kind of moussy creamy cheesecakey brick, and topped with a layer of chocolate. It was set in a puddle of cherry sauce, with three artfully-placed cherries for accompaniment. The kirsch had been mislaid during the deconstruction process. Or the reconstruction, I don't know.
All that said, the food was really pretty tasty, if a bit fussy. And a few quid over-priced.