Hip To Be Square Meal
It's already well established that I am a grumpy old fart with all the trendiness of Queen Victoria. The only aspect of 'hip' I have is the rather wide set near my bum. I have been accidentally 'on trend' (whatever the chuff that is) twice in my life. Such was the shock I had an attack of the vapours and had to lie down. So you can guess that the latest 'hipster' trend is something I view with narrow-eyed suspicion, much like that your parents used to reserve for Top of The Pops...or computers. (The irony that I am turning into my parents is not lost).
And so, hipsterism has even crept in to the way we eat. Having lunch is no longer a way to cram in calories to get you through the afternoon. It's a 'dining experience' - theatre and Art and, well, faff. Look, I'm not adverse to theatre and art – Husband Of The House (HOTH) and I met at Am Dram (that's another story best reserved for when I've had a lot more gin). I just don't particularly want it all the time and particularly not when I'm getting to that 'hangry' (angry hungry) stage of the day when all I want is food.
Take this week. HOTH and I went out for lunch. We decided to go to the new place that had opened in town (I'm not naming names!!). As soon as we walked in we realised it was TRENDY. It was young & hip & happening. It was.......YOUNG!
First, none of the tables or chairs matched. It looked like the dining equivalent of Scrapheap Challenge meets Ikea End Of Season Sale. Not even two chairs at one table were the same. Upstairs was all bare plaster & exposed light fittings. Sort of like that stage of Grand Designs where Kevin McCloud goes round when the money's run out and then the woman miraculously gets pregnant. The walls were covered in a mish-mash of paintings and drawings of various styles and (to be honest) talent. And it was heaving.
We snagged a table and sat down, perusing the bright! and! cheerful! menu! that! used! too! many! exclamation! marks!!!! There was lots of the flowery menu language to describe the food - 'nestled in', 'drizzled with', 'in a bed of'...you know the thing.
Having chosen our Artisan Unicorn Hooves On A Bed of Centaur Hide Drizzled With Leprechaun Tears (just kidding - HOTH had a burger and I had a steak ciabatta with fries) we placed the order at the bar, got our drinks and sat down to wait.
And wait we did. Wait and wait and wait. To say that the service was....erm...relaxed would be like saying The Great Wall Of China is a bit long. Or that Justin Bieber is slightly annoying. Twenty long minutes ticked by. We ran out of conversation. Being married nearly eleven years this does not take long these days. We looked for one of the waiting staff to chase up the order. Now...here's the clever bit of Trendy Place. The waiting staff are all dressed in their own clothes (as in no uniform or recognised theme, not that waiting staff should swap outfits before coming on shift. That would be weird. Wait...hang on.....I'm sensing the next trend. Remember if it happens you saw it here first). Anyway, Own Clothes Staff means you can't tell them apart from the customers! Is that tattooed & pierced girl one of the staff or trying to get served? Is the guy in the painted on jeans rolled up mid-shin, plaid shirt, brogues and too much facial hair the manager or a mangeur (that's French for eater - I looked it up)? Or just so achingly hipster he's making my palms itch? You couldn't tell. And, not being hip, we didn't want to risk being Laughed At for being Luncheon Luddites. So, we carried on waiting. Without much conversation we looked like we were on an awkward first date or something.
Thirty minutes after placing our order, the food arrived. My chips, sorry, House Fries were in a bucket. A little steel bucket. Why? What aspect of chips says 'Serve me in a cold steel bucket separate to the main part of the dish. Yeah, cold steel so I arrive at the table at something like less than room temperature'? Which, this being a trendy place, is obviously cool. At least the rest of our food was on (non-matching) plates rather than boards, slates, floor tiles or, I don't know, in a size 12 Doc Marten boot hand painted with a picture of the chef's mum.
And, do you know what? It was really nice. The food, I mean. It was lovely. Juicy steak done just right, delicious melted cheese and wholegrain mustard mayo. Side salad with a really tasty tarragon dressing. Delicious. HOTH reports that the chorizo burger was just as nice, with pesto mayo for more depth of flavour. Honestly flavourful food. We hoovered it down with 'mmmmmms' of approval and much wiping of mouths & fingers in a matter of minutes. Finally replete, we left as nonchantly as we could, nodding to staff, or customers, or maybe the postman for all we could tell. Trying to look like the kind of people who ate at that kind of place all the time - when we're not sampling micro-brewery beers no-one has ever heard of or watching Scandinavian detective shows re-dubbed into Japanese or something, that is.
The thing is, we would eat there again. We will eat there again, most likely taking Small Boy Of The House (SBOTH) who, at nearly ten, is far, far more on trend than we can ever hope to be. He'll up our cred (do you youngsters still say 'cred'?) by at least a factor of ten. It was genuinely very nice food, with a decent varied menu and it serves alcohol. But why all the fuss and faff and 'Emperor's New Food'?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not after harking back to the times where a trip to the Beefeater for prawn cocktail, leathery steak and Black Forest gateau was the height of sophistication, I just want to be able to choose my food without having to use a thesaurus. Where I know who the waiting staff are and where my food - all of it - will be served on a nice warm plate in slightly less time than it takes me to eat the damn thing. Somewhere where I might actually look like I fit in with the rest of the clientelle and not look like an extra from How We Used To Live or The Supersizers Eat.....
Right....enough ranting....I'm off to find a Wetherspoons!
Just kidding ;-)