You may recall my saying in last week's rundown of the menu's (*gasp*, I haven't done one for this week yet - and it's Thursday tomorrow! Darn you Christmas, you're getting in my way! lol) that we were going for lunch with my parents at the Fisherman's Haunt at Winkton.
Well, in all fairness to what happened there this last weekend, I don't feel it would be right to do a proper review as such, but I'm sure you'd be interested to know what happened.
We (five in all) rolled up at the Pub and all appeared to be peace and tranquillity. Upon entering the bar, I noticed a particularly surly-looking fellow behind the bar and a large chap who appeared to be in charge, but who also appeared to have lost any sense of customer service and good manners while he was speaking to my Dad. Not a good start. However, the large fellow took us to a very pleasant table and took our drink order, albeit looking a trifle distracted throughout. Little did we know, just what was going on behind the scenes to cause such surliness and distraction!
Our waitress arrived to take our orders and she turned out to be very smiley and pleasant. We ordered two melon dishes, a red pepper soup, a prawn cocktail and a chicken liver parfait for our starters and two beer battered fish with chips, a roast beef, a roast pork and a confit duck leg for our main course. Thus began the wait. So we waited, and chatted, and waited, and chatted, and got a little fidgety, and waited some more. After a wait of around 45 minutes the starters arrived and were unremarkable but pleasant.
Then, a chap who appeared to be the restaurant manager (or some such) appeared and apologised for the wait, asking whether we'd been told "what was going on there, today?". "No!", we all chorused, our curiosity having been seriously piqued. It turned out that their Head Chef had fallen the day before and cracked two ribs and hence was off sick. Thus, the responsibility for the kitchen had fallen to the second chef - who couldn't cope with the stress and had walked out! Picture the poor old third chef, who really hadn't bargained for what he got, that day, doing all the prep and cooking for the entire restaurant - which was heaving with people. Poor soul!
So, it appeared that because of the lack of people doing prep, the vegetables were dwindling and they only had broccoli and brussels sprouts available. That was fine by us, as we all ate those - and the two that didn't were having Fish & Chips anyway.
With the promise of 20% off the final bill, we resumed our wait whilst feeling terribly sorry for the poor old third chef, who must have been wondering what he'd done to deserve such treatment.
Eventually our main courses arrived. The battered fish was so huge it looked like it was preparing for a swift getaway, but was declared extremely good by its recipients. The chips weren't so good, being common-or-garden freezer chips. However, in the circumstances, who would have complained? Not us. The two roast meals - beef and pork - were absolutely enormous and excellent value for money. The duck leg, however, was a bit of a tragedy. The skin was suitably crisp and tasty and the best thing about it. The meat was a little on the dry side, which was quite an achievement considering it was supposed to be a confit duck leg. It was served with mashed potato and a duchesse potato (which seemed an odd combination, being mashed potato x 2) and with a light but extremely vinegary jus that was probably quite adequate in quantity bearing in mind its acidity, but did nothing to help the mountain of mashed potato go down. The bowls of vegetables were completely mullered - think school sprouts and broccoli, but again in the circumstances we were just glad to get some food!
The menu set out for the day was the £9.95 for two courses version, when we'd been expecting the Table D'Hote menu, however I feel that the change in menu was probably essential, to save the third chef from abandoning ship, too.
Not one to be put off by horrendous service, we ordered dessert and were suitably impressed. Well, all except for the "cinnamon ice cream" which most disappointingly, turned out to be vanilla. A nice vanilla - but vanilla nonetheless. The profiteroles were cushiony and filled with cream, the "hokey pokey cheesecake" was sweet enough to make your teeth fall out and the Pecan pie was so enormous, it proved impossible to finish.
All in all, the Fisherman's Haunt showed signs of being a very acceptable lunch venue. It was quite obvious that we caught it on a spectacularly bad day and I would very much like to return and have another go! Maybe we'll ring beforehand and make sure the kitchen staff are all assembled, this time.