2 August 2011

Birthday dinner - and a weird lunch at The Woolpack, Sopley

Yes, apologies for the lateness of the appearance of the "dinner" blog, only I was a bit busy eating it, then watching a DVD (Burke & Hare - which was unremarkable) and then going to bed.  Sunday was spent with my parents (see below, as regards that!), more going to bed and then I then went to work - and now here I am!

Hubby (you may have noticed a "Chillibob" commenting in places - that's him) did a wonderful job on the roast lamb dinner for my birthday.  We didn't need to worry about son & heir as he went out to a sleepover.  So it was just the two of us, tucking into the lovely lamb, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, onion sauce, mint sauce, peas and carrots with Yorkshire puddings and gravy.  What a feast!

I'd studded the lamb with rosemary sprigs, slices of garlic and anchovies before wrapping it in silver foil and roasting for 3 hours.

We'd got the butcher to bone and roll the joint for us and he'd kindly included the bones in the package, so they formed a neat trivet for the lamb to sit upon.  Ooooh, it was absolutely gorgeous and such a treat!  It had been so long, I'd quite forgotten just how much I enjoy mint sauce - not to mention the onion sauce - with lamb.  I knew I liked it - which was why I chose it for my birthday dinner, so it was lovely to re-acquaint myself with just how much I enjoy it!

I finished off the last few slices, cold, last night with some chutney.  Roll on next birthday, if birthdays mean I get roast lamb!

The following day, Sunday, we met up with my parents for lunch at The Woolpack in Sopley.  It is in such a lovely area, being within the New Forest National Park.  The pub itself is thatched and sited beside a stream.  Where we were sitting - in the conservatory - we were right beside the stream, where a duck brought her babies to paddle.  We were tempted to throw pieces of bread for her, but resisted.  I'm sure those ducklings would be far better off eating natural food (of which there had to be enough)!

Regrettably, I forgot to take the camera with me so there aren't any photographs of the food, but my point in writing about it is to comment on the quite ridiculous portion sizes.  If, in the weeks to come, I see in the local newspaper that The Woolpack has gone out of business, I shan't be surprised.  It'll be all their profits that they've thrown away in the shape of lettuce leaves and cucumber slices!

We ordered two starters - a Salmon & Prawn salad and a Butternut Squash soup.  The soup arrived in the usual tureen, but accompanied by three inch-thick half slices of wholemeal bread.  There had to have been enough bread there for three people to have had soup.

The Salmon & Prawn salad also had two of the inch-thick slices of bread (without butter), along with a good helping of prawns, a slightly meager helping of smoked salmon and an enormous heap of salad leaves incorporating iceberg lettuce, sorrel, spinach, radicchio and at least three other leaves that I didn't recognise, as well as cress, tomato, cucumber and red onion.  Not one of us finished the salad, as it was just too much.

This trend continued.  Son & heir had fish & chips, which came wrapped in newspaper (which made his day) and were the only "normal" sized portion to appear.

Hubby had Scampi, chips and salad - and had the over-sized portion of salad, all over again.

My Dad had a portion of Lasagne (which he declared was very nice), but again, accompanied by what looked to be a portion of salad some eight inches across, by three inches high with countless different types of salad ingredients, including coleslaw and potato salad.  The unfortunate part about it was that the sheer quantity of salad made the portion of Lasagne look meager in the extreme.

My poor Mum had opted for the smoked chicken salad.  Her plate arrived, a good seven eighths covered in salad some three inches high, with a bald chicken breast clinging on for dear life, at the side.  In fact, she had to hunt for the chicken under the salad.  What made matters worse, was that the chicken had been very poorly trimmed before smoking, which left a nasty-looking bloody patch at the thick end.  She cut it off and left that bit, which effectively reduced the amount of meat she had to eat with that enormous mountain of salad.  Needless to say, neither of them made it to even half way.

As for me, well I'd ordered the Mussels in cream, coriander and garlic.  I had seen that it would include crusty bread and garlic bread and was prepared for there to be too much bread - but not for the sheer weight of quantity that turned up - and not just bread but mussels too!  The earthenware pot which contained the mussels was (and I'm not exaggerating here) some ten inches across.  Now I know that mussels need a lot of room because of their shells, but there had to have been enough there for two people.  There was also three pieces of garlic bread and three slices of wholemeal bread (again, with no butter).  I didn't even touch the wholemeal, nor did I manage to finish the mussels.  I had a damned good try at finishing them, but there had to have been a third of them left by the time I ground to a halt.  They were gorgeous and the sauces was just divine - but there was so much there, that you just didn't know where to start!

Quite apart from the "throwing away their profits" aspect of the issue, there's also the point of view that when you're served with such a mountain of food, your immediate reaction is one of "good god, I'll never get through that" - which puts you off even trying.  Another aspect is that when you're being taken out for a meal, it is only polite to attempt to eat everything that is put before you - after all, someone else has paid for it and it seems only polite that you do justice to their financial outlay!  So, it's embarrassing to have to send back untouched piles of food.  Lastly - and not by any means least - is the issue of waste.  The amount of food that went uneaten last Sunday, could have fed our little family of three for at least two days.  It was a wicked and wanton waste that just didn't sit well with me at all.

The end result, was that the quality of both the foodstuffs and the cooking (which were, in the large part, both extremely good) were overshadowed by the ridiculous quantities.

I'll be writing to the pub to put these points of view across.  Don't suppose I'll get a response, but I'll feel better anyway!



  1. Yes, go for it Jenny.....Write....I do, if l have to. Or at least say summat, before leaving.
    As l'd mentioed, l went to Asda , last Sat. Ordered breky, with a coffee, went and sat down.
    Breky's o.k. Coffee...well, (Let's keep it clean) was s--h--i--t. Tokk it back, changed it for tea, after a few choice words. Someone then came out and stripped the machine, cleaned it, and replaced everything fresh. AND....I had a £4-80 refund....Job done....
    Hopefully they'll learn by it....! :).
    And, yes food is wasted, it's awful. My Mum, would turn in her grave,if we had'nt cremated her...! :(

    Salad...I know. Why do places go mad on it, anyone would think we all had rabbits at home....! (Some of us do....Well, in the deep freeze anyway).

    Sounds as though you had a great few days Jenny...Well done you. Nowt like a good burfday....! :0).
    And....Speak'in of lamb.....
    Mary avait un petit agneaci.....
    Alors que son pere abattu le berger....! :)>

  2. Oh I do, Willie, I do! Asda's cafeteria is terrible just lately, we've discovered. Their bacon rolls are just warmed pig, not bacon at all. Disgusting.

  3. Gosh, it sounds as if your trip to The Woolpack was a bit of a disappointment. At least you had a lovely romantic meal with hubby the night before ;-)

  4. Well, I wouldn't say it was a disappointment exactly, because the cooking of the majority of the food was really very good. It was more of a frustration than a disappointment, as so much food got sent back uneaten because it was just too much!

  5. I always try and give feedback to restaurants both good and bad, and normally get a reply so definitely try and contact them. I hate big portions, really puts me off my food too.

    Your roast lamb dinner looks delicious, well done to your hubby! hope you had a good birthday x

  6. Thanks for that, Anne - we'll see what happens! Hubby says thanks, too. :) I had a fab birthday - I wish they could all be so good!


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