Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Like the Pub Experience

We went to another pub for dinner. This one was more like the experience we were told about many times before coming.

We discovered a host/hostess stand right inside the door with a sign telling us to find a table, note the number of the table, and then order our food at the bar. This procedure is more or less what we had been told by others more experienced in the ways of pub dining. Some pubs you just order at the bar and they see where you are seated. This pub is a fairly good size, with many rooms and nooks and crannies in either direction. Wandering around for the right size table, finding one in a room off to the right.

The children were fascinated by the ATM machine near our table. They kept asking for cards to swipe or cash to put in. They don't quite understand how the machine works. It does have buttons and a bright flashing computer screen and a slot for money. Luckily, they did not see the gambling and trivia machines in the other rooms. At least it kept them occupied and no other customers were interested in using it.

Our table had a small jar full of cutlery and napkins, a little box with condiment packets, a few menus (including kids' menu and dessert menu), and a small metal plate with the number 41 on it. I looked briefly around and couldn't find where 42 was at, otherwise we would have sat there. We perused the menu while the children took turns typing on the ATM's number pad. After making our choices, we all headed up to the bar to order food.

Ordering was delightfully easy, except that in the excitement we forgot to figure out drinks beforehand. We gave our table number, ordered our dinners, asked for waters for everyone, and I ordered a Strongbow Cider. The lady asked if we'd like a pitcher of water and glasses. That was fine with us. Our order went in and I paid for it all. I waited at the bar to pick up our drinks (another normal pub procedure). The cider came first (as is only right and fitting) then she poured a pitcher of water. She gave me two plastic cups for the kids and went to the back to get regular glasses for the adults. Figuring I had more than I could handle, I took the cider and the plastic cups to the table and went back for the pitcher. As I carried the pitcher, the bar maiden followed me with the glasses for the adults.

She saw that the kids were full of energy and ambition for great things, so she soon brought us crayons and some activity books. Jacob really enjoyed his book. There was a fill-in-the-letter problem where each spot had a number corresponding to a letter in the alphabet. The key was A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. He enjoyed decoding the messages. He can't really read what he decoded; he just had fun finding the numbers and letters associated with them. Many other activities kept him busy and at the table till our food arrived.

I had steak pie with mashed potatoes and peas. It was a three by five rectangular pie with yummy beef, onions, and dark gravy inside. It was quite delicious. Jacob had chicken dippers with rice and vegetables. Lucy had macaroni and cheese with garlic bread and vegetables. They wound up trading a lot of food: Jacob ate Lucy's garlic bread, Lucy ate some chicken and rice, they both more or less ignored their vegetables. Jacob's favorite part was dipping his chicken in the little square plastic ketchup container. The chicken filled the container and would lift the whole thing up on his fork. Jacob loved showing us his new trick.

We also wanted dessert, which meant a second trip to the bar for ordering and paying. Mine was an apple pie smothered in warm custard. I do mean smothered--the plate was completely covered except for the rim and the pie was totally buried. It was a bit too much. My wife's toffee sponge cake was much better, though it too had a lot of custard on it.

The best part was not having to wait around for the check. Since we'd already paid, we could clear out when we wanted, which was pretty soon after finishing dessert. The kids were ready to leave even before dessert came. We'll have to order them some next time! I left the standard 10% tip and we happily headed back home.

I'm glad we broke into the pub scene here in England and look forward to many more outings with the family.

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