Desperately seeking dinner in Dorset

14 Nov

hungry / www.karenswhimsy.comMy other half and I once spent a delightful wintry Sunday afternoon holed up in Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir restaurant, feasting on his eight course menu and decadently working our way through the wine list.

From the first canape to the final dessert took about four hours, which is roughly the same amount of time it took Swanage’s finest eaterie to serve us and my in-laws three courses last night.

Admittedly the entire meal for four cost less than our two post-dinner brandies at Raymond’s, but by the time dessert arrived I was practically asleep and the conversation had withered to a disinterested debate about which coffee shop chain served the most authentic cappuccino.

The in-laws insisted that the one with the faux Italian name was streets ahead and would not hear of it actually being owned by a British supermarket. Feeling suddenly drained, I took a big bite of my husband’s double chocolate muffin with chocolate sauce and extra chocolate on the side and mentally left the conversation.

The food, when it did arrive, was really very good. Tawny’s Wine Bar has been the best restaurant in town since the 1970s at least, and I’m fairly sure it still has the same decor. The wood panelled walls are now adorned with a cheerful dado rail of red fairy lights (not sure which episode of Changing Rooms was responsible for that little flourish) and the menu is full of hearty country food. It is not the place to come for salad/sushi.

The problem is that it has also only ever seemingly had one waitress, who attempts the culinary equivalent of a nightly painting of the Forth Bridge. No sooner has she seated one set of diners and retrieved menus from another (there is a perennial shortage) for them, then some other pesky table needs more wine, or another’s starters are ready. She works her way frantically between more than 20 tables while everybody awaits their turn… and their food… in a perpetual state of optimism that maybe they will be next.

To complain about the service would be like kicking a puppy between the eyes, and yet it is so indescribably slow that last night I found myself routing around in my handbag for escaped sweets/mints/sugar sachets between courses (there weren’t any).

Our desserts arrived at 11pm, and while we felt like the final marathon runners over the finishing line, we were by no means the last diners to put down our forks.

“Coffee?” asked the waitress hopefully.

Despite our earlier conversation the mere possibility of a disappointing cappuccino by that stage was just too much.

“We don’t think we’ve got time,” we answered sadly.

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4 Responses to “Desperately seeking dinner in Dorset”

  1. almostwitty November 15, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Maybe it was the chef’s fault for being too slow, rather than the waitress for not bringing the food out? Depends on how cold the food was when it arrived… ?

  2. zskdorset November 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    The food wasn’t cold – that would have been even worse! But the poor woman could have done with a pair of rollerblades.

  3. almostwitty November 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Hope you gave the poor puppy-dog-eyed waitress a tip!

    • zskdorset November 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

      darling, i didn’t pick up the tab! the in-laws kindly paid. I’m sure they did tip though 🙂

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