Mediocrity reigns when away

I spend a lot of eating time away from the kitchen and always wonder, “could I do better?”. Have to say the answer’s often a grumpy “Yes” and today was no exception.
Marooned in Taunton’s Holiday Inn – on the same car/park industrial/shopping/estate on the edge of the town as the Express by Holiday Inn – I had a least enjoyed the excellent pool. There didn’t seem much prospect of eating anywhere that wasn’t a taxi ride away, and I have had not bad experiences at other HI’s including Bradford and Calais (well, I know it’s in France ….).
At least the blackboard of ‘specials’ suggested that some of it wouldn’t be boil in a bag, head office designed cooking. Wrong.
Ok, I chose ‘rough pate’ thinking no one can muck that up, and rough at least means it won’t be ‘Brussels Smooth and Pink’. Wrong. The three kinds of bread were interesting, but fridge cold. Butter, when provided, practically frozen. And the pate, well cold, tasteless and yes, Pink.
My chalky, handwritten special was described as “Whitby Scampi in a sweet and sour sauce on a bed of fragrant rice”. Now that sounds like a delicate enough thing, fresh pieces of scampi in a spicyish sauce with rice and a side salad.
Now imagine: a microwaved pile of rice that lost its aromatic qualities – if it ever had any – some time earlier; a pile of breadcrumbed fishy pieces of doubtful provenance – Whitby, not likely – deep fried to an inch of their existence; an even larger pile, a monstrous pile, of previously frozen peas; a tiny dish of sweet and sour sauce that had been zapped. And a typically thrown together side salad of wet lettuce, cold peppers and onions.
What’s to complain about? It was what it said – just. Each item was edible – just. It filled a hole – just.
So it didn’t meet my expectation, who’s fault’s that? Mine I suppose for imagining that £20 bought you a decent meal, not one that was just ……..