September 3, 2003

An observation: food

The problem with Fairly Fancy cooking in England, in my experience, is that it gussies up what doesn't need it, and at the same time is leaves bare what really cries out for some thought and skill. (Really Fancy and Really Plain cooking in England, on the other hand, each careen from wonderful to truly bad, usually without warning)

My lamb last night was served on a bed of aubergine and something else, with lots of spears of toasted something-or-other scattered artfully about. The lamb didn't need this -- certainly not from where I'm sitting. Good lamb is nice, this was good lamb, probably local lamb. The palest lamb I remember, but very good,

The side dish of various vegetables, on the other hand, was silly in its lack of adornment. Plain potatoes, of no particular variety or interest, boiled. Once-adequate snow peas, steamed into oblivion. Plain carrots, indifferent at best, sliced lengthwise and steamed. And steamed broccoli.

I don't get it. Why not roast the carrots with a little pepper and a herb? (We're in Sherwood Forest; surely they can have a herb garden?) I'm down on broccoli this week, but it's a sauce magnet -- and, hell, you're a restaurant, you've got drippings of every sort. This is cheese country as I recall; use a touch of it. Or a flavored oil. Sage, rosemary, or thyme?

And this was a very unbusy time and a small restaurant; it's not like the kitchen was pushed over the edge.