The venue: The Wood House, 39 Sydenham Hill, SE26 6RS
The Sunday dinner: Steak and Guinness pie, mash and vegetables
The price: £14 – 15 points removed. You’ll see why.
You may recall I vowed to give up alcohol for seven days last week. Aside from drinking three glasses of wine on Wednesday and getting absolutely fuck-faced on Friday, I managed to pull it off. So that’s good. I feel so much better for it. Just shows you what I can achieve if I set my mind to it.
Continuing in the spirit of openness, clarity and authenticity, I must reveal that this review is of a meal I ate on Saturday afternoon and not today. I’m sure it was already Sunday somewhere, so please just suspend your disbelief or whatever. And, although not a roast, it did contain mash and gravy – two key elements of my perfect meal and therefore meeting my qualifying criteria for review.
I’m revealing this information because Mr Jus was worried about possible repercussions for hoodwinking my audience, pointing out that my tangled web of disgusting lies and deceit could catch me out.
“What if the pie isn’t on the menu on a Sunday?” he challenged. “Will you mention that we have hangovers? We’re babysitting tonight, so they’ll know it isn’t true. They’ll realise it isn’t Sunday.”
I politely advised him to get a fucking grip, explaining it was highly unlikely that anyone would conduct supplementary blog post research or challenge me, reassuring him that nobody gives a shit. He didn’t seem convinced, hence this waste of my word count so far. Still, at least you know the truth. Now let’s get on with the review.
We’d just been on a very long walk in the cold January air, and despite the ongoing booze ban, I decided to have a mulled cider. It probably doesn’t count as alcohol if it’s warm. At £4.25 a pop, imagine my disappointment at this thimble of apple juice. Five points gone.
The salt and pepper pots are twice the size and they’re far away. While I didn’t expect a full pint, after clocking there was nothing on the list of ales under a fiver, this sullied my mood somewhat. Mr Jus had a lime and soda, what with being a saintly bore, which came in at an eye-watering £1.95.
However, my annoyance was transferred to a more pressing issue – the fact that Mr Jus had taken it upon himself to start tending to the establishment’s open fire; throwing logs on and generally interfering in a heating situation he was neither qualified nor permitted to partake in. I asked him to sit down and stop, worried that he was using ‘show logs’ to build flames. He scoffed at this and threw several more on before sitting down to peruse the menu.
We both correctly guessed the choice the other would make – pie and gravy for me and fish and chips for him. Then we laughed at our predictable, unimaginative and stale relationship, but you could tell we were both hurting inside and had hoped for more out of life. Still, we’re getting a new bathroom in February, so hopefully that will reignite the spark.
Here’s my dinner. Note the extra gravy pots on the plate and my liberal use of pepper. I put twice that amount on again after I took the photo. And enough salt to kill a battalion of slugs.
I tucked in. The broccoli was both overcooked and tepid, but I was hungry after the walk and battled on valiantly. The pie was hot, and the gravy reasonably warm, so I hoped that heat transference was possible from either those elements, or the furnace that Mr Jus had created. No such luck. The mashed potato was actively cold, raising suspicions that it had been microwaved from frozen. It was at that juncture I decided to take my plate over to one of the waiting staff. In a bid to demonstrate temperature levels, I held the plate aloft and finger-banged the mound of potato while he watched. It was a strange demonstration, granted, and not indicative of my actual fingering abilities – I’m a tender and skilled lover, but he understood, apologised, and took it away. Might have later had a wank over me – who knows?
I returned to our table near the burning gates of hell, where the heat from the fire had started to bubble Mr Jus’ flesh, and watched him polish off his meal. I asked him to review his fish and chips in a sentence, in case anyone was interested in his opinion. Here’s what he said:
“It was bland and they’d obviously bought the fish pre-battered , so it was too uniform. They hadn’t bought the fish fresh and then made a batter and then deep fried it. They hadn’t done that. I think they bought it frozen with the batter on. It was just too uniform. Just very expensive for what it was.”
He can’t follow simple instructions. I said in one sentence. Three points removed.
As his plate was taken away I was reassured my food would appear in three minutes. It didn’t. We ordered another overpriced round and eventually it arrived. Voila.
It was served hot the second time around, which was a promising start. They also cleverly decided to insulate the mash this time by giving it a glorious technicolour dreamcoat made of vegetables. It’s inventive, I’ll give them that, but it looks a fucking mess. The gravy was of a medium consistency, but had clotting issues, reminiscent of my time on the minipill, so was slightly off-putting. The pie? Too dry. Mr Jus claimed it was decent, as he ate about half of it, the greedy bastard. I felt that although the pastry was fairly impressive, its innards really let it down.
What I expect to unearth inside a steak and Guinness pie are chunks of delicious, tender meat in a rich, semi-stagnant, hint-of-booze gravy. There was none of that. Instead, nestled in its guts were massive chunks of carrot. Mate. I didn’t order carrot pie. Stop using cheap filler.
But what really narked me was that I was eating alone. You don’t go out for a meal with someone to eat completely separately and then pay £14 for the pleasure. That’s not what it’s about. Plus, having his little hangdog face in front of me, begging for scraps, was really annoying. They charged us full price too, when a discount or a free drink would have been more fitting, considering the sub-par dining experience
“I’m not even bothered that you messed with their fire anymore,” I told him. “I want to start smashing up this table and lob the legs into the flames, the robbing fuckers,” I continued, my disgustingly foul mouth getting the better of me, as usual. Of course, I didn’t resort to such unhinged measures. Instead, I sent them a tweet this morning, in the hope we can discuss this as adults. It’s hard to cover all issues in a single tweet, you know, and this just sort of appears philosophical, rather than an official complaint.
They haven’t responded, so I shall remove all but one of their remaining points, placing them just above a detox teabag on the leader board so far.
Final score: 1/33