No food reviewer sets out for a meal and hopes to find something to complain about.
What we want is the same as every diner – a satisfying meal, served up with good grace in a pleasing environment and cooked by someone who clearly knows what they are doing.
There are, of course, some restaurants that have an enviable reputation for doing just that.
Take, for example, Eric’s in Lindley, which opened just short of seven years ago. Not only is this award-winning establishment still in business – a good enough sign in its own right – but is positively thriving.
I’ve been eating out long enough to know the reason why. Eric’s has a strongly seasonal menu, with just the right amount of choice; the food is beautifully cooked and I would suspect that very little comes out of the deep freezer. The restaurant itself has a relaxed, smart bistro feel about it.
In contrast I’ve eaten in restaurants whose menus resembled bargain basement clearance sales - listing everything from curries and Peking duck to fish ’n’ chips, burritos, pub grub, meal deals and feeble attempts at ‘fine dining’. No-one should be fooled by such menus.
They may as well say at the top of the page that EVERYTHING comes out of the freezer and makes the unedifying journey to your plate via the microwave or the deep fat fryer – because it’s either that or they are throwing a lot of stuff away every day.
Restaurants cannot be all things to all people. They have to be brave, choose a direction and stick to it; do a few things well rather than a lot of things badly or indifferently.
Rant over. Back to Eric’s, where I celebrated my birthday last week with a slap-up lunch.
Good lunches, as opposed to sarnies, soups and snacks are hard to come by. I should know because I used to be a lady who lunched out regularly.
The spring lunch menu at Eric’s promised a few carefully selected dishes – including pea and courgette soup, confit salmon, Bolster Moor Farm beef, seared hake and veggie dishes such as asparagus risotto and Magic Rock beer battered brie (Eric’s website promises that it takes its vegetarian options seriously. It also takes its local sourcing seriously).
After only minimal deliberation, I chose the soup and hake, the Man in Charge the salmon and rump steak.
Starters arrived promptly - our appetites already whetted with slices of moist sourdough bread and balsamic vinegar/oil – and plates were practically licked clean. My soup was possibly the best green pea concoction I’ve ever eaten; creamy and strongly savoury without being over salted.
The Man in Charge was impressed with both the quantity and quality of his salmon, which came with a pesto-type salsa and pink grapefruit – a combination that he said worked extremely well, the citrus fruit cutting through the oiliness of the fish.
My main course hake, seasonal sprouting broccoli and sauteed potatoes came with a sweet, rich, herby sauce; my dining companion, as usual, opted for a steak with fat triple-cooked chips and saffron/garlic mayo.
He reckons any restaurant worth its salt should be able to do a good steak. The portions were generous; the vegetables cooked al dente and still pleasingly green; the fish was moist and the steak perfectly medium rare. I couldn’t resist nicking a chip or two; they were crisp on the outside and crumbling on the inside, just as a good chip should be.
The price of such perfection was £20 each for two courses (and a fiver extra for the steak). We could have had a pudding (£25 for three courses) and I almost committed to a rhubarb and custard confection, but the generosity of the first two courses left us feeling entirely replete – and just a bit sleepy.
Time for a post-prandial snooze, I thought, if only I didn’t have to write up a food review.
But producing a favourable review is an entirely pleasurable experience ... as is dining at Eric’s.
73-75 L idget Street, L indley
Phone: 01484 646416.
Opening hours: Open for lunch every
day from noon (except Saturday when there’s brunch from 10.30am and afternoon tea from noon.
Children: Not really suitable for young children.
Disabled access: No disabled access.
The bill: 53.20 for two, including coffee and water.
Would you go back? Oh yes, definitely!