Years ago I remember reading a review of a TV programme which, while on paper looked to have all the right ingredients for success, somehow ended up dying on the screen.
I had this feeling walking in to the Lower Royal George last Sunday.
The food can’t be faulted, the beers are fine and our waitress was as sweet as the honeycomb ice cream served up for desert – and yet something was missing – the key ingredient for a fun evening: a buzzing, vibrant atmosphere.
Although it is in a desolate spot in Scammonden it was Mother’s Day so I had thought the restaurant might be rather fuller than it was: the four of us plus another couple who soon departed.
To be fair the bar area which has a lovely real fire had several regulars and diners in it.
My friend ‘Nice’ Nigel, a former sales director, joked to me as we perused the extensive menu that it felt “like entering The Slaughtered Lamb from American Werewolf in London.”
Like him I would not choose this place to either drink or dine in though on a previous occasion I had enjoyed an offal lunch, something that the landlord Stephen Lowe puts on every few months or so.
The menus are easily the most readable in town – huge things more than a foot and a half high or so and with plenty of dishes on them.
There are 10 starters alone, several different varieties of steak for mains, several fish dishes as well as a selection of food from around the world including a number of vegetarian options.
In addition there is a specials board offering everything from pork chops to a full mixed grill – Stephen is a former butcher so can be relied upon to give diners full value for money on that score.
Nigel plumped for prawn cocktail, which was perfectly presented and the fresh salad was appealing.
He said: “If I am being fussy, I would say they were a little generous with the prawns and I was looking in vain for the paprika dusting and also Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, a common fault in the Huddersfield area it seems.”
I had garlic mussels which were fine while my photographer friend Lorne opted for the pea and ham starter which he demanded was served extra piping hot.
He said: “Although it had the apparent consistency of porridge it tasted good.”
Our young journalist friend ‘Baby’ Susie said: “If it’s ‘comfort pub grub’ you’re after this is definitely the place to go to.
“My starter of hot camembert with onion chutney was superb without being over-the-top and drizzled in unnecessary exotic-sounding sauce.”
Nigel’s main course was a sirloin steak.
He said: “Once again the presentation was excellent. It was cooked perfectly, with a totally even ‘medium’ depth of cooking throughout the entire steak. Top marks!
This was achieved not least, because the steak was of a high quality. I had excellent chips, and a fresh and well-presented side salad to go with it.
Lorne had scampi and chips and I was not any more imaginative ordering a fillet steak and chips with a pepper sauce, both of which were fine.
Susie had lasagne which tasted as good as it looked.
The wine list was so dull we didn’t bother but we all cheered up when the sweets menu was presented on a double-sided blackboard.
There were some 18 different choices many of which were homemade.
Eventually, after much collective contemplation, I went for a slightly disappointing treacle sponge pudding with custard which could have done with a bit more treacle while the mouth-watering honeycomb ice cream proved popular with Nigel and Susie. Lorne enjoyed his bread and butter pudding.
Afterwards we had some outstanding liqueur coffees with the cream perfectly chilled above the coffee and wandered around the restaurant enjoying the selection of old photographs and memorabilia – from a little red post box to pictures of the Queen and a fascinating one of Holmfirth railway station.