Fortunately we didn’t have the steak

A trip to a fondly remembered restaurant can be a disappointment. Sometimes the experience can become overblown with the years, other times the memory can elect to blot out the bad bits. Even when you faithfully record things in a journal, there are always details that get missed, ignored or embellished.

Back in 2004, during our stay in the Tamar Valley, we had dinner at The Horn of Plenty. It had been recommended to us by someone who Mirinda worked with (she thinks it was JC). I wrote about it here, at the end of a very full day of sight seeing.

For this trip, we wanted to return to The Horn of Plenty. Unfortunately they were fully booked, all week, for dinner and only had today at lunchtime for a meal of any kind. We snatched up the 1pm slot. The booking was for today.

Back in 2004 we started our meal with a drink out on the terrace. This wasn’t going to happen today. While the terrace, which looks out over fields and down to the Tamar River, was very tempting, the weather had other ideas. At one point, the rain was lashing at the glassed in dining room. We happily remained dry while the sheep in the field lay down, obviously weighed down with wet wool.

We ordered our lunch (sadly, they’d run out of the calamari) and sat back with a glass of red, watching the rain come and go and listening to the diners around us.

There was one chap who wasn’t happy with his meal. There was a lot of discussion with his waitress which mostly featured her apologising. It was all done very quietly so I couldn’t actually hear what was being said, but it seemed to involve the state of the steak he’d ordered. It was taken back to the kitchen.

He wasn’t happy with the return of his meal either. He took a fork full and, having eaten it, deemed it inedible. He didn’t want anything else and sat and chatted to his wife who was happily eating whatever she’d ordered.

In the meanwhilst, behind us, a woman complained that her steak had arrived with the peppercorn sauce all over it when she’d asked for it to be on the side. The waitress apologised and took it back to the kitchen. She returned with a second steak which the woman ate but which she declared was not very nice.

Mirinda spoke to her in the bathroom, so we found out the whole story.

All the steak related problems occurred after we had ordered. While I went for the lamb, Mirinda had ordered the steak. It was with a bit of trepidation that we waited for hers to arrive. But, before the main course, we had our entrées.

My charcuterie plate was delicious and decidedly pretty. I was particularly keen on the caperberries which, while I’ve had them before, I didn’t know the name of. We asked the waitress and she happily went out to the kitchen and asked the chef. She came back with the name and little bowl of extra ones. They were an unexpected treat.

But then, it was time for the main course. And, for reasons known only to Bacchus, we were both presented with the lamb.

We could have been quite rightly annoyed and sent it back but, given what was happening with other steak orderers, Mirinda decided to have the lamb. And it was lovely. Especially the mint sauce. I told our waitress to let the chef know it was the best sauce I’d had for years. As good as my mum used to make, I said.

Our desserts were also excellent. I had the panna cotta while Mirinda had the lemon tart. Mine was delicious while Mirinda’s was very tart, which apparently is what you want in a lemon tart.

And, then, of course, coffee with petit fours.

While I paid, I chatted to the poor waitress who had been in the middle of the steak rows. She had bright orange fluorescent nail polish which I complimented her on. She said she’d thought it would cheer people up. I told her it worked on me, but then, I didn’t have the steak.

All round, a lovely meal. It would have been nice to have had dinner there but, as things turned out, the lunch was great and very entertaining. What more could you ask for?

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