A fine day out at Flamingo Land, on the last Saturday of the school summer hols, followed by food at a pub-grub stop that’s long been a favourite of ours. But on this visit it was the meal, not the rides, that was a real rollercoaster.
In truth it rarely hit the heights ... the experience dipped faster than Cliffhanger, had more twists and turns than Kumali.
For many years the Providence has given us a good pint/drink and a fine meal on our returns from the theme park, or from York, or anywhere west really. It’s halfway along the B1258, our preferred cut-through from the A64 on to the Pickering-Scarborough road and home. Its steak pie was as good as, if not better than, any around here, and the welcome was equally warming.
On arrival on Saturday there was space to sit in the main bar/restaurant area or in the small rear dining room, which we’ve always thought a little secluded. We chose the bar area; we were a party of eight and there were two other families eating.
Starters and mains were chosen, and orders placed at the bar. Soon afterwards out came two of the starters – and a main course.
Then another main. Then, after a while, another. And another. Then, after a 20 to 30-minute wait, another main. And a starter. And a wait. And a starter (this is starting to sound like a foodie version of Countdown ... it certainly was a conundrum to us). And a wait for another main. Etcetera. Then we reached the one dessert we’d ordered ... and the final main that had been forgotten about.
Various lengths of waits, various mumbled apologies for the delays from the sheepish staff, dishes arriving before others had been cleared, plates plonked on the table. If Flamingo Land still had chimps, their tea party would have been better organised.
Admittedly we were a party of two fours, and had paid as such, but it can’t be beyond any eatery to bring out the courses together. And, at the end of such disarray and, for us, mounting disillusion, no offer of a free coffee, for example, which would have been much appreciated.
So ... the food itself. Of the starters the spicy chicken wings, although overdone on the outside, were tasty, and the Palma ham with melted mozzarella on warm garlic bread was an appetising opener. The pate was accompanied by an orange marmalade that was bitter rather than tangy. And the garlic mushrooms swam in a salty sauce.
The steak and ale pie still had a good amount of tender meat in it, although the pastry wasn’t as good as I remember. The accompanying chips were limp, not chunky, as stated on the menu. The lasagne had a good helping of mince, and there was a hearty Yorkshire pudding with steak and gravy filling. But the scampi’s breadcrumbs encased a tasteless, processed mush that had barely seen a shrimp.
So, on this visit, an average meal, and a poor dining experience. Which is a shame, because it’s a cosy, traditional country pub. Sometimes, say on a winter Monday night, such an experience can perhaps be forgiven, but on a summer-holiday Saturday, with not all that many people to feed, any restaurant or pub should be at the top of its game.
Ratings out of 10: Food 5; menu choice 6; service 6; decor 7; ambience 4; overall 5,