Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It was the steak wot done it

Today, as previously mentioned, was rather horrible and rainy. But when you have a small child and rather ugly pebble dashed walls to stare at, it's best to get out even if it means getting wet. In the morning we put on our rain coats and took her to the Sports Cafe again, but not to eat (I'm not that stupid), rather to make use of their soft enclosed baby/toddler play area. After that we headed up to 'The Plaza' for an early spot of lunch at Cafe Rouge.

For non UK people, Cafe Rouge is a French brasserie chain. I use the one in Hampstead quite often for a hot chocolate and croissant, and it's perfectly nice.

For lunch today we both ordered steaks, Roberto's medium rare, mine medium. A while later two cuts of meat arrived looking as though they had seen better days. Mine was incredibly thin (and no I had not ordered the minute steak) and so well done it had carbon ambitions, and Roberto's was somewhere between well done and medium. I sent mine back and then received another piece of steak that was cooked to spec in places, blue in others, and fatty, stringy and nasty in others. Basically the cheapest worst cut they had.

I sat there thinking, 'What the fu*k???!!! Why does this keep happening to me? The thing is, although I write commentary, I'm not really the sort of person to complain. I never send food back, unless it's really bad, which has happened perhaps a handful of times in my lifetime. And by really bad I mean inedible, and why pay for something you cannot eat? It felt like groundhog day, and it made me angry.

We were eating lunch as it opened at 12 with only a handful of other patrons, so they couldn't even use the excuse that they were overrun and understaffed.

I felt sorry for our waitress too, who was working in a place that served such shyte. She seemed genuinely apologetic. I also never take shitty food out on the waiting staff by leaving a bad tip - it's not their fault.

We got back to our villa, took off our very wet outer clothing, and looked at each other. After checking the forecast (rain for the rest of the week), we decided if we didn't get out of there pronto, I could not be held responsible for my actions. We couldn't use the bikes, the pool was manically busy, and the odds on good restaurants were increasingly tilting towards shit. It was like taking a week off to stay in a really ugly flat you couldn't leave much, and get served bad food you had to pay a lot of money for. What was the point?

While Julia had a sleep we packed up our stuff, booked some flights, and tomorrow we are off to the South of France. Fingers crossed the weather is set to be around 25 and sunny, with a chance of rain on Friday. Hell, I'll take that chance.

I think what irks most is that this holiday was not inexpensive. The restaurants at Center Parcs are in line with their London counterparts in terms of prices, but with a captive audience they evidently take the piss in terms of quality. Saying that Roberto says he has never had good steak frites at Cafe Rouge, and he may have a point.

For those of you still interested in visiting, they are refurbishing and had pamphlets (with glossy photos) of villas that are a lot more stylish and in line with this century's decorating trends. If it's a warm sunny time of the year, your children are not babies, you like doing active stuff, and you don't mind a bit of a gamble with the restaurants, I'd say go for it. Will I go back? Not a chance. But then I may still be pissed about that steak. Oh and that breakfast. Oh yes, and the waffle.

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