Generally this time of year would be the time for Christmas meals, whether that be friends or family. I have been planning our traditional Christmas meal (for Christmas Eve) but in the past I have been to various Christmas meals for various things.
My work would do a regular Christmas event with a meal, we didn’t have one last year (2020) due to the lockdown. I also didn’t go to the meal in 2019, as the one before in 2018 had been terrible. Rubbish food and awful service, didn’t want a repeat of that experience. I did though have an excellent meal with the team I was in, in 2019 at the Mud Dock Cafe. Then I had a tasty homemade chestnut and parmesan gnocchi in a truffled mushroom and spinach cream followed by a rather delightful selection and beautifully presented board of cheese.
I am not attending an office Christmas meal this year, my (newish) team is rather geographically dispersed, but I did recently attend a festive gathering of our Scout Leadership team (I am a trustee). We went to the Fork ‘n’ Ale Taproom & Kitchen in Weston-super-Mare.
I drove down to the seafront, parked my car and walked to the taproom, it was blowing a gale and it was bitterly cold. I was reminded of Bill Bryson, who in Notes from a Small Island said of Weston-super-Mare.
First, you were born. This in itself is a remarkable achievement. Being born was easily the most remarkable achievement of your whole life. And think: you could just as easily have been a flatworm.
Second, you are alive. For the tiniest moment in the span of eternity you have the miraculous privilege to exist. For endless eons you were not. Soon you will cease to be once more. That you are able to sit here right now in this one never-to-be-repeated moment, reading this book, eating bon-bons, speculatively sniffing your armpits, doing whatever you are doing – just existing – is really wondrous beyond belief.
Third, you have plenty to eat, you live in a time of peace and ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ will never be number one again.
If you bear these things in mind, you will never be truly unhappy – though in fairness I must point out that if you find yourself alone in Weston-super-Mare on a rainy Tuesday evening you may come close.
It wasn’t Tuesday! Well at least it wasn’t raining, though I wish I had worn a hat. I opened the door to the Fork ‘n’ Ale and the wash of heat was welcome and needed.
First things first after finding everyone, was to buy some drinks. They had a really interesting selection of beers. As it was festive I went with the Christmas Nectar, a light beer which was delicious.
The service was excellent, friendly, warm and efficient.
For my starter I had the pulled chicken and maple bacon terrine. It was supposed to come with toasted chunky bread, but we had chunky bread (untoasted).
It was certainly an interesting concept and though I enjoyed the dish, I think it was something I wouldn’t have again. The bread was excellent though.
The turkey choice on the menu was a breaded turkey escalope with ham, and though it was turkey, the dish didn’t sound very festive, so I went with the lamb.
This was a lamb shank with a red currant and port gravy. It came with roasted potatoes carrot and parsnips. I don’t think it came with the butternut squash mentioned on the menu! Served alongside were the Forks collard greens, which was peas, beans, courgette and cabbage.
The lamb was kind of what I was expecting, slow cooked lamb in a delicious gravy. The lamb was very tender and I enjoyed it. I expected it was brought into the pub and then heated as required and served, nothing special, but still tasty.
I did think though that the accompaniments were excellent, the roasted parsnip and carrots were delicious and I really enjoyed the collard greens. I could have done with a few more potatoes, but they were nice and crisp.
I would have preferred cheese and biscuits to finish, but that wasn’t on the menu, so I went with the brownie and ice cream. They had run out of coffee ice cream, so we were given a choice of a range of flavours. I went with vanilla.
The brownie was moist and had a rich chocolate flavour. That was a great end to the meal.
I have in the past had some terrible festive meals, this one was rather good. Some interesting choices made about the menu, but I did think there was some really tasty food on offer.
I had never been to the Fork ‘n’ Ale pub before to eat, actually not been there to drink either. They have a great choice of beers and the food was interesting, I think I would visit again.