Dinner Out: The George Inn, Cambridge, Gloucestershire

Second in a series of mediocre meals with my family. Oh to go for a meal lately that I can say nice things about.

So, we went to Slimbridge today. Slimbridge is a nice place, and we had a lovely morning out as a family. Lots of birds. And its conveniently around the corner from The George Inn at Cambridge. A pub that was recommended to us by my parents. Please believe me, reader, we will be heeding no further such recommendations.

I always feel sightly nervous when I go to a pub or restaurant and there are lots of signs outside – 2 meals for £6.95, Steak  & Strawberries £8.95 etc. Fine dining establishments never do this. Pubs with a lot of return trade or word of mouth recommendations shouldn’t need to do this. But you know, one day I’ll be wrong about these signs. One day I will have a wonderful and good value dining experience in a pub that has all this outside of it. Its just never happened yet.

Inside was fairly standard country pub – it was busy too, which is always a good sign. Standard collection of brass pans lining the wall. Really shiny brass actually, you get the impression they look after their tat really well. Either that or it’s really new tat. And lamps too. No obvious link unless.. unless they were meant to represent heating because it was pretty hot and stuffy in there. I could see open windows, but I think aircon is really the way to go. Too hot, I know it’s summer, I know its the countryside but is also 2009. There must be a way to make it more comfortable. Maybe the heat is  to encourage people to drink more? Staff were standard smiley and available. Menus on the table, and because it was Sunday, standard roasts on the blackboard. Cheap too, at £7.95 for adults and £4.95 for kids. But your choices were pork or beef. On the standard menu, it was very standard pub grub. Fish and chips, Steak and Ale Pie, Steak, Mixed Grills, you know. Standard.

So we had Steak and Ale Pie, Chicken Stuffed with Pate, Minted Lamb Chops, a Beef Roast and a child’s Pork Roast. And a side of Onion Rings. The onion rings were fine – although clearly straight from the freezer. The Lamb Chops were apparently delicious. According to Greedy Boy, the child’s Pork was ‘nice’. The chicken was nice. The roast beef was overcooked. The steak & ale pie was the saltiest meal I have had – possibly ever. Maybe saltier than a pie made with cheap salted peanuts, ready salted crisps and extra salt. On the upside, the meat was tender, and the pastry was short. But my god. Salt. I can’t fault their generosity with the attendant vegetables or chips for us all. Which were ok.

But where it went badly wrong was at dessert. You ask: Given your main was so bad, GreedyRosie, why did you have dessert? Well, the clue is in the question, reader, pure greed. Greedy Boy was always going to have dessert – he had his eye on the Chocolate Fudge Cake from just about the minute we walked through the doors. And I, I saw Sticky Toffee Pudding on the menu and I was just.. I just had a stupid Homer Simpson moment I guess. I know. All my own fault. It was bready, not particularly sticky or dark, and came with squirty cream. The boy obviously loved his chocolate cake. Greedymother was told at the point of delivering the desserts that her cherry pie had run out and would she like something else (you couldn’t ask us 5 minutes ago?), the knickerbocker glory was a triumph of cheap tasting ice cream,a slice or two of canned peach and some jelly. And the ubiquitous squirty cream. But the worst thing, the very worst thing was the cherry cheesecake. Greedysister had ordered it because she assumed it was the safe option – cheesecake with cherry sauce, yeah? No. Cheesecake with pink cheese. Greedysister didn’t eat it, proclaiming it was ‘not very nice’. Now, you don’t know GreedySister like I do, but let me reassure you, something has to be a deal worse than ‘not very nice’ for her to not eat it. Already regretting my stupidity, I decided to try a bit.  Now,  I have had some bad puddings in my lifetime – and I’m including a dessert served with cream that had gone off in the list – but this. The pink stuff. Didnt taste like cherries, or berries, or dessert, or even pink. It tasted like a sorry cross between pepto-bismol and generic chemicals. And even though, I would have given this place 2 out of 5 at this point, those 2 stars just flew out of the window for serving something just so horrible.

So don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Chocolate Overdose

I don’t often make a dessert in the week. Mostly because, actually I don’t have a very sweet tooth, my greediness being directed to foods of the savoury variety. Also, because I have better things to do on a weekday evening than spend any unnecessary time in my kitchen. But on highdays and holidays I can usually be persuaded to make a chocolate cake for after dinner. Today was such a day. This is a pretty rich cake, but not ubersweet. I estimate it would serve 8-10.

chco cake

For the cake:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 225 ml milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 50g best cocoa powder
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 medium FREE RANGE eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to gas 4. Grease and line two 8 inch sandwich tins. Add the lemon juice to the milk and leave aside to curdle. In a large bowl, pour in half the sugar and the softened butter and cream them together until light and fluffy. Add the remaining sugar. Then, sieve togther the bicarb, flour and cocoa powder, into the bowl a little at a time, alternating with the soured milk, two or three tablespoons at a time until both are combined. Divide between the two baking tins and put in the oven for 30 minutes. When cooked (when a skewer comes out clean after being dipped into the centre of the cakes), remove from the oven and leave in the tins for ten minutes before cooling on a baking rack.

For the frosting:

  • 250g  good quality plain chocolate (I use green & blacks 72% cocoa. If you don’t use good quality chocolate here, there’s not much point making this)
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300 ml soured cream

Slice each cake in half widthways to make 4 layers. Break up the chocolate into an ovenproof bowl and melt the chocolate down over a simmering pan of water. Cool down a bit and then stir in the sugar and soured cream. Put one layer on a plate, then spread with a quarter of the frosting. Repeat with all the layers and top with the frosting.