It was just gone 2 pm when we showed up at the Dog and Pheasant, East Mersea, so one of us nipped in ahead to check that they were still serving lunches. Yes, they said, Sunday lunches were available up until 3 pm - though sometimes if they were very busy they ran out of roast beef before that time. Well, we were ready right now, so in we all trooped and bought a round of drinks and then I went to order eight Sunday Lunches. Oh, sorry, they said, actually we've run out of vegetables.
Vegetables! OK, so if the roast meat has all gone, it's all gone. A joint of beef can hardly be rustled up in ten minutes. But vegetables? Haven't they got a freezer for emergencies? There's a Co-op seven minutes' drive away with a whole aisle full of fresh veg. There's a Tesco Express eight minutes' drive away selling three-for-the-price-of-two ready-prepared bags of microwaveable vegetables. There's a pick-your-own farm with ready-picked veg two minutes down the road. Couldn't someone have nipped out while we chatted over Guinness and crisps? This isn't a five-star restaurant. This is a pub. We all know what a pub roast is like - it's well-done beef with a well-done Yorkshire pud and some well-done veg. We don't expect more than that. In fact we like it. It's comfort food. It reminds us of school and Sunday lunch at Grannie's. We're not expecting precision-fried ocra and chantenay carrots in cumin and coriander butter. We're thinking pub peas and a bit of pub cauliflower. All drenched in gravy, obviously.
The Victory is definitely not the place to go for that traditional country pub ambiance. It's all very modern inside, with huge squishy sofas and no discernible horse-brasses. But you can see the sea and watch the boats bobbing around at high tide and life going generally by. Friendly service and superior loos, too. Our only cavil was the hideous muzak, which bordered on the intolerable at one point, when we were convinced that two separate and unrelated tracks were playing at the same time! I think we were just too close to the speakers for comfort.
Well, anyway, the D&P clearly didn't want our three-figure sum's worth of turnover. Or our goodwill. Perhaps they simply didn't like the look of us. Although it's not as if we were caked in mud or armed with musical instruments or attempting to smuggle the dog in.
We trundled to West Mersea and headed for the revamped Victory, which served us eight delicious Sunday lunches without any fuss but with plenteous veg, generous slabs of beef, lashings of horseradish and some excellent Yorkshire puds, all very nicely presented.
Replete, I was faced with a difficult choice. Curl up with the Observer and fall immediately to sleep, or take the dog along the beach and enjoy the fabulous late afternoon light. I plumped for the latter. A good choice, I think. And plumply waddled off approximately 1% (or fewer) of the calories I'd just taken on board. Pics on the post below.