Friday, March 25, 2011

The Victoria Hotel At the top of the Darlington Hill.

The Victoria Hotel
At the top of the Darlington Hill.
It was a Thursday lunch time when we decided to try the Victoria Hotel. We had not been there for a few years, certainly not since its rebuild, so we decided to see if it was a good as we remembered. It has a very large and adequate car park, befitting a pub that is known to be extremely popular with young people on weekends.
On arrival we were faced by a ‘please wait to be seated’ sign, but nobody there to greet us. Often that can be annoying, but on this occasion any sense of impatience was immediately defused by a big smile from a young woman behind the bar who promised to be right with us ASAP. Then yet another acknowledged us and smiled in a way that suggested she would be with us shortly. They were obviously busy, so it was nice to be noticed and not just ignored. Then a few moments later a young man bustled out from the kitchen with both hands full of plates for delivery to tables at which expectant diners were waiting. I took it that he was the Bistro Manager. He called out that he would be with us very soon and as once he had delivered the plates of food came straight to us. I noted that one of the female staff was also about to come to help us but turned back. Excellent public relations by all concerned!
As I was nursing a head ache I asked if we could be seated in a quiet spot. The area in which all the other diners were gathered was already fairly crowded as it was St.Patricks day and I had a feeling it would not only fill up, but get a bit noisy. Without the slightest hesitation the young Bistro Manager showed us to an empty section of the dining room and seated us in a most comfortable spot. He then gave us some time to read the menu, but I noted that even though he bustled in and out of the kitchen a lot, he glanced at us each time and we were certainly not being ignored. As soon as we were ready he took our orders and we sat back to enjoy nice warm bread rolls served up with butter at room temperature.
I had decided on the daily special which was a steak with garlic prawns on top. My wife had pasta. The meals were very prompt in coming and neatly arranged, if not perhaps as artistic as one sees in a lot of places these days. Personally I prefer a good feed to an artistic presentation so I had no problem with viewing a plate that was covered with a generous serve of steak, oozing with Prawns and a great garlic sauce. For a lunch time special the steak was quite tender. Not remarkably so, but tender enough for my tired old teeth to deal with and I had the impression that under the juicy covering it may have been tenderized.
As the prawns were merely a topping to the steak I did not expect too many and yet there were enough for me to feel that I had not been short changed. The taste of the garlic sauce was excellent and seemed to well compliment both the prawns and the steak. There was no need to count how many potato chips were on the plate as they were quite numerous as well as crisp and brown. Sometimes it can be due to the potatoes used, but the taste did not quite seem to be the equal of their crispiness and evenly cooked appearance.
The Victoria does not provide a salad bar, but the salad provided on the plate was crisp and tasty, if somewhat conventional.
My wife was making signs that her pasta meal was quite excellent and declared it all tasty as well as a really good serve. Presentation was again not really in line with that modern trend of turning a plate into an artwork while hiding a lack of food on it. Instead it was a very adequate serve and of course that is important because in the end what matters is if you feel satisfied inside on leaving, not if you thought the chef had talent as an artist.
We don’t often have a dessert at lunch time but on this occasion decided we would do so. Ice-cream was the choice and once again it was a fair serve for a fair price.
In all the experience was very positive. The prices are pretty much on average for larger pubs. Not as cheap as some that offer lunch time specials, but none the less I felt they were fair and the food provided was similarly fair for the price.

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