It was the fiftieth birthday celebration, or at least a part of it. Jo did not know what was happening, just that something was. Liz had helped me to select the restaurant. Neither of us had been there, but it had received good reviews. The immediate family, and their boy and girl friends made their various arrangements and we arrived at the Axe and Compasses in good time. The boys had brought some 'party things' - a hat and a badge with flashing lights - they had also bought some sensible presents.
After a drink we were led to our table. I had not tried Doom Bar before, it has a very pleasant taste, and is far too easy to drink. I am limited to just one as I have a full seven seater to drive home later.
The menu had been handed out in advance so by the time we arrived at our table most of us had decided what we would order. We had been told as we arrived that there was no pork left. We ordered various starters, I ordered the pigeon breasts. The starters soon arrived, after a very quick Grace from Liz we began to eat. We were in a quiet corner, but had livened it up a bit by now - and the regular family banter was already well under-way. The pigeon was extremely rarely cooked and bled onto the plate. I cannot eat bleeding meat, but the boys seemed happy to share an extra starter. There was quite a wait for main courses. We spent the time chatting and were not too concerned. Jo said I should tell them, but the meat was eaten, so it didn't seem right.
Eventually the main courses arrived. They were less than impressive from the start. The yorkshire puddings served with the lamb were burnt, so was the top layer of the lasagne. I had the salmon in cream and prawn sauce, with new potatoes. Andrew had chosen the same thing, so I passed on my prawns. Both of us agreed that the sauce was just prawns in cream, and was quite unpleasant. The vegetables were delayed (forgotten). By the time they arrived we were half way through the main courses. Some of my potatoes were cooked on one side and hard on the other. The carrots in the vegetable were similarly varied, some almost raw, some almost sloppy.
The third course was skipped but some of us - again because our choice was no longer available.
Only while I was paying for the meal was I asked if everything had been OK. I didn't get to the end of my list of complaints, I don't think she wanted to hear any more. Some items were removed from the bill.
We enjoyed the evening. Our family get togethers are usually enjoyable, and it takes more than a poor meal to put us off. However, it was a big occasion, that cannot be repeated, and I for one was left disappointed.