“Are you doing an eating out?”
Busted. The steely-eyed stare from across the table and to my right was disapproving, and rightly so.
This was, after all, a birthday treat outing for mum. And little sister had caught me out on two fronts.
One: Mixing work and family time.
Two: Phones at the table. A poisonous horror I am very vocal about my opposition to.
I obviously wasn’t being discreet enough, despite my attempts to snap the dishes in front of me getting many lovely shots of my thumb and shoes.
There’s just nothing worse, and one of the things I love about mealtimes is the opportunity to interact with people without the vrrp-vrrp-ing of a vibrating phone. I realise this isn’t a universally-shared view – the couple on the table next to us were swiping while eating and not looking at each other as if they were characters in a Ray Bradbury book.
Anyway, The Owls. A place which makes mum feel nostalgic and is in a lovely setting.
The stone building with wooden floors and exposed beams fit in the well-maintained grounds which make you start to plan where you would have what in your head if the place belonged to you. But such daydreaming had to be quickly set aside.
I was off driving duty and headed straight to the bar while the others were seated after orders were taken in the waiting area.
Early evening light and chatter flooding into the restaurant make for a welcoming atmosphere, fitting a description I once heard that it was like eating a nice meal in someone’s conservatory.
Options on tap – Tetley’s, Carlsberg and San Miguel – are disappointing, though it was no bother as a bottle of East coast IPA did the trick. While not needing a reference index, the selection of wine looked enough to please most palettes and the fridges were also stocked with cider and Peroni. Bases covered.
The fact the spirits selection is limited can be forgiven – this is a place most would drive to, if the ample parking is to be taken as a suggestion, and drinking Scotch should be done in pairs anyway.
Fine dining The Owls is not, the prices are an indication of that, but as a pleasant experience for a family meal, there is little to complain about. Three courses for £9.20 would probably even make a Yorkshireman willing to open his wallet, and the quality of food definitely surpasses the bill.
This also means having to visit the bar for each round of drinks is also only a small complaint, even when sat upstairs.
I’d hardly had time to tuck my chair in when our food started arriving, with a starter of chicken goujons being just enough to leave me looking forward to my main. The Boss kindly let me have a taste of salmon fishcake, (not too dry, nice flavour) and little brother, who has reached an age where he mostly clears his plate, making sitting next to him no longer a strategic masterstroke, was kind enough to let me at a piece of his cheesy garlic bread. Less crispy than I’d have liked, but it wasn’t my starter and he was happy.
Mains were equally agreeable. The portions aren’t gut-busting – but again, more than enough to be satisfying and great for the price.
I’m a chicken fiend – so opted for Chicken Milanese despite having chicken for starter and very nice it was too when smothered in the generous jug of Napoli sauce and accompanied with the veg brought to the table in separate dishes.
Being known in the family as the Human Bin, I can also say with authority that the Lemon Pepper Chicken, Salmon, and Turkey Dinosaurs were also worthy parts to a midweek family get-together.
Judging by the fact brother-in-law didn’t leave any, I would also assume the Owls Burger hit the spot. He gave a thumbs-up when I timed my question badly and he still had his mouth full.
For a small charge, you can upgrade your afters from the likes of ice cream scoops and creme brulee to sticky toffee pudding, and that being my default, I looked no further.
Spongy, sweet and with just about enough toffee sauce, it was an okay pud, though mine was void of dates. Does that mean it isn’t a proper sticky toff? Discuss.