‘Gordon Ramsay would have a field day’ - The Old Feathers at Framingham Pigot food review
PUBLISHED: 09:21 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:06 05 June 2019
The Old Feathers at Framingham Pigot bills itself as serving comfort food, but Nick Richards found the restaurant lacking in atmosphere
Like a mission statement booming out from the plastic pages of their brown faux-leather menus, The Old Feathers states it serves home-style comfort food.
That may be a big draw to some people, but for me if I'm going out I want something better than I'd rustle up at home.
There's also an apology on the menu from the chef who says he's too busy working wonders in the kitchen to come out and say hello.
To me that sounds like a strange thing to put on a menu.
But then my whole experience eating at The Old Feathers, around three miles from Norwich's southern bypass was a tad odd. It's the sort of place that Gordon Ramsay would have a field day with in his TV show Kitchen Nightmares for it makes for a confusing dining adventure and, in my opinion, it's a rebranding exercise waiting to happen.
I must say at this point that there was nothing majorly wrong with the staff (friendly) or the food (filling) and there were other diners there who seemed to be enjoying their meals, so this is just my independent view of my unannounced visit.
Other people I have spoken to since have said they have eaten at The Old Feathers and enjoyed it, but I will explain my visit.
There's a modern entrance to the place which has recently been built and a ramp (handy for pushchairs and wheelchairs) leading into a spacious entrance with nice clean toilets and a cloakroom.
But turn the corner and the confusion begins.
I took my auntie there for lunch and we hadn't booked. We stood in the empty bar area for around two minutes as the staff struggled to spot us. To the left were four dining booths while on the right is the main dining area.
We wandered into a large conservatory with a thick red carpet and chose a table in the corner. It felt dated straight away with black leather chairs and a table that stained when water was spilt on it. All the other customers appeared to be over 60 and the room felt warm, stale and airless.
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I asked if I could open a window but was told I couldn't because it would let the flies in.
Tinny music pumped out of the speakers as we perused the vast menu in those brown PVC binders.
We ordered drinks from the menu which were reasonably priced - a lime and soda (£1.30) for my auntie and a pint of Kronenbourg (£3.90) for myself. There are plenty of beers on tap including Adnams, Fosters, Woodforde's Wherry and Aspall cider plus plenty of bottled beers and the usual array of spirits and wines you'd expect to find in a pub.
The menu's home-style comfort food is clearly aimed at a clientele of a certain age, for it's far from contemporary. Essentially, it's the sort of thing you would have ordered in 1979 rather than 2019.
There's a prawn cocktail with Marie-Rose sauce (£5.75) and tomato soup with cream and croutons (£4.95) on the starter menu while the main courses include steak and kidney suet pudding (£11.95), plaice in a creamy parsley sauce (£11.95) and salmon poached in wine (£13.95).
There are also a chargrill menu with a range of burgers (around £11.95), rib dishes and steaks plus a range of baguettes (£7.95).
I was eager to order something from the specials board and my eyes lit up when I saw the star dish was 'trio of fish' (£13.95). I love eating fish at a restaurant though was a little curious to see how this would be served. It arrived on a plate with some salad covered in retro cress and five buttered new potatoes in a white bowl with a teaspoon. I had a piece of salmon, haddock and plaice which had been grilled in garlic butter. The salmon tasted like it had been smoked. I enjoyed it but it wasn't really the healthiest as it all tasted very buttery. It came with a bowl of vegetables which were overcooked and looked like they'd been microwaved. Unfortunately they were served in a dish with a large chip (not the edible kind) on the side.
My auntie ordered the full rack of baby back pork ribs (£13.95) and was presented with very tender ribs covered in a very mild sauce. She said that, in her opinion, it tasted pre-packed. It was a good portion with 10 ribs but was too mild and she felt it was strange that she had to ask for a finger bowl when she was clearly going to get her fingers covered in sauce.
We moved on to the dessert menu, all priced at £5.50 with choices including chocolate cheesecake, key lime cheesecake, banana ice cream sundae, apple and black cherry crumble. There is also that 80s classic, cheese and biscuits (£7.95).
I ordered a lemon tart with ice cream which, although nicely presented, was zingless, the pastry was damp and bendy and it looked like it had come out of a packet. My auntie spotted a chocolate sundae (£4.75) on the menu which she said was nothing out of the ordinary.
That's my honest review.
The food is filling and plentiful but there's a lot of butter and cream and there was cress everywhere. I don't think I've eaten cress since the Berlin Wall came down but you'll find plenty of it here.
I feel the pub is missing out on a trick - if they really want to offer home-style comfort food that is a throwback to the past, why not give the whole restaurant a 70s or 80s makeover and introduce appropriate décor? That would give it an ironic draw to the casual punter.
They could have a field day with old music, posters and even the crockery and menus and really celebrate that old-style home-cooked comfort food that they are delivering, rather than offering a restaurant in a pub that's just very had to classify.
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