Are you looking forward to going out for Easter Sunday lunch? Have you skipped breakfast so as not to spoil it? Have you sent a text reconfirming the table you booked two months ago?
Did you give your credit card details when you booked, just in case you die, so your beneficiaries can still be charged? Will you arrive bang on time, as they ‘need the table back’ at 2.30pm? (What do they ‘need’ the table for, exactly? If it’s for another customer, then what on earth are you?)
On arrival at the gastropub you’ve drip-fed your salary into for 20 years, are you still asked to surrender your debit card to be slotted in a little plastic pouch in case you make a run for it before the apple crumble, assembled (cooked is too strong a word) a week before at a factory in Solihull and bunged for too long into a microwave, meaning its filling is molten?
A gang of friends eating at a gastro-pub (file photo)
It’s no wonder we have now reached peak casual dining. Several big-name restaurant chains, including Jamie’s Italian, Prezzo, Byron and Carluccio’s, are tightening their waistbands, having found it almost impossible to make a return on sites that might cost £1.5 million to open (yet they still can’t afford proper tablecloths; strange).
These chains cite rising bills for wages, rates and raw ingredients as reasons for their demise, but we all know better, don’t we?
Going out to eat was once a treat for a special occasion. As a child I only ever ate in a restaurant with my parents once: fish and chips, in Frinton-on-Sea. I wasn’t allowed pudding, instead I was told to ‘get a cornet’ on the way back to our beach towel.
Eating out this Easter Sunday could prove a more unenjoyable experience than expected says Liz Jones
So prolific are restaurants now, it’s the home-cooked meal that’s the novelty. Abigail’s Party would never be written today: they would have all met at a Giraffe.
I’ve just had another 1970s flashback. My very first job was on a glossy called Entertaining At Home, but who on earth does that now, when we can all crowd into Pizza Express and be handed menus as large as billboards, bills as big as Brexit?