If I wanted my dinner off a spade I'd eat in the bloody shed: The gammon food critic visits the gastropub

Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who’s seen these immigrants being given flatscreen TVs personally

GASTROPUB? As in gastroenteritis? Have these pretentious bastards thought this fucking through? 

Still, one of the major problems with restaurants is they stop you getting pissed at your own pace. If a gastropub’s willing to serve me three pints per course, I’m interested.

So when I’m invited to a reunion with old work colleagues I agree to turn up once they’ve promised the bill gets split six ways no matter what. They’re all rolling in it, I’ve seen their poncy holidays on Facebook.

I’m a pint in when they arrive, cheek-kissing like we’re in a Paris bistro not a boozer with big ideas. The conversation is boring as fuck from the off. Who cares if your kid’s doing well at school? Bloody should be, you’re paying three grand a tem for the fucker.

I’ve downed my third jar before they’ve finished recounting how Adam’s in London with a top accountancy firm and Portia’s one-woman show got a great notice in the Scotsman. Shit piss-up this is turning out to be. And then the food arrives and dear Lord, what is this bollocks?

There’s king prawns in tempura batter – I presume that’s to distinguish it from permanent batter – and a sweet chilli dip. The dip’s OK, though it’d be better suited to lamb doner. But why have they served it on a plank? This isn’t a building site.

Then there’s halloumi fries, which are squeaky cheese fish fingers, pulled pork in miniature Yorkshire puddings the size of teacups, and a load of other shit designed to deliberately disorientate the pissed.

And these people, these bastards I used to work with driving their Chelsea tractors, scarf it down like it’s normal. What’s happened to them? It can’t just be the drugs.

Tim, not for the first time, tells us all he’s vegan. Really mate. As if it’s not the first thing I remembered when I saw your knobhead face. Orders the dirty vegan burger, like that’s not a contradiction in terms.

My pasta carbonara arrives – it’s still bacon and eggs after a fashion, I suppose – and it arrives on a spade. Have they run out of Romanians to wash the plates? I drain the pint it arrives with in one.

Not that anyone else’s meal looks an improvement. Skyscraper burgers, triple-cooked fries, beer-battered cod. Not an item on the menu the chef hasn’t had his dick in, and I’m not sure that’s a figure of speech.

I’m nine pints down by the time we settle up. They could bring the bill by drone for all I care. I count out my share to the penny, because I’ve been ripped off enough, and stagger outside for the three-mile walk home through a load of pissing countryside.

If you want to play at pubs, get yourself a Fisher-Price barman kit. Drinking’s a serious business. I’m reporting these bastards for food poisoning.

Sign up now to get
The Daily Mash
free Headlines email – every weekday

Let's move to the land of candy floss, scavenging seagulls and infamous sex offenders! This week: Scarborough 

What’s it about?

Scarborough is the classic British seaside town: shit. Buckets, spades, decaying Victorian attractions, hammered tourists and noisy rip-off arcades.

Neighbouring towns call it Scarbados, which is a damning indictment in itself. It’s on the Yorkshire coast and the North Sea, meaning it’s wet, cold and full of Northern Tories.

Crime is an impressive 85 per cent above the national rate for England, lending its seediness an edge of thrilling danger, but worry not – it’s mainly violence and sexual assault. Actually maybe worry a bit.

Any good points?

The main drag of shops and amusements is situated on an armpit-shaped bay, cheerfully walked by visitors until the attractions dwindle to nothing and they have to turn back.

And while it remains in the middle of fucking nowhere, it is the perfect day trip for major Northern cities known for their friendly, open male populations. A Mecca for all the roughest, neck-tattooed bastards from Newcastle and Sunderland to the north and Hull and Leeds to the South. An army of shirtless, sunburnt scrotes, adding an air of menace and Strongbow Dark Fruits to the seaside charm.

Despite being a coastal town, there’s nowhere famous for fish ’n’ chips. Instead wooden shacks on sell defrosted mini prawns, cockles and unlabelled, miscellaneous pink stuff formed into the shape of lobster tails.

The only less impressive array of marine animals in the area is at the Sea Life Centre, which is where all the other Sea Life Centres send their most feeble animals to die. Like a hospice where you get to pet a starfish.

And for ice-cream, why not buy your kid a Lemon Top? A local favourite of vanilla Mr Whippy topped with a tangy squirt of sorbet. It’s never caught on anywhere else, because it’s fucking disgusting.

Beautiful landscape

Enjoy beautiful views of the shite-brown sea in your top coat, scarf and woolly hat, because chances are you’ll be freezing your tits off. If you do hit a sunny day, the beaches will be packed and a naked, screaming toddler will run over and piss on your towel.

Travel the rest of the city on a £5 open-top Beachcomber bus tour, which seems good value until you realise it’s the seafront you’ve seen already, a few mini-roundabouts and dangerous fairground rides playing intense techno.

On the other hand it’s near the North Yorks Moors, Dalby Forest, and the far superior seaside town of Whitby. So if you like going to places that are near better places, it’s ideal.

Hang out at…

The arcades. 2p waterfalls and women on mobility scooters putting their benefit money back into the local economy. Or, once you’ve bought tokens, give the kids 50 seconds on a rickety ride painted with copyright infringing imagery of Peppa Pig or Buzz Lightyear.

There’s the Stephen Joseph Theatre, home of bedroom farce-master Alan Ayckbourn and one of the few old Odeons in the UK which is not a Wetherspoons. Don’t worry. There’s still a Wetherspoons.

Or there are gigs at the Open Air Theatre, passed by the North Bay Railway steam trains, which is stuck in an unforgiving loop of artists your mum likes. Alfie Boe. Olly Murs. Olly Murs again. Britney Spears once played there, which would be kitsch and cool if the locals could shut the fuck up about it.

Where to buy

Houses and apartments with a sea view are in high demand among the kind of Londoners who didn’t raise quite enough selling their flats to move to nicer seaside towns in Sussex.

Sir Jimmy Savile lived here for years and was buried here, with his coffin at a 45-degree angle so he could see the sea. Yeah. His gravestone’s not there anymore. His corpse is. Sit with that for a while and decide whether you want to become a resident.

The pandemic housing boom’s over and all those Londoners are stuck here vaguely wondering when the gentrification’s happening. South Bay’s still the nice bit but North Bay’s cheaper. Barrowcliff is very affordable. Remember that crime rate from earlier?

From the streets:

Darren Smith, aged 52, waltzer operator: “It’s a fucking dump, but at least it’s not full of fucking goths. Unlike Whitby.”

Julian Cook, aged 43: “It seemed such a lovely idea, living by the sea, working remotely, leaving dirty old London behind. I didn’t know. I wish to God I’d known.”