Restaurant reviews by Justin Tanner, our retired food critic who won’t watch Match of the Day now women are on it
WAS there a Britain before there was a Wetherspoons? Technically yes, because it was only founded in 1979 and fucked if I remember it before ’92. Spiritually? No.
It’s up there with the Royal family, chippy teas and shite summers for me. If Tim Martin were leading the Tories they’d never lose an election again.
The limp-wristed liberals love to slag it off, sitting in their pop-up bars where imported craft ale costs a fucking fortune, but that’s because they’re out of touch with the ordinary working man who needs a Full English and a couple of vodka oranges at 9am.
I’ve heard all the whines. ‘The telly’s always on!’ Well, where isn’t it? Not at my place. ‘The loos are miles away!’ Stops the junkies, pet. Anyway, it’s nice to have the walk, test how pissed you are, and you can pop your pint on the cistern when urinating.
So, like the Crusaders to the Holy Land, like Livingstone to darkest Africa, like an RAF Lancaster loaded with bombs to the Ruhr valley; like all those British heroes I’m off to Spoons.
As standard, it’s full of my kind of people. Proper English blokes, white, middle-aged and mostly divorced. Granted, they’re a bit rough, but even in paradise there’s the occasional shower of rain.
I get my first pint in – at less than three quid a time, the first of many – and prise the menu open to peruse what I’ll dine like a king on tonight.
All the greats are there, like a Who’s Who of English culinary superiority. Fish and chips. Scampi and chips. Wiltshire cured ham, egg and chips. Burgers, with or without chips. Bangers and mash. And the cornerstone of British cuisine, chicken tikka masala.
There’s a ‘vegan chilli’ which I’d personally rather flick a rubber band on my testicles than endure, but that illustrates how inclusive and non-judgmental it is here. If some twat wants to chow down on shit best suited to a pig’s trough, that’s their prerogative.
I’m torn between the BBQ chicken melt and my usual beefburger, so pop to the bar and get a couple more pints in while I decide. Might as well stock up, as it’s the usual delay getting served and they’ve got funny about cash, but good things come to those who wait.
If more restuarants understood that food tastes better drunk, they might have a chance of equalling Spoons. By the time my burger arrives it’s like a blessing from the Lord: hot, cheesy, almost perfectly tasteless.
It’s devoured in minutes, along with the complementary pint, and to soothe my burned tongue there’s ice cream with toffee and Belgian chocolate sauce. Show me a pud more British.
‘Fucking Henry the Eighth would have loved that,’ I say out loud after burping. Seven pints in and fully satisfied, though the off-duty dinner ladies on the next table are looking worrying attractive so I must be wrecked.
Meal complete, full of ale, I get up to stagger home. There is a heaven on this earth, in the converted banks, cinemas and post office on every High Street. I hope I go there when I die.