Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Bar That Time Forgot

Whilst on a mini-break in Cornwall last month Big Man, Carb Addict and I ate in The Bar That Time Forgot. I'm not going to say where exactly it was because that wouldn't be fair but if you're a Cornish maid you may well recognise MUST be unique in that part of the world, if not the whole of the UK.
We were initially enticed in by the handwritten signs advertising delicious home cooked food. Plus it was cold, rainy and we were famished after our drive from the South. Also there were others inside eating which is always a good sign in my book. When we got inside we were a little taken aback by the cheerlessness of the place....chilly, damp and staffed by a bevy of  'Prisoner: Cell Block H' lookalikes. You've probably seen the type - one had the chamois leather complexion of the confirmed smoker, with hair of a similar hue; another had the jet black hair and hatchet face of a Mafia wife; and the gang of them ranged themselves in a row in front of the bar like some kind of gender-swap 'Usual Suspects' poster. The bar itself had that genteely-decaying, horse brass-laden, faux-country pub kind of decor that always reminds me of somewhere you'd see in a WWII film - the sort of place where jolly Yank grunts are set upon verbally by a morose, lachrymose Yorkshireman whose friends tell them, "don't tha' lissen to oul' Enoch, 'is Vernon never come back from Dunkirk an 'e's not been't same since". It was only slightly less welcoming than The Slaughtered Lamb but at least people didn't stop talking when we entered....

It became apparent when we read the menu that we weren't in for a fine dining experience. Any eating place that has a section on the menu headed 'Continental Corner' that includes Lasagne (!) and Chicken Curry (!!) is clearly stuck in a time warp....don't they know that curry is officially the national dish of the UK these days? And that lasagne is the go-to ready meal for a whole generation of students, shift-workers and divorced men? The table mats still had the original telephone number on them (Cornwall 2167 or something similar) and the vinegar came in those kind of cut glass mini decanter-type receptacles. It was absolutely, unwittingly vintage. I'd say that there are places in London that spend a fortune trying to get that kind of authenticity.
Sadly the old style vibe didn't extend to the prices. Big Man had steak (which he enjoyed; Carb Addict ate all of his fish and chips but who can say what he thought of the meal - certainly not him; and I had a burger with chips but it was the kind of burger you get in Turkey or somewhere - a compressed meat patty of uncertain origin) and he asked for mayonnaise. When the bill came we were shocked, in an incredulous kinda way, to see we'd been charged 30p for the tablespoon of mayo in a tiny dish they'd sniffily brought us. I suppose if we will ask for these new-fangled condiments what can we expect? The culinary adventure cost us about £32 but on the bright side it was a source of lame jokes ('Some people are going in, let's warn them not to ask for mayo!') every time we passed it for the rest of the holiday.

Have you been there or anywhere like it?


  1. This has to be the funniest post you've written - why aren't you being paid to write?
    My ex's parents would only eat at the '2 meals for a fiver' type places, despite being loaded.
    I shared many a lacklustre meal with them over a period of 3 years. Don would say 'now you have anything you want Lucy'. "Hmm, chicken tikka, lasagne, scampi or gammon - tough choice".
    Don would either have a mixed grill or gammon every time.
    One particular place was absolutely dire. I opted for beef dinner one day (why, I don't know). The beef was like brown sandwich ham, and the veg was raw. I complained.
    "What it is love, the veg comes in a bag, so we can't tell if its soft or hard when its cooked".
    Great explanation.
    Don was over the moon though. He'd jokingly asked for egg and pineapple with his gammon. He got both.
    "We'll come here again, lovely staff'.

  2. This really is funny! I'm dying to know where it is! I've never been in a pub quite like that... ok I've never been in a pub like that for more than 30 seconds before backing out. Despite working in one that would seem similar. I would frequently roll my eyes at anyone who wanted coffee or tea and tell them I couldn't leave the bar. We also didn't do anything but a Roast on Sunday. Locals got preferential treatment.
    Lucy's story is also hilarious!

  3. Pleeease do tell at least which area it was in! I can think of many a pub like that in Cornwall!! (It wasn't the Bugle Inn was it?? I went there once and we were the only people in there except two old guys at the bar and a lovely fluffy dog).

  4. yep, you'll have to tell which pub, most pubs are up their own arse 'gastro pubs' - which means no one can afford them, I love the 'continental corner' pml!

  5. Hahahaha....this is brilliant! The only place I've been which may have been on a par was a pub in the Brecon Beacons area which my then boyfriend (now husband) and I went in on the way back from a fairly disastrous visit to Carreg Cennen castle. It was Sunday, full of men only (obviously hiding whilst their wives cooked Sunday lunch) and went silent when we walked in. Mr FHCS made me go to the bar - worried he'd be lynched for his English accent - so I walked past a load of blokes who'd started their conversation again. One swore, and his mate looked at me, turned back to the guy who'd sworn and said "Watch yew language mun, there's cunt about!" Aah, chivalry.


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