Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review: Eats of Eden in Bourne End Flowerland

I really don't want to give this review because it's a bad one and I have been really hoping this place would be a success. But it's not. 

Eats of Eden has both a cafeteria and a farm shop set-up within the Flowerland garden centre. I don't have any complaints about the farm shop and often buy bits and bobs there. In fact, I heartily recommend the great selection of bread from the farm shop. This review is exclusively about the cafeteria. 

The atmosphere is quite bright and cheery inside the shop. It's well-lit and has nice solid tables with wooden chairs to eat at. There are magazines and newspapers on the back wall that you can borrow and read whilst enjoying your meal or beverage and there is a children's play area too. Unfortunately, other than a table and chairs and one push-the-beads-along-the-wire type toy, there is nothing else in the play area. There is a black chalkboard, but no chalk. There is a TV, but I've never seen it on. There is a big plastic bucket that at one time might have contained toys, but now is empty. It's a bit of a shame because the area is nicely set up, but it didn't hold Lena's attention long with nothing to do there. 

The service from the actual personnel is a bit lackluster. Twice I have stood in front of the hot food and had to wait several minutes to be served, despite staff having seen me. When served, everyone was pleasant enough. They have an assortment of different sauces all easily available and on Sundays when they are busy, I have seen pitchers of water and glasses out for customers to help themselves. However, several of the sauces had a crust on them like they had been out for a very long time. I'm sure they probably refrigerate them overnight, but it wouldn't kill them to put some plastic wrap on top to stop them from getting crusty and looking so unappealing. 

The real let-down is the food. It's very mediocre. I wouldn't call it bad really, but it's institutional food. The first time I ate a meal there was on a Sunday and it was a bit late, so I thought perhaps we were just unlucky with the timing. The last time though, we were the first people to be served for lunch and it was the same. I had salmon the last time and it was dry, even though as I said, we were the first people served for lunch. The side dishes of broccoli, carrots and chips (I will give them credit for having 6 various sides to choose from and a help-yourself philosophy to them) were very so-so as well. Even Lena, usually a chip fiend, left a couple untouched. It wasn't so bad that I didn't finish it, as I said, it was just mediocre. But at the prices they are charging, I can go somewhere else and either get pretty good food for just a pound or two more, or no worse food for a pound or two less. 

So my rating:
Ambiance: 2 For a cafeteria, it's nicely set-up. Shame about the children's area.
Service: 1 At a cafeteria, I expect a bit faster service and the crusts on the open sauces isn't nice. 
Food: 1 Edible, but that's it. And overpriced for what it is.

So a poor rating of 4 out of 9. We won't be eating there again. Perhaps a coffee/tea and cake are within the realm of possibility, but certainly no more hot food. And if I just need something to eat, I'd rather go next door to the farm shop and get some of their nice bread or pastries. 

Friday, February 06, 2009

Snow in a Mild Climate

This week it has been snowing all over in the UK. And this is actual snow, not just what Canadians would dismiss as dust. Monday, February 2, was a big downfall, followed by another load overnight to wake up to on Thursday and now today it's snowing again as I type. It's pretty warm still, hovering around zero, so it's not going to last forever. But it was enough snow to build a snowman on Monday and it's been cold enough that until yesterday that he held his shape (although he did look like he was doing the Limbo as the head tilted backwards with the melt). Here he is in his full glory:

It snows so infrequently in the southern parts of the UK, and it usually melts so quickly, that the country is really unprepared for snowfall. I understand that it's a silly waste of resources to have a fleet of sanders and snowplows when they get used at most once a year, more likely every 3 to 4 years. None the less, I find how the whole country shuts down because of snow quite amusing. There was about 6-7cm when we woke up on Monday morning and every school in the area closed. If that were the amount of snow that would close schools where I grew up, I would have stayed home from mid-November until April. 

I also know I'm the only Canadian or North American who lives on my fairly long street, as our sidewalk was the only one that was swept clear of snow first thing in the morning on the days it snowed. It must be ingrained in my system. I belong to a mail group for parents in the area and there was a mail this morning from another Canadian woman, suggesting to people that they clear their sidewalks of snow as well. I wrote back to her as I thought it was funny that all the Canadians in the area were out there cleaning snow. She said she received several responses from Canadians and Germans, all who had cleaned off their walks and were the only ones to do so. This made me laugh even more, that the Germans did it too. The two countries I've lived in previously have obviously had some impact on my behaviour.

So if you still have snow in front of your house here in England, "be nice and remove your ice". I'm sure everyone walking past will appreciate it.