Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quarter Century

Twenty five years ago today, I married Melanie at St Aldates in Oxford.

So, recently we've been celebrating.

We had a party just over a week ago for family and friends. Having had a look at several places, we selected The Gonville Hotel here in Cambridge, and were very pleased. They gave us a superb lunch (the beef was rare, just as we like it, and they did salad without tomato, just as asked). We had a good buffet in the evening as well, although I have to confess to being rather full and not having much room to do more than sample it. We had a regular cake at lunchtime, and then a pile of cupcakes from Dorringtons in the evening. (They do a cardboard stand, but we bought a rather posh perspex arrangement and it looked stunning.)

This last weekend we went down to Ipswich and stayed for a night at the Salthouse Harbour Hotel, on the waterfront. We've never been to Ipswich (except to change at the railway station) so thought this was a good excuse to go to a decent hotel somewhere different. We stayed in one of the penthouse suites (after 25 years you get to treat yourselves) and, yes, it does come with a telescope. The room was spacious and comfortable, the bed luxurious, although the bath and shower were slightly compact and some of the bathroom fittings a bit the worse for wear. We treated ourselves to a joint massage at Flawless Image as well, the Vespers Drift Away, which was really superb.

Just to be silly we walked along to the cinema to see Johnny English Reborn. An OK film, with some really funny bits mixed in with some quite average scenes. In Cambridge, we prefer Cineworld (over the alternative Vue) because the seats are better and there's a better angle to the seating so you can see over the people in front; the one in Ipswich felt a bit tired and tatty.

Before eating, we had a swift drink at Isaacs, the pub on the waterfront next to the Hotel. A decent pint, although clearly it must get a bit rough - plastic glasses and bouncers at the door.

Dinner at the Hotel was good, but slightly disappointing in that our first two menu choices weren't available (we fancied sharing the Chateaubriand), and they had run out of our first choice wine as well. The scallops for the starter were really good, but slight disappointment with dessert as well - no blue on the cheeseboard. The quality of the evening meal we had was good, no doubt about it, but we were just put out a bit by not getting what we were looking forward to three times.

Here's to the next 25 years!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trying the Guided Busway

The Cambridge Busway opened recently - two years late, and millions of pounds over budget. So, many of us have taken to calling it the misguided busway instead.

A couple of weeks ago we went to St. Ives (to the beer festival, which meant that public transport is an ideal choice). As that's directly served by the busway, it seemed an ideal opportunity to try it out and see what all the fuss is about.

Compared to the old bus service, not much has changed. We got on and off the same vehicles at the same places, and the cost was the same. By and large, I would have said that journey times were pretty similar too. The bus is definitely comfortable, but the ride is anything but. On the regular road it's very smooth, but the guided sections aren't that great. The track is made up in sections, about a bus length each, and as the bus goes across these you get a regular pitching movement that can start to make you feel seasick. I can't imagine this getting better over time - settling is likely to make the joints worse and the track less even.

OK, so the bus is great for getting from a few places in Cambridge to a few locations along the busway. But that's all. It's very much a one-trick pony. It doesn't fit into a larger scheme, or address any of the area's other transport problems, or have any flexibility to evolve to meet changing needs. And that, to my mind, is a fundamental weakness to the whole project. It doesn't do anything to address issues of freight transportation or long-distance traffic, or even local traffic between villages, and isn't going to take any significant traffic away from the A14.

That's over a hundred million pounds of investment, with minimal impact in a very restricted area. Meanwhile, public transport in Cambridge itself remains extremely poor - overpriced, limited choice, and unreliable.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Variations in Travel

Just back from a short week in Munich.

We flew easyJet from Stansted. I'm not personally a fan of budget airlines, because they go to a great deal of trouble to give pretty shoddy service. (I can't believe that not having assigned seating makes any difference at all to their costs, and would make loading the plain much easier and quicker - not to mention being able to track which passengers are on board - I remember on one flight waiting for almost an hour on the tarmac because the number of passengers on the plane didn't match the number who had checked in.)

Why Munich? It was a short trip, so we wanted to fly from Stansted to make it easier. And just looked down the list of destinations. Munich is a fantastic place anyway, and has the advantage that you actually fly there (and not to some random tertiary airport miles away from it).

We've tried a number of different ways to get to the airport. In this particular case, we chose Stansted because it's pretty close to Cambridge. If we get an early flight out of Gatwick then we normally go down the night before and stay locally: then the hotel look after the car and offer a shuttle to and from the terminal, which works out pretty well. (And avoids the not insignificant risk of missing your flight due to being stuck on the M25 for half a day.) But for Stansted we have tried an airport Limo, which works quite well, and in this case just booked a taxi from Panther which is a similar price and just as good.

Going by coach or train would be a reasonable option, but for one thing - actually getting from our house to the bus or train station is a significant issue. It's not particularly cheap and, while it's close it can actually take quite a while. We're on the right side of Cambridge that we can just head straight for Stansted without having to fight into or through Cambridge itself.

Using the total shambles of a bus service to get to the railway station isn't really an option. You're often needing to travel early or late when the bus service doesn't operate, and even when it's supposed to be operating it's a total lottery as to when it might turn up - for our local service that's supposed to run every 10 minutes that mean allowing an extra 45 minutes to be sure you get their on time.

I hate parking at airports. If I drive down myself then I'll normally use valet parking. This isn't really any more expensive and is so much more convenient. It saves typically an hour and is much less hassle.

Having got to Munich we entered a different world. One of fast, cheap, reliable public transport. Well, almost (I'll come to that bit later).

The best way from the airport into Munich is the S-Bahn. And they have this "partner" ticket that allows up to 5 people to travel on the one ticket. From the airport which is a fair way out, that's under 20 euros for unlimited travel around Munich for the whole day. (Just within the centre itself the ticket is about half that price.)

Within Munich there's the S-Bahn itself, which spreads out to a number of suburbs, the underground, trams, and busses. This time we stayed near the main railway station, so just had to choose the right service depending on our destination.

We fell foul of a couple of failures of german efficiency on this trip. The first was that one of the tram lines (the 19) has a huge chunk taken out of the middle of it, while they do maintenance. This doesn't actually cause much of a problem once you've worked it out, but it wasn't obvious - the notice plastered on the stop was in german, and the announcements on the trams were also in german, so we spent a couple of minutes scratching our heads working out what it all meant. And then got back on the tram we had just jumped off which went a slightly longer way round.

The second problem was on one of our day trips. We went out to Herrenchiemsee, which should have involved a simple train ride. Again, more maintenance work, so a simple train ride turned into one train which departed half an hour later than normal, then an unmarked bus through the countryside, then another train (just the random next train, not an actual connection to the bus). We then had a little tourist train at the end, and 3 boat rides to get round the islands. Fortunately the return trip was direct, but I'm not sure we would have liked to have tried the trip out without a tour guide.

Some bus drivers are the same everywhere. We had one occasion when we were waiting at a stop, the bus drove past ignoring us, then decided to stop 20 yards down the road. We run after it, just get to it and he pulls off again.

The flight back was delayed a little, but waiting was a right pain. Some pillock decided to start queueing about 45 minutes before boarding, and of course everyone else then has to queue - because if you don't then you won't get a decent seat or be able to sit together. So you end up standing in a queue that snakes all across the departure lounge, cutting it in two, and blocking access to the shops, for an hour before anybody shows up. (Even worse, the people who started the queue all had speedy boarding and therefore didn't need to queue at all.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brasserie Gérard, Cambridge

We went out to Brasserie Gérard in Cambridge last night, as a meal for Hannah's Birhday.

Now, Brasserie Gérard is one of our favourite restaurants. The service and food are always excellent, and the menu is a good match for our likes.

I started with the tiger prawns. Firm flesh and very tasty, although I think I would have added some more garlic for an extra bit of zing (which is probably one of the reasons you don't want me running a restaurant!). Main course was my usual steak frites - in this case the filet, and it was delicious. I'm not a great fan of the faux filet (aka sirloin) - I prefer either the onglet or the full fillet myself. Then the cheeseboard to finish.

Of course, the really good thing about Brasserie Gérard is that you can use your Tesco vouchers, which makes it extremely affordable!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Prince Albert, Ely

On Friday I went to the Prince Albert in Ely.

There's no website, but it's in the Good Beer Guide and I managed to locate it easily enough. And, almost by accident, managed to find the car park that it's right next to.

I thoroughly enjoyed my pint of Mild. I knew ahead of time that Mild was served, and that was one of the reasons for choosing the Prince Albert to spend that part of my evening in.

I also had sausage, eggs, and chips for dinner. Which was just what I expected - tasty and cheerfully served.

If you compare the food on offer to those pubs which have a much larger investment in food, then the choice isn't that great and the prices aren't the cheapest. I suspect both are because they simply don't do enough food trade to allow economies of scale to kick in. But what you get is of decent quality, and what you would expect from a small local.

I would have loved to stay longer (and have a bit more of the Mild), but had to collect my passengers and head home instead.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Film Review: Robin Hood(s)

We watched the 2010 Robin Hood film (the one with Russell Crowe) the other night.

It's an OK film, but it really didn't work. It didn't really make sense to me in terms of the Robin Hood legend, which they've definitely mangled beyond all recognition. The plot itself is a little confused, and the film seems to lurch unsteadily from one phase to the next. Occasionally I would be impressed by a bit of gritty reality, and then put off by some errant inanity. The other outlaws aren't well fleshed out and seem to be peripheral, while every time I see Marion I think "Galadriel".

Seriously, this would have been a much better film if they had written a story from scratch and not confused it with the Robin Hood legend.

I haven't seen it for a while, but the 1991 version starring Kevin Costner was a much better film. Not only was the story more coherent, but it flowed much better. And there was a dark undercurrent to the film that gave it some backbone.

My favourite Robin Hood has to be Errol Flynn, though. That is a stunner of a film. From 1938, even. It's bright, cheerful, funny, and unashamed fantasy. Yes, certain aspects of it are complete nonsense, but it all fits together to produce a hugely enjoyable whole.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Camden Market

A little while ago we went down to London for the day. After dropping one daughter and boyfriend off at ExCeL we drove into London, heading for Camden which is somewhere we visit every few months.

On a Sunday we park on the Outer Circle of Regent's Park, just round from London Zoo. There's usually plenty of space, parking charges are quite reasonable. And then just walk a few hundred yards across to Camden. (Driving into London on a Sunday works fairly well - not too busy, and no Congestion Charge to worry about, although getting to Regents Park just skirts the Charging Zone.)

This time, while Camden was packed as usual, there were an awful lot of FC Barcelona shirts and Spanish accents in evidence. The fact that they had won the Champions League Final the night before might have had something to do with it, I guess, and they were out in force shopping for souvenirs before heading home.

While I quite like the atmosphere in Camden, and love browsing, I've come to the conclusion that it's not really my scene. Mel and the girls come away with tops, dresses, shoes, and assorted accessories. I've struggled to do anything as simple as finding a good book at one of the 2nd-hand bookshops.

There are huge numbers of places to eat. We often end up at the Ice Wharf, the local Wetherspoons place. It's set back a few yards (nothing more, really) from the hustle and bustle of Camden itself, but seems fairly quiet, and the menu seems to be able to provide for all the fussy eaters in the Tribble family.

Snug Bar and Loch Fyne

With the girls off at the Jarman Centre sleeping in a bivouac, we decided to go out for a meal.

As our meal booking was slightly late, we decided to take an earlier bus (when they're still relatively frequent) and stop off for a drink first. So we called in at the Snug (there are two in Cambridge - their website calls this one on Lensfield Road the Trumpington one, and it really isn't anywhere near Trumpington). It was reasonably quiet, so we had our usual small table with a couple of armchairs at the back, and settled down to a Zombie and West Indies Yellowbird.

Then along the street to Loch Fyne. And it was pretty full, explaining why we were given a slightly later booking. We started off with The Fisherman's Plate, which had a good selection of fish (although a little more bread wouldn't have gone amiss). Mel had the King prawns and scallops, while I went for the Pan-fried fillets of seabass. Both main courses were excellent.

The meal itself was pretty good - what of the downsides? Quality is good, value for money fairly average; the service was of pretty good quality although a little slow, both in taking our order (another waiter had to come and welcome us and explain today's specials) and in the fact that the starter (a cold platter, so no preparation delay) took a significant time to arrive. But they're obviously doing something right as the place was packed out, and usually seems busy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum

We went over to Denny Abbey and Farmland Museum yesterday. We went fairly early as rain was threatened, and were fortunate that the rain stayed away while we were there (although we could see threatening clouds to the west and rain rolled in after we got home).

There was a special event day. It was interesting, and certainly kept us occupied for a couple of hours. I think they could have made more of it though: another vehicle or two would have made a massive difference, and the real ale and cheese were somewhat underwhelming.

I think we found that the special events didn't add all that much to the visit. Which is a bit of a shame because there had clearly been considerable effort put in, but I got the feeling that a little more effort would have made a huge difference.

As a regular visit it's probably not going to be more than half a day, which is slightly tricky given the opening times. But it's interesting and definitely worthwhile.

We actually visited Denny Abbey some years ago. In fact, it must have been quite a while ago. We don't remember the Farmland Museum, so was probably mid '90s, and my recollection of the Abbey buildings was that they were in much worse repair.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cambridge Beer Festival

Last week was the Cambridge Beer Festival. Held as usual on Jesus Green, the usual array of fine ales and other specialities such as mead was available.

At the beginning of the week anyway! I went for a quick lunch (courtesy of the well known Cheese Counter) on Tuesday and Thursday, and we went for an extended lunch and afternoon session on Saturday. When we arrived on Saturday the choice was already starting to look a bit thin, and by the time we left just after 5 on Saturday there really wasn't much left. I guess record attendance helped drink the place dry.

As always, a thoroughly enjoyable event.

A reminder: join CAMRA. Not only do you get in free, and much quicker, but you're supporting a worthy cause.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bury St Edmunds Beer and Food Festival

On Saturday we went to the Bury Beer and Food Festival, held in the Greene King brewery gardens.

It's not a hard-core beer festival, but as a food festival organized by a brewery and held on it's grounds there is some evidence of beer.

There was a marquee with many stalls, and a number of stalls outside. A fair number of sausage stalls, fudge, cake, beer, wine, specialist foods. Oh, and a bar.

They were also running short beer-tasting sessions in a separate marquee. I thoroughly enjoyed those, especially getting to meet the head brewer.

Would we go again? Probably, yes.

There are a few things I think I would like to see improved on. I would like to see more variety of stalls. Yes, quite a few sausage stalls. Very little evidence of cheese, which I thought odd. Overall, a little lack of diversity (for example, nothing like the La Hogue farm shop or Chilford Hall vineyard). The beer-tasting sessions went well, but there wasn't anything else in terms of displays or presentations. There's not an enormous amount of advertising (or even a proper website or signs) but, to be honest, it's on a pretty small site and I'm not sure they could have got many more people in.

The Plough, Fen Ditton

I went to The Plough in Fen Ditton today. Our department had one of our managers over, so we went as a group.

I was quite impressed by the lunch. I've been there a few times over the years, and recently it's been a bit variable. On the previous couple of visits I felt it had gone too upmarket, being extremely pretentious and trying too hard, but they now seem to have got a much better balance.

The menu has good variety. Yes, there are burgers and standard pub fare, but there is also good variety and some more adventurous dishes.

Presentation is pretty good, quantity is just about right, and the quality of the food was excellent. The king prawns in particular were heroic in stature.

Of particular note is the fixed-price lunch menu. Two courses for under a tenner is extremely good value, and there's a pretty good choice as well. I had the whitebait to start and the breaded pork loin for the main. And I thoroughly enjoyed both.

To summarize: good food, decent choice, well presented, good value for what it is (and the fixed-price menu is exceptional value), and sensible portions. Definitely not basic, but not overly pretentious either.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Newmarket Races

As I get older, it's difficult to think of anything I might need or want as a present, so I've started to think about doing something interesting rather than getting yet more socks.

Last year I had a flight in an antique biplane for Duxford.

This year, we decided to have a day out at Newmarket Races.

We've lived near to Newmarket, the home of racing, for about two decades and, while we've visited the town a few times (and even stayed overnight at a lovely boutique hotel, Garrads) we've never been to a race. So, time to change that!

They do a variety of Party Packs. We went for the Ultimate Party Pack, which includes a proper meal at the Bistro. We got there early, had a little look round to get our bearings, and then went off to the Bistro to have some lunch. We both went for the steak, and it, like the meal as a whole, was excellent. One thing to note: the place can get busy, and they will put small groups together to fill up the tables. (I think this is an excellent idea, by the way - it keeps the queues short, the restaurant buzzing, and you might get some interesting people to talk to.)

We then went off to place a few bets, and did the circuit. Check the horses out at the Pre-Parade Ring; move across to the Parade Ring; and then find somewhere to watch the race (we sat up in the millennium grandstand, stood in the premier enclosure, and watched one from the rails right next to the finishing post). Then (hopefully!) back to the Winners' Enclosure before collecting your winnings.

There were 7 races. We got two winners and 4 places, only drawing a blank in the 1000 Guineas itself. It's just luck, but we managed to get almost all our money back. We went for the Tote, which seemed to be simple enough.

The weather was fine - dry and sunny, a bit breezy in exposed places - and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. And we will definitely go again.

It wasn't as busy as I expected. Sure, there were lots of people, but it never felt crowded, and the place itself was quite a bit smaller than I thought it would be.

There are a few comments, largely about organization. It's not clear to me that the £20 difference between the Premier and Ultimate Party Packs on the Premier race days is worth it. Basically, you get either the starter or dessert in the restaurant, so it's actually worth less than £10. Go for the Premier instead of the Ultimate, and put the money you save towards something else. (And actually check whether the pack will save you money.) Transport is a bit tricky, especially if you're going to have a drink or two and don't want to drive - there wasn't anything viable via public transport on the Sunday, so we took a taxi both ways. You would think that they would take more effort to organize transport, especially given the traffic jams on race days. And the website could do with just a bit of work to take it from average to good - it has all the content you need, but it can be tricky to find stuff and navigate around it.

Black Bull, Sawston

We went down to the Black Bull in Sawston yesterday. Went down on the bus, specially for their 1st Annual Beer Festival.

We weren't disappointed. A decent range of excellent beers, all the ones I tried were very good, and a small barbecue and hog roast (although we had some of the bar snacks as we were getting a bit peckish).

Staff were very friendly, and there was a very good atmosphere, so highly recommended.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Early Summer

The weather I've experienced recently has been varied and interesting, to say the least.

I was over in Ann Arbor, near Detroit, recently, and it was a typical English spring: cool, damp, the odd flurry of snow, and a little sunshine. Meanwhile, back home in England itself there was glorious sunshine.

I got a little sunburnt the day I came back, falling asleep in the back garden with a bit of jetlag.

While we've had some poor days, generally Spring has been good. We've already had two or three barbecues out in the back garden.

The downside to all this is that I've had a much stronger dose of hay fever this year. I keep hoping to grow out of it, and last year did in fact suffer far less. So I'm hoping that I'll cope much better with summer proper, when it arrives, and can take advantage of some glorious sunny weather rather than hiding inside with a handkerchief for company.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Are Hotel Star Ratings Meaningful?

I don't travel all that much, but do go away on business a couple of times a year and we often have a couple of stays away in a hotel each year. Over the years, I've ended up visiting a whole range of hotels of various ratings and price ranges.

And one thing that's become abundantly clear is that there's at best a tenuous relationship between the quality of the hotel, the price you pay, and its mysterious star rating.

Looking at quality against price, it's certainly not the case in general that better quality costs more. While within a certain locality, that may be true, but across the board I tend to see the opposite trend: increased competition tends to simultaneously drive down prices and increase quality.

And what of this star rating? In my experience that tends to correlate with size. Larger hotels offer more services, and that tends to be reflected in the rating. But it's just a measure of quantity, not of quality.

I've stayed in large hotels that feel welcoming and comforting, and those that are cold and mechanical. The same is true of smaller establishments (although recently we've tended to stay in more up-market boutique hotels that have tended to give vastly superior levels of service).

The star rating of itself is almost never a guide to how good a stay you're going to have. If anything, looking at the star rating is harmful, as it prejudices your expectations, which may be why I've been underwhelmed when I've stayed at four or five star (so-called luxury) hotels.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Rosemary, Falmouth

We recently went down to an open day at University College Falmouth.

It's quite a trek: we decided to go down the day before, taking it relatively easy, although we just flogged it up the motorway on the way back (flat out, motorway speed, no delays, five and a half hours). So we needed to find somewhere to stay.

We went to The Rosemary, and we can thoroughly recommend it. The rooms are a generous size, well equipped, and comfortable. We had the Hedford Suite, which is at the top of the house, allowing the girls to be in a separate twin room. It's in a quiet area, not on top of the town, but close and convenient, and we had no trouble parking on the street outside. There's a pleasant sitting room, with some games, and a honesty bar that allowed us to have a drink before turning in. Breakfast was comprehensive and filling - we usually fill up at breakfast and just snack in the day.

Fleur De Lis Inn, Stoke Sub Hamdon

On the way down to Falmouth recently, we stopped off for lunch at the Fleur De Lis Inn, in Stoke Sub Hamdon, Somerset.

We hadn't really got a formal plan in place, just the idea that as lunchtime came up, we would look for something off the main road to eat and rest for a while, and that was where we ended up.

And it was a good choice. The staff were friendly, the menu covered all the bases, we asked for minor variations that weren't on the menu and were given exactly what we wanted, the quality and quantity of the food were excellent.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sopwell House

Taking advantage of the girls being away with Guides for a couple of days, we stayed at Sopwell House last night.

We first visited the Verulamium Museum. I would describe this museum as scoring very highly on quality, although there's slightly less to see than I expected: we spent about an hour there. We walked into St Albans for a bite to eat (finding that many of the pubs we passed seemed to have menus that were a little upmarket for our taste - we just wanted something basic to share, so ended up in one of the Wetherspoon's.). We walked back through past the Cathedral and through the park.

The hotel itself is pretty good. (You would hope so, as it's pretty expensive!)

Our room was comfortable and spacious, although the hotel is pretty large and it was a bit of a trek. One odd thing was the in-room tea and coffee facilities. Many of the electrical sockets were of the old round-pin variety - plugging the kettle in meant putting it on the floor in an awkward place. Also (and this is a common failing of many hotels) there was basically enough supplies for one cup, and that's assuming you don't both have a sweet tooth.

We swam in the pool. There's quite a lot of refurbishment of the spa area taking place, so changing facilities were a bit of a temporary oddness. It was pretty busy, but that's not really much of excuse for running out of robes (and, while I'm on the subject, no robes in our room either).

We treated ourselves to the Valentine's special dinner. That was really very good. We were given a glass of bubbly and canapes beforehand, and all three primary courses were excellent. My only criticism was that they were a little slow in taking our order and bringing the starters (and they seemed a little disorganised - we were asked twice whether we wanted any water and which wine we wanted).

There was clearly some fairly major function in the hotel at the same time - it sounded to already be in full swing as we came down for dinner but there was a continual stream of new arrivals in black tie or extravagant dresses coming to join the party.

Breakfast was disappointing. Stocks of some items were running low and weren't getting replenished promptly - some items were stale as a result. Overall, the choice wasn't all that great. I found the cooked breakfast to be incredibly bland - potatoes, sausages, eggs all had very little taste.

Melanie wanted a spa treatment so I had a massage as well. I can definitely recommend this. The refurbishment works impacted this as well, to the extent that they were actually using rooms at the other end of the hotel, so we all trooped back and forth in groups.

Overall, an excellent stay, but they do need to improve the breakfast quite a bit.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nottingham: Riverbank

Went to The Riverbank in Nottingham today.

It was almost excellent, let down around the edges a little.

Let's start with the strong point: the food. This was really good. I had leek and potato soup to start, and really enjoyed it despite not being a great fan of soups. Then the roast sirloin of scotch beef, nice and pink, very tender. Followed by pistachio & almond cake, which was quite intriguing, and was well balanced by the rhubarb sorbet.

My fellow diners also seemed to enjoy themselves, even the children.

One thing I did like was that the restaurant were happy to mix items off the children's menu with the regular menu. Especially with fussy teenagers who don't necessarily like a full starter, this worked out well.

Pricing wise, it was pretty good value as well.

On the weaker side, just a few irritations:

The meals seemed to take a little while to arrive. Yes, I know they need to be prepared but my impression was that we seemed to wait just a little too long each time.

Parking could be problematic. This is definitely out of season, slightly out of peak hours, and the place certainly wasn't full. Yet there was no parking free - we had to park along the road. I hate to think what it's going to be like when it's busy.

The menu needs a couple of tweaks: they need to keep the website up to date so it matches what's actually on offer. And it's not clear what's actually covered on their "early bird" menu and what has a supplement (specifically, the steak: our reading of the menu was that the steak wasn't included in the offer and there was a supplement for the beef, whereas the supplement was for the steak and it was included in the offer).

So, in summary, excellent food at an excellent price, as long as you're not in a hurry or mind parking down the street.