I have been to the Green Tea House before, and needed to find a local place to take out some guests, so thought its quirky atmosphere might appeal to them.
It is usually written up locally as being one of the better places to go - not that we have a lot of options - but we didn't want to have to drive too far so again that was a deciding factor.
The bistro evening meal was a huge disappointment. Maybe the lunchtime more simple meals work very well - and account for the good reputation it appears to have - but the evening options just didn't work. We felt much the same the last time we ate in the evening at the Bistro but thought maybe it was worth another try, given the limited options available.
Of the starters, the thai crabcakes were very bland, with limited flavour of crab and no spicing, the haggis fritters ok but nothing special. the filo basket was the best of the bunch.
The main courses were ok, the game pie pastry was burnt but the filling was tasty, the filo with trout was considered ok by our guest. The spinach and ricotta lasagne was disgusting, the sauce had split and it looked like something you would find on a street after a busy Saturday night. It was very greasy but the main thing was its appearance, with an oily film on the edge of the plate, and lumps of separated cheese and a runny sauce which wasn't binding it together. As you also 'eat with your eyes' it was very offputting. The flavour was ok if you could ignore how yuck it looked.
No one came to ask if the meal was ok, but eventually it was noticed that the lasagne was not being eaten - and the owner admitted that sometimes the cream and ricotta sauce splits - then why send it out? If you know there is a problem with the dish, either offer something else or recook it. But don't send it out to see if the customer will accept or reject it. Or take it off the menu if it cannot be produced consistently. While we didn't pay for the dish, it spoilt the evening as no one likes complaining about a meal, in fact usually you just keep quiet and make a mental note never to go again. Also when you are hosting a meal, you don't want to complain and spoil the others' evening.
Part of the problem seems to be that the food is made in large trays and then zapped when ordered, which may account for the burnt pastry and the over heated and split lasagne. Essentially most of the items on the evening menu, apart from a steak and a pork dish, appear to be reheats from larger trays of prepared items.
The prices are high enough - mains are £10.50 - £19.00 - but the food just isn't good enough - none of us had an exceptional meal, at best average. It wasn't helped by being seated right next to the tall fridge in the dining room which houses the puddings - so that every time something was ordered, they had to reach over one of our party, ditto whenever they served a dish. There was empty tables so why sit us there? It didn't make for relaxation wondering if you were going to get a plate of food in your lap.
It wasn't over busy, so the kitchen wasn't stressed from that point of view.
We had picked up the Flavour Fortnight brochure as we had 2 birthdays during the time it was on and thought we would try something from the promotional fortnight - after our meal at the Green Tea House, when we came home we just threw it in the bin, and decided not to waste any more of our money.
We asked our guests the next morning if they had enjoyed their meal - the best they would say was it was ok.
They have an interesting take on things, they now rarely eat out as they are fed up paying £100 plus for a disappointing experience, so they go out 2-3 times a year and spend a lot of money on a 'treat', like going to Rick Stein or a Roux restaurant, rather than having lots of meals locally.
In the end we had our first birthday meal in Ayrshire, at the Hollybush, where we had a completely competent and pleasing meal nicely served and presented. Only wish we had taken our visitors there instead!
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