Full of surprises was Bullys Douglas recently although not of the pleasant sort. From prima-donna chefs, unresponsive waiting staff, unreasonable waits, poor cuisine, poor food quality and foreign objects in food, it was, well, an interesting visit.
Eco’s was full, so we did what most do in the area when there’s no room at that inn, go across the road to Bully’s.
Years ago, many patrons avoided any selection of dishes named as ‘Specials’ or ‘Earlybird’ as invariably the portions were of far poorer quality than the same dish available on the main menu... an opportunity for the chef to recycle what was left in the fridge. This seemed to change with time to become a menu choice that matched the menu and of high quality, but it seems that nobody told Bullys.
French Onion soup and Crostini eventually arrived after an overlong twenty five minutes. These Crostini were the distant Irish cousin of the Italian ‘little toasts’ but instead of French bread toasted slices attractively garnished with a variety of cheeses, vegetables and meats, what passed for the dish was an Irish Pride bread slice toasted with a melange of identical bland toppings with far too much Balsamic in the mix. Ms A voted it unexciting and Crostini is a dish that takes little imagination to improve on. Strike one.
The French Onion was like no French Onion I had ever seen or tasted for that matter. Instead of a beef stock base with generous servings of roasted onion topped with well toasted parmesan toast cubes, I was given a Minestrone soup base full of well cooked onion with more Irish Pride bread torn to pieces and dropped on the top – untoasted and without parmesan.
I caught our waiter’s eye (no mean feat in itself) and attempted to send the soup back to the kitchen as it seemed to be the wrong order. But this was to be just the opening act of an interesting dining experience. The lifetime rule of trying not to annoy waiting staff or the kitchen brigade still stands with me so our waiter was persuaded to return it. For the first time in my dining life, the dish was the subject of an animated discussion, removed under duress but returned promptly to the table with an amusingly patronising explanation ‘The Chef says that’s French Onion soup and he is French’. So in other words, like it or lump it. Strike two.
We should have walked out there and then, but I have to admit, this was a little entertaining. After all, we all have heard of prima-donna chefs remonstrating with diners in Michelin Star eateries but in Bully’s Douglas? Maybe this French Onion soup was his Mother’s special recipe, so tried the dish & it was excellent. Service picked up dramatically after that, attentive, efficient and main courses of lasagne and Supreme of Chicken appeared promptly. Pity.
Ms A’s lasagne was poor. Over salted, badly prepared with limp pasta smothered in tomato sauce. The side salad made up of odds and ends was dry and should have been thrown out a day or two earlier as inedible. Strike three.
My Supreme was over-cooked, dry and bland. Sauce was of the Bisto variety maybe flavoured with cranberry but with a selection of excellent roasted vegetables. Nothing to write home about, or so I thought.
However, the highlight of the dish was spotted three quarters through – a sliver of metal under the chicken. A shard of bright, shiny metal from a pot scrubber, 5cms long, wiry, springy and definitely not requested. Coincidence? Poor kitchen practice? The chatty manager joined us on request and examined the offending shard. What followed was surreal as we were lectured on the pros and cons of metal and plastic pot scrubbers, French & Turkish personalities etc. Suffice to say, we declined offers of dessert and coffee and agreed that no charge should be made.
It must have been an off day for Bullys, but shards of metal in a main course clearly says just one thing. Eat elsewhere. We will.
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