There is a new restaurant in the Outpost.
It’s called the Golden Eagle.
Local competition, with not the tiniest hint of sneering sour grapes you understand, has dubbed it the Golden Cockroach.
They’re probably right. About the cockroaches.
But competition is a healthy thing. Even if cockroaches are not. Though my mother-in-law always deemed they were: they ate all the rubbish in the kitchen, she said. Helped with the housekeeping, she said.
So we went. Husband, children and I. To the Golden Eagle/Cockroach. For a Last Supper. Before the Big Ones returned to boarding school last week.
We washed our hair and put on our glad rags and went out for dinner.
First impressions weren’t encouraging: the place was almost empty. But we sallied forth: the Outpost has made us brave. And limited choices have rendered us less dismissive of what there is than we once might have been.
A waitress wandered over to take our drinks order.
Amelia – optimistically – ordered a milkshake. The waitress looked at her blankly.
Have a coke, darling, I suggested, thinking her dad had talked the place up a little too enthusiastically.
The waiter ambled up shortly afterwards shuffling a handful of scruffy A4 pages. The menu is transpired.
What do you want? He demanded as he rifled through grimy pages without sharing them with us.
Chicken, I ventured? What kind do you have (as in: Tandoori? Masala? Grilled?)
I looked blank.
The chicken is from the village, he explained. Loudly. Because he thought I was really stupid, obviously.
Have the beef, hissed husband, impatient at my rambling indulgent consideration of what to eat as if I were dining someplace like The Ivy.
At that point our table was joined by the proprietor’s seven year old daughter. She was disarmingly precocious and alarmingly loquacious.
My dad’s restaurant is very good isn’t it?
We all murmured assent. Lack of milkshakes and surfeit of village chicken aside.
The food here is very good, she added, and the bar too – and she waved her arm in the direction of a bar festooned with fairy lights.
Fabulous PR tactic, I whispered to husband, send your pretty little daughter out to charm the guests.
Hm. He grunted.
And the pool table is also very nice. I am very good at pool.
Because we had grown a little tired of the animated juvenile marketing strategy we made Hat go and have a game with her, of pool. Hat made a cross face but quietly acquiesced.
Our meal arrived – beef as ordered by husband – at the same time as Hat reappeared, looking even crosser.
She cheats, she hissed at me.
Our pint-sized hostess rejoined us too and sagely observed us whilst we ate, leaning against the table.
Then she said, ‘Meat gives you warts, you know, I can show you a picture in my Body Atlas if you like?’