Saturday, September 01, 2012

Midday Express

I went for a lunch time meal with mates the other day.

We tried the new Wagamama’s that had opened in town a month or two ago.

My experience of noodles up to this point had been constrained to the dry stuff that you buy in supermarkets and boil for about 10 minutes or the occasional visit to a Thai restaurant. I figured Wagamama’s fell somewhere between the two with its noodles being cooked by professional chefs but cooked in a kitchen belonging to a restaurant chain as opposed to a little Thai family who emigrated here in the 80’s and opened up a family run restaurant in a shoebox.

I was quite impressed by the Wagamama experience. There was an energy about the place that you don’t normally find in restaurants. The waiters and waitresses were visibly busy. As opposed to being invisibly busy where you cannot see them but charitably suppose them to be about the business of another diner.

The food was good but as this is not a sponsored post I am not going to wax lyrical about their fresh spring onions or the tenderness of their chicken breasts. Instead I am going to focus on the tables.

Wagamama’s in Leamington has long trestle tables that span the entire width of the eating environment. Down the centre of this table glides a metal dividing pole with a small strip light installed into the top of it so that one side of the trestle table is divided from the other by close quarter lighting from above.

Maybe to those of you who “do lunch” regularly this is old hat. Those of you who are more cosmopolitan possibly eat from loveseats suspended 8ft above lotus flower strewn water and consider the novelty of long benches and tables to me as being rather twee. To me, however, it was new. And unfortunately my diseased mind could only conjure up one reference point with which to normalize the experience.

Midnight Express.

The bit where Billy Hayes has been locked up but gets a last visit from his girlfriend and attempts to connect his slobbering, sobbing lips with her pert breasts through about two inches of bullet proof, knife proof, definitely penis proof glass.

Mentioning this out loud probably explains why the conversation between me and my two female colleagues stalled momentarily.

This aside I was impressed by the amount of young kids that were about the place merrily tucking into steaming bowls of eastern-esque cuisine.

Haven’t us proles come a long way since I was a kid?

Back when I were a lad (by ‘eck) it were a big thing to eat out at a Berni Inn let alone somewhere that sold sushi and noodles and expected you to mop the lot up with a pair of chopsticks.

Such marlarky was for rich toffs – those who holidayed in places other than Weston-super-Mare and Scunthorpe and instead pushed the envelope out to the continent and ate at an El Berni Posada in Spain.

The world has very quickly got a lot smaller.

Though, of course, this could entirely be down to an optical illusion caused by the size of the tables...

24 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

I wonder why has it's taken so long for Wagamama to open a restaurant in your town. Had they written you off as a bunch of hicks who only eat Egg and Chips? Anyway, I'm glad they are enriching your culinary habits. Don't boil noodles for 10 minutes, that's too long. Spaghetti is what you boil for 10 minutes.

libby said...

The Berni Inn at the top of the town was were I used to go....and the bar underneath it... ahhh happy days!
My Dad and I walked past Wagamama the other day and he asked what it was..imagine how far away from his comfort zone it would be if it is a novelty to you younguns!!

Lottie said...

Ahhh..... the good old days of fine dining at the Berni!

My kids love Wagamama's and prefer it over the hell hole of McDonalds & KFC thank God....makes a Saturday shopping trip mildly bearable :))

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: do you hang out with Delia Smith?

Libby: it would be like teleporting to another continent entirely. Except everyone speaks English. So maybe a bit like Tenerife.

Lottie: one huge plus Wagamama has over McShit's is that the food is genuinely healthy.

Trish @ Mums Gone To... said...

You're one up on me, Steve. Have never been in a Wagamama and now I'm thinking of that scene from Midnight Express, I'm not sure I fancy it!

Love your new blog look - you got rid of that black background which pleases me a lot.

John Gray said...

You had my sympathy until you said "bernie inn"
Tee hee

Löst Jimmy said...

Were you referring to the Mudnight Express clip where Hayes was in the asylum and was in a slobbering state and did the nasty on the other side of the glass, as one would beholding the sight of top breasts. Ahem.

Löst Jimmy said...

I remember that prison visit scene. I'd have done the same to behold such a sight.

Löst Jimmy said...

...blimey

Steve said...

Trish: I thought everyone liked the black background? ;-(

John: and now I have your derision?

Löst Jimmy: that was the very scene... emblazoned forever as it is upon my delicate mind.

joebloggs said...

I always thought the nearest the Midlands got to sushi was a tin of pink salmon dunked in vinegar for Sunday tea!! How you have evolved.
As regards the background bring back the black, this one make me want "a P please Bob".

Owen said...

But were the bathrooms clean ???

Löst Jimmy said...

Sorry for the above 3 comment garbledness, it was hastily scribed via the minute features if the iPhone in poor light. Not because of a trembling hand on the otherside of the glass in an asylum's visitor section !

Steve said...

Joe: I'd rather take an E.

Owen: don't know. Never used them. I was recalling Midnight Express at the time and had the fear.

Löst Jimmy: yeah... I believe you.

Rol said...

Ah yes, the Berni Inn. Along with Wimpy and Merrie England, that was my youthful dining out rota.

Steve said...

Rol: I haven't even heard of Merrie England... that's the kind of backwater I live in.

Rol said...

I think it's a northern thing.

Steve said...

Rol: did they serve ale and whippet pies?

Keith said...

Let's hear it for the Mini Friar as well, seeing as we are doing nostalgic crap eateries. Or was that heavenly place unique to Peterborough ?

BTW Wagamama's carrot juice is awesome.

And should not in any way be confused with Brad Davis juice.

Steve said...

Keith: Mini Friar? Is that a chip shop for Warwick Davis?

Being Me said...

It's posts like these that make me wonder what my grandmother would have made of all this in her "home land". She had a hard time adjusting to the changes that had been made between her leaving for Australia in 1955 and then going back for a return visit in 1972. Was already too much of a demise of "the good old days" (By goom... eggythoomp... 'n all that).

Steve said...

Being Me: life moves way too fast... it's fine when you're young and keep up with it but as soon as you start to slow or take a breather it leaves you standing in the dust.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Before all the city eateries fell down - (apparently there are only two in the CBD now) I marvelled that my daughter considered Sushi normal and desirable food. I'm so old-fashioned I would just make a beeline for the chickpea korma.

Steve said...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: chickpea korma? Fish and chips, love! Fish and chips!