Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Vacation! The Toby Carvery

Toby Carvery
Fair Oak Road
Eastleigh, Hampshire

The American "all-you-can-eat" concept has finally taken hold in Blighty in a big way with the Toby Carvery, a popular pub-restaurant chain that offers a traditional roast-meats-and-veggies buffet at very affordable prices.

Usually I shy away from buffets because there are precious few vegetarian items to be had and I feel as though I don't get my money's worth, but at the Carvery - even though the very name illicits thoughts of sliced meats - they have a special vegetarian section that is very well received.

This is my husband's (non-vegetarian) carvery meal

One of the things I really love about England is the enlightened view the British take on vegetarianism. EVERY restaurant offers loads of vegetarian options, and on each restaurant menu there is a prominent "V" symbol by each, allieviating the worry and question asking that usually accompanies my dining out experiences in the States.

It's easy to locate the vegetarian items on this menu

So cheers to the Carvery for offering a vegetarian carvery experience - even though I didn't give it a shot this time around. You see, on the day we visited the Carvery they were offering two lunch specials: either the all-you-can-eat carvery or a Ploughman's with a pint of Stella Artois, each for £5 ($10).

I do love a ploughmans, and when you throw in a pint it's a no-brainer. The ploughman's won.

Readers of this blog will probably see quite a few photos of the ploughman's lunch in the coming weeks because it's one of my favorite meals; so simple and healthy in concept yet so difficult to find back home. I tend to eat a lot of them while I have the chance.

Traditionally a meal prepared for farmers (plow men) by their wives, the ploughman's lunch needed to be able to survive the heat of the day and still satisfy a hearty appetite. It usually consists of crusty bread and butter, a wedge of fresh cheese, a light salad and/or tomatoes, pickled onions or other pickled vegetable, and a piece of fresh fruit - usually an apple - all washed down with a mug of ale. Ahhhhhhh.....

The ploughman's at the Carvery was decent but not a patch on ploughman's past. The bread, while warm and crusty, was a regular, no-nonsense supermarket baguette and although the cheddar cheese was locally-made and gorgeous, there wasn't nearly enough of it. I was surprised to find an orange on the plate instead of an apple, but no biggie - except that the orange was so cold that I couldn't hold it long enough to peel it. I took it away to eat later.

And don't get me started on the pickled onions! I love pickled onions, but only when they are either small enough to eat whole, or I'm given a knife in which to slice them up into managable pieces. At the Carvery, I really struggled to slice the lime-sized onions with the butter knife I was given, and our server disappeared before I could ask for a proper knife. I hacked and sawed, but in the end the onions won.

Still, a ploughman's AND a pint - all for £5 - is a really tasty bargain.


Trixi said...

I'd never heard of the ploughman's lunch, but it sounds and looks pretty good. Even before I saw your picture, I was a tad frightened of the size of the onions though :-)

Hope you're having a fab time!

Veggie Option said...

Those onions were scary.

We're having a great time. My mom isn't going to be happy though because Cadbury's has stopped making the mint-chocolate bars she loves. Guess she'll have to settle for Aeros.