Had a rather disappointing lunch today, in several ways. Ventured down to Cambridge to see someone, and stopped at a pub near Duxford for lunch. I’ve been here occasionally over the years, but shan’t be going again...
The once-rural setting of this former coaching inn has been progressively eroded by piecemeal light industrial development, and it now has no garden left at all. The parking is now charged (you enter your registration on a screen inside to get exemption, but there is no sign outside explaining this). Ordering now takes place at the bar, not the table. I never regard either of these as encouraging signs. The over-stretched staff also appeared lacking in experience, and the chef enlivened proceedings by entering the (mostly empty) bar and delivering a terse homily to one who appeared to have particularly displeased him.
Food was unexciting, if filling and we didn’t bother with dessert. The general impression was of a business coasting downhill, living off past reputation; possibly not for much longer.
Sadly, this seems increasingly common. Several of the pubs around Peterborough have passed into the hands of a chain who have built a reputation for reasonable food, but slow and erratic service by hopelessly over-stretched staff (No 1 Son tells me that they shuffle the staff between pubs, depending on where things seem worst at the time). I’ve had some very mixed experiences in my travels to Birmingham, the North West and South Coast in the past couple of years.