The Meadowpark has been open for a while now in its current format, now more befitting it’s Bridge of Allan location, than the Student hangout it once was. I had lunched at The ”Med” just after it re-opened and found it to be pretty decent, with just a bit of polishing needed, as expected for a new start. This time round the staff have had time to learn where everything is, the menu is bedded in, all those little first-few-months niggles ironed out. Even the smell of Snakebite & Black and Jagerbombs in the bar had dissipated, replaced with blush Zinfandel and Leather
The refurbishment was comprehensive and well executed, as a result the Meadowpark presents very nicely. The car park is quite small so you may have to park out on the road and walk down the hill, when it’s busy. Remember after dinner you have to walk back up! The access is good and the wide entrance corridor leads you through to the bar on one side and the restaurant on the other.
I was out with the other Musketeers and as usual I was running late. I met them in the bar where they already had their half-drunk drinks in hand. I went to the bar and ordered mine and the bar person had already clocked that I was dining and added it to our bill, without me saying a word. Not psychic, not rocket science, but just neat efficiency and knowing your customers, ‘twas a good start. He gave us a few minutes, for my friends to berate me over my tardiness, before asking if we wished to go through to the restaurant. So far the service had been friendly, welcoming and efficient I was optimistic about what was to come.
The menu was broad, I liked the from the sea, land, surf & turf and garden selection, it was a neat way of splitting the dishes. The surf & turf section was quite a neat incarnation of an old classic, especially as you could omit the fishy bits if you wanted. So we did. All three of us ordered medium rare Sirloin steaks.
We sat putting the world to rights and before we got too far the steaks arrived. I have to say first impressions were wow, this looks great. However a bit like Aladdin, things are not always what they seem…
The first cut of the steak went well, a beautiful pink colour inside, so cooked exactly as I requested. Then I popped it in my mouth and savoured the well rounded meaty flavours. The Beurre Café de Paris had no real flavour and didn't have much of a contribution to anything. Then I chewed
I was so incredibly chewy, every mouthful was just an effort. It wasn't just me my dining companions thought so too, we all sat there like cattle chewing the cud. I am loathed to use the often used expression of “like chewing an old pair of boots”. Firstly because it is so clichéd. Secondly because I have never done so and couldn’t draw the comparisons accurately. I did once have to bite down on a leather belt, but that’s another story and I digress…
The accompanying onion was massively undercooked to be considered roasted. It may have had a brief dalliance with the cooker, but no more. The tomato was inoffensive enough and looked pretty on the plate, but it was what it was, a cooked tomato.
The chips though, Hello! What a tour-de-force. They were excellent. Light and fluffy inside with a beautifully crispy bite. They were slightly salted and just brilliant. It is such a shame that they stood out as the highlight of the main course. £16.50 is a lot to pay for a portion of chips and some accompaniments!
Service, unfortunately, disappeared about the same time as our food arrived. No check that our food was to our satisfaction, which when you’re serving steak is essential in my opinion. It is better to enquire after the first cut that the steak is cooked correctly than wait for your customers to flag you down. Our empty drinks glasses remained stubbornly empty for the duration of the meal with no offer to get us further drinks, and by golly we could have done with some lubrication for the steak.
So what are my thoughts? The service was, overall, average. The food, nothing to write home about. The value for money, pretty middle of the road. Despite the high aspirations of the makeover The Meadowpark doesn't quite reach good, but then it isn't awful either.
A solid mediocre then.