“You haven’t been here before? Then you’re in for a treat. It does fabulous food,” I told my working lunch date, Sam Kennedy, head of Weston Park Cancer Charity, as we walked into the Wig and Pen.
Alak, I had to eat my words - which was a lot easier than consuming her lunch proved to be.
Every now and then, she grimaced and gulped in air to cool her mouth. “It’s the mustard,” she said. Her Croque Monsieur was laced with it.
Maybe it was to make up for the absence of ham. Sam had requested the grilled cheese sarnie sans jambon as there was nothing vegetarian on the office lunch menu.
Even before it arrived, though, our blood was heated.
When the waitress came to take drinks order, it transpired the appealing, though pricy food menu we had been perusing for ten minutes wasn’t the only one. She had forgotten to give us the cheap and cheerful selection of sandwiches, fish and chips, Caesar salad and scrambled egg dishes we eventually chose from.
Then there was the noise. It’s a very popular lunchtime pub, but in the room that overlooks Paradise Square, every scrape of chair on wooden floor and peel of laughter reverberates. No good for a working lunch.
We were moved swiftly and without complaint, however, and our circular booth on the other side of the pub proved more comfortable, roomy and peaceful.
Service was good. But front of house was let down by a slow kitchen. We sat down at 12.45pm and the mustardy croque, plus my fish butty, landed at 1.13pm.
The sandwiches didn’t thrill us. Poor presentation was the main problem. My battered fish was soft and fresh, but it sat on its lonesome inside a bare ciabatta. The only other thing on the plate was shredded red cabbage. A wedge of lemon, a dollop of mayo, a smear of mushy peas would have helped.
Sam’s sarnie was on doorsteps of hand-made bread but her bowl of chips looked like they were from McDonalds. She left half of everything.
I sampled a £3.50 lemon posset dessert recommended by the waiter. The mousse was nicely tart and well-paired with a mixed berry compote. Though why sprinkle broken shortbread biscuits on top? Presented in a little glass bowl, it looked like something you’d knock up at home.
With a lime and soda and a pomegranate juice, the bill was only £16. At that price, you can complain, though.
At a pub of such foodie standing, I expect better.
Wig & Pen
44 Campo Lane
Tel: 0114 2722150
Ratings out of 6:
In and out in an hour: NO. 70 minutes
Free Wifi: YES
Parking nearby: YES