The Park Hotel
Tyne & Wear
0191 257 1406
Gluten free? Allegedly
As we wound our way through the throng at the bar to our table in the dining room the sound of Pulp’s “Do you remember the first time?” was playing. For once, yes, I most certainly could.
You see, decades ago I worked at the Park Hotel during a school summer holiday. I remember a huge scary head chef with a talent for vulgarity, a tall and very camp head waiter, and a diminutive wine waiter, who was Portuguese. One day the head waiter was ill and so the wine waiter deputised. I’ve never seen anyone so proud, pompous and nervous all at the same time.
It was the regular “Bank Managers' Lunch” where the besuited heads of all our local branches got together - 20 of them around a large banqueting table. Lamb chops were on the set menu; I was promoted to wine duty. I had just poured everyone a glass of Niersteiner Domtal when the little Portuguese waiter, covered in sweat, emerged from the kitchen carrying a huge platter displaying 40 neatly arranged lamb chops resting on a bed of watercress.
He approached the head of the table and, with a theatrical flourish, presented the dish to the regional head of (I think) Lloyds Bank. In doing so, he didn’t realise that beneath the layers of chops and greenery was an ocean of scalding hot gravy, which poured like a river into the top man’s crotch. He leapt skywards, taking banqueting table, cloth, and all my neatly poured glasses of wine with him. The Portuguese waiter burst into tears and ran out of the restaurant, never to be seen again.
Sad to say there was almost as much ineptitude on display on our recent visit, just without any of the pride, and a good deal less comedy. It’s a safe bet that in twenty years I’ll still be recounting the bit I’ve just told you as opposed to what must now follow.