26 July 2013

Goats on the Roof

Food (no stars)
Ambience ✪✪ 
Service ✪ 

Goats on the Roof
Fontburn
Ewesley 
Northumberland 
NE61 4PH 

10am-4:30pm 
Thurs - Sun, plus
bank and school holidays  

[Please note:  Since this review was published, Goats on the Roof has changed ownership and reopens this Easter 2014 (weekends only).  Please feel free to publish your comments here if you visit]

The concept is great. It has a roof with a hoof: a herd (well, two or three) tiny bagot goats graze on top of the building. 

You can watch them climb up a little ladder on the side. If you’ve got children, it should be a perfect stop-off for lunch on the tourist road from Hexham and Ponteland to Rothbury. It’s set on a farm with lots of other rare breeds to look at too, with a playground and a nice view of the Fontburn reservoir. 

Mrs Diner and I came mid-week. The website had promised “soups, sandwiches, salads, and hearty Northumbrian food”, as well as a “wide selection of home made cakes, scones and other scrumptious delights." 

The only “hearty Northumbrian food” available at 1pm was a “summer salad” of feta and green beans, at £6, and some mushroom quiche. Real Northumbrians don't eat quiche.



Nevertheless, in the absence of anything more hearty, I ordered quiche and salad while Mrs Diner had homemade soup and a tuna sandwich. The soup was tomato and vegetable (they said it was lentil, but contained none that we could find).  

It was clearly homemade, and extraordinarily bad. It was so bad, as to be almost inedible. It had been made with water, not stock, and canned tomatoes. This soup was red with embarrassment at being called a soup at all. It was red water with vegetables. We had found possibly the world’s very worst soup. 

Mrs D’s sandwich was a sadwich. It had canned tuna and nothing else, stuck into a mass-produced bap. My quiche had a soggy base. The salad consisted of some tomatoes and french beans – and thinly sliced cucumber with the skin left on. I donated my cucumber to Mrs D’s sadwich to make it a little less sad. 

The tomatoes had been refrigerated, and so were completely tasteless. The beans were either overcooked or canned – they were limp and had lost their green. It was all quite appalling. 

The young man who served us said the goats liked the baby tomatoes. We tried feeding them after the meal – they liked them even less than we did. 

We couldn’t face the “homemade cakes and other scrumptious delights”. The cherry cake had sunk as low as our spirits. Even the chocolate cakes didn’t look appetising. There was a sign on the fridge urging us to try ginger beer or Victorian lemonade (presumably Fentiman’s). They’d run out of both. 

A sign asked: “Would you like to bring your family for Sunday Lunch at Goats on the Roof? Please call us 48 hours in advance and we will source the joint of your choice from meat produced on local farms. Sunday Lunch made especially for you - what more could you ask for?"

Well, quite a lot more, actually. Like a chef, for a start.

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