Bank Holiday Monday. It’s raining. We walked through the park and suffered the children’s play area until lunchtime. Having worked up an appetite we headed to Toby Carvery in Newbury.
For those who are not familiar with a carvery, it’s a restaurant where cooked meat is freshly sliced in front of you. Every day the chefs at Toby Carvery lay on a feast of tender, hand-carved meats with all the trimmings.
The food tastes great. A perfect roast dinner every time. And the good news is that if the kids don’t fancy the carvery, there is a pretty extensive children’s menu to choose from too, full of staple favourites like sausages or shepherd’s pie.
But for a young family, there is a bit of a problem. In order to keep the food fresh and moist, the Toby Carvery need a continuous number of customers filling plates and if you have many customers then you will have queues. Queues and young families are generally not good.
You’ve just about got them all in their seats or high chairs. No one has knocked over a drink or made a break for the door, yet. The crayons from the kid’s packs have been emptied onto the floor but no one needs the toilet. A stable state has been reached.
There exists, between my wife and I, a tacit agreement that ‘divide and conquer’ is the best parenting strategy. Unfortunately, when queuing for food that means that one parent gets their food and starts eating way before the other, depending on the length of the queue of course.
Queueing, that Great British tradition. I overheard other customers in the queue saying “I love this bit”. And it is exciting. There is a degree of ceremony behind the queuing and carving. The kids loved it. It was like getting a peek into the kitchen. The other world beyond the door.
Then I got it. Once we had settled in, the kids could wander freely and safely to refill their drinks, get more gravy or go to the toilet. Rather than trying to keep them at the table, give them some responsibility get them involved. Our waiter Chris and all the other staff were very helpful and ensured that we were well looked after.
The pudding portions are huge and the coffee is nice too. It’s a lovely meal with the family.