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Eat My Words: Review of Wetherspoon's festive fare at the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate


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What says Christmas more, in the modern era, than rising cases of a highly contagious virus sweeping through the masses and threatening all our party plans? It's almost become a tradition hasn't it?

These are strange times indeed.

The Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate - an enormous Spoons by any measure
The Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate - an enormous Spoons by any measure

And if further proof were needed, just take a look at a Christmas menu in pub behemoth Wetherspoon. Because if you were expecting a traditional platter to try and get you into the spirit of the season - you know the sort of thing, meat, veg, stuffing, cranberry sauce and a dollop of gravy - then you may be disappointed.

In fact the word 'turkey' is nowhere to be seen in its festive line-up. Let that sink in for a moment.

As I strolled into one of its local pubs, I half expected to see a few tables occupied by a gaggle of tipsy turkeys toasting the chain's good health as they gobble-gobble down a pint of Stella while smirking at the fate of their farmyard brethren who have replaced them.

These are, as I say, strange times.

But then, walking into the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate at lunchtime on a Saturday, two weeks before the big day, is also notable by the modest crowds. I'm going to blame Omicron. Not that we're complaining...it means getting a seat is child's play.

The Christmas menu...and there's not a roast dinner to be seen
The Christmas menu...and there's not a roast dinner to be seen

So just what does Spoons offer its punters to get it in the mood for the most wonderful time of the year?

In short, its burgers and pizza. Bah, humbug.

Granted, opt for one of the meat burgers and yours will come garnished with the obligatory pigs-in-blankets. Want more of the little bacon-wrapped critters? Well, you can order a side dish with nothing but for £4.75.

For the vegetarians there are two choices - and I'll use the word 'patty' here rather than burger before some pedantic carnivore runs to the comment section to start the pointless debate of 'you can't call them burgers/sausages etc etc if they're not meat' - a breaded vegetable patty or a Beyond Meat plant-based one (I'll assume if you hold the cheese it would be vegan-friendly too).

Rather than pigs-in-blankets being speared into the top of yours, you'll get a couple of halloumi fries instead.

There are Christmas trees up...but the shot I took of them came out all blurry...but, trust me, they are there
There are Christmas trees up...but the shot I took of them came out all blurry...but, trust me, they are there

In terms of choice, it's all rather disappointingly, well, normal. The pizzas do have brie and stuffing as options as a nod towards reminding you it is actually December, but, come on. Pizza? It's about as festive as taking your car for an MoT.

The only other choices are some panini filled with - you guessed it - the likes of brie and stuffing. I can only assume in these supply-chain threatened days, they were the ingredients they could bank on.

But let's stop whingeing about what isn't there and focus on what is.

Step out the door and, be fair, this is a cracking view
Step out the door and, be fair, this is a cracking view

Firstly, the Ramsgate Spoons is a very fine building. Spread over two levels, the seating arrangements actually turn a rather cavernous site into one which can fool you into thinking its quite cosy. Plus, position yourself carefully, and your view is across the sands and, on Saturday at least, the calm waters of the sea. Very pleasant.

It balances out the fact there's a bloke sat nearby who keeps loudly f-ing and blinding about the outcome of qualifying in the Formula 1 GP. We vow not to catch his eye.

Spoons also has long been the pioneer of the ordering app - and, with a few jabs of the finger, food and drinks are ordered without having to move an inch or catch the attention of a member of staff. Within moments, the drinks arrive...the food is no more than 10 minutes behind it. You cannot argue with the service.

This is how the burger looked on the promotional leaflet...
This is how the burger looked on the promotional leaflet...

Moan if you must, but I opt for the Beyond Meat plant-based burger (there, I said it). The picture of the burgers on the stars-festooned menu looks nice. What arrives looks a little less appealing. There's a lot of over-hanging bap. And that's not just a description of the couple sitting nearby.

...and this is how it appeared in real life
...and this is how it appeared in real life

A brie and garlic pizza also arrives and looks fabulous - vibrant colours, thin crust, albeit as Christmassy as an Easter egg.

The burger is, despite its aesthetic shortcomings, best described, simply, as ruddy tasty. Beyond Meat burgers are one of those plant-based options which hit the nail bang on the head. It looks and tastes gloriously meaty while leaving me, both metaphorically and literally, with no blood on my hands. Garnish, which includes onion, and slices of brie, provides sufficient kick to make it a flavoursome experience from start to finish. They complement rather than smoother one another.

Both in appearance and taste, most would be hard pushed to taste the difference between the Beyond Meat burger and a slice of dead cow
Both in appearance and taste, most would be hard pushed to taste the difference between the Beyond Meat burger and a slice of dead cow

The chips which accompany it are OK - fluffy little fellows with crisp coating. But unremarkable despite that.

As for the halloumi fries? Well, Spoons can be forgiven an awful lot of things courtesy of these little chaps...so I'll not hear a word against them.

The pizza, coincidentally, was light and flavoursome...the brie pretty low down in the taste mix, but subtle enough to make it feel a bit out of the ordinary.

The pizza was tasty...but does brie really make it that festive?
The pizza was tasty...but does brie really make it that festive?

Are theses dishes filling? Yes they are. In fact, so much so that the planned exploration into pudding territory has to be deferred for another time.

Oh, and just one last thing...I know they're probably obliged to do it, but if the lack of traditional festive grub doesn't put you off, the fact that the calorie count of every dish is displayed loud and proud just might.

It's Christmas. I don't want to know that burger I just wolfed down has just added 1,600 calories to my waistline. I prefer to live in blissful ignorance.

Not a pretty sight...but that's eating burgers for you
Not a pretty sight...but that's eating burgers for you

But that's not Spoons' fault.

The truth is, as is always the way with a Wetherspoon, for the mild grumbles comes the big pay off - namely the price.

For two of us to eat tasty, decent burgers, washed down with a drink (soft, admittedly, well I was driving) came to just a fraction over £20. You cannot argue with the value. Although, it must be said, not having a bit of dead chicken or cow between your baps, will cost you £1 more than your meat-eating chums. But what price an eased conscience, eh?

Was it tasty? This tells you all you need to know - even the blue cheese dip took a pasting
Was it tasty? This tells you all you need to know - even the blue cheese dip took a pasting

Food: *** Marked down only due to it being as festive as a summer holiday. Otherwise, a very decent offering.

Drink: **** What can you say about a Pepsi Max? It was cold and tasted how it should. The range of other drinks available is, of course, huge and well priced.

Decor: ***** Hard not to be impressed with the Royal Victoria Pavilion - a grand building with fabulous views and perched right between the picturesque marina and sandy beach.

Staff: **** Courtesy of the app our interactions were limited - but service was quick, efficient and friendly.

Price: **** Frankly, you can argue all day about Wetherspoon's impact on the pub trade...but its prices you cannot. £20 for two people to eat heartily, with drink included, is not to be sniffed at.

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