It's always a bad sign when during a trip to a restaurant I start composing mental emails to Giles Coren the Times restaurant reviewer, and last night was no exception.
Now, there used to be a very nice Chinese restaurant in Falmouth, which was run by visibly Chinese staff, who also ate in there. A while ago, it got taken over, shifted a few doors up the road and re-opened, with cold, spotlit, tiled decor replacing the carpets and the chicken made out of lottery tickets. The staff had also mysteriously shifted ethnicity into a bunch of grumpy looking caucasians.
Willing to give it another chance, we dropped in last night, reasonably confident that we'd be able to get a table without a reservation on a rainy Tuesday in February. We needn't have worried - the place was completely deserted. We were there for an hour, and in that time two takeaway orders got phoned in, and no-one else came to dine.
Our waitress looked like she'd been drafted in from Broadmoor to prevent us escaping out in to the night and about as happy about it. At one point a Chinese chap did come in the door, leading to speculation that they probably paid him to walk through every night to make the customers think their food might be in some way authentic (he left again shortly afterwards, dashing any hopes we might have harboured).
We ordered two cokes while we were waiting, and the deathly hush over the place was enough to hear the 'ffsst' of a multi-litre bottle of unspecified cola being opened somewhere in the back.
The soup came suspiciously quickly, intimations of hidden microwaves being borne out by my lumps of crab-meat not being entirely what you could call warm. It wasn't bad, but as I said, you can't really go far wrong with something available in tins. More appetising than the won ton soup anyway, which was a bovril-y tasting thin stock with floating cabbage and two sheep's eyes (ok, so they weren't actually sheep's eyes. Sheep's eyes probably would have been tastier).
The main courses weren't bad per se, but the portions certainly wouldn't have filled a take-away container, and would it have been too much to ask for the rice to come in a bowl that a/ had been warmed and b/ didn't have a big chip out the side of it?
OK, picky-picky, the lot came to under £30 for the two of us, but then, I left still feeling vaguely hungry. And with the realisation that we had had a worse Chinese meal - the last time we'd been in there. I don't think we'll be going back.