Having not eaten in a Chinese restaurant for months and months, I then ended up eating in one on consecutive nights.
And, although one restaurant was in Kettering and the other in East Yorkshire, they were both called Lee Garden.
The Kettering version of Lee Garden is one of those lovely restaurants where the staff always have time for a joke and a chat, and the food is of a consistently good standard.
Kettering is spoiled for choice when it comes to Indian restaurants, but the Lee Garden is the only eat-in Chinese restaurant in the town centre, which either means it is so good no-one dare challenge it or there isn’t a demand for Chinese food in the town.
Chinese food is always better eaten with a groupbecause then you can have a banquet and try lots of different dishes, so we went along with our friends Dave and Alyson.
We soon decided that the easiest way of deciding what to choose from the menu was to take the easy route and go for one of the set dinner options.
I assume that the chef, or whoever has decided on which dishes to include in each set dinner option, has tried to make it a good representation of the dishes available and to show off the restaurant’s cuisine. Although there is always the danger of eating too much of the starters and not having enough room left to do justice to the main courses.
I’m a huge fan of crispy duck so the only rule was that any set dinner we chose had to include that.
We decided on set dinner D (£23 per person) and, having made our choice, sat back and waited for the feast to begin.
After a quick practise with the chopsticks the starters came.
They included spring rolls that had a crisp, non-greasy wrapping and a lovely filling, satisfyingly meaty spare ribs and seaweed that proved beyond my capabilities to pick up with chopsticks.
I passed on the prawn toast as I’m not a fan but they all got eaten so I presume the others found them to their satisfaction.
Half the fun of choosing Peking duck is the theatre of seeing the waiter scrunch it up off at the table, something that didn’t happen at the Lee Garden “oop North” but, I’m pleased to say, did in Kettering.
It came with the usual pancakes, hoi sin sauce, cucumber and spring onions.
After holding back with the meat when filling our first pancakes we all realised quickly that there was plenty of duck to go round and soon we were stuffing pancakes with so much filling they were almost impossible to roll up.
By this stage we were starting to think that finishing the main courses would be beyond us, and so it proved.
That was no reflection on the dishes, which were all very tasty, but more a comment on us all having eyes bigger than our stomachs.
The main courses, which came with egg fried rice, were mixed sweet and sour, mixed vegetables, sliced loin pork satay, fillet steak and fillet chicken in oyster sauce and salmon in ginger with spring onions, which was my favourite.
There was a nice tang of ginger but not so much that it overpowered the flavour of the salmon.
Two Chinese meals in two nights is probably one too many but of the two Lee Gardens, the one in Kettering was definitely the better.
The cooking had more finesse and the staff were more friendly.
DISABLED ACCESS: Awkward
PARKING: Council car park nearby
FINAL TOTAL: £152.50 including drinks
JANET’S STAR RATING: 7/10