Often it is nice to be able to eat out at a place which is local enough for the car to be left at home and the inevitable “it’s your turn to drive” argument to be avoided.
But this can be limiting, especially as we like to eat out at places we haven’t been to for a while.
This is perhaps why we found ourselves in a practically-deserted hotel restaurant one Saturday night.
We’d invited our good friends, Dave and Alyson, to join us at The Naseby (still known to most people in the town as The George) in Kettering and were glad we had.
There were only two other diners the entire three hours we were there. Luckily we had plenty of catching up to do and made our own atmosphere.
The hotel has been refurbished and the interior is smart, and the staff friendly. They never rushed us despite being chronically underemployed.
But the menu lacks pizzazz.
The choice of starters, in particular, was very uninspiring.
In the end I had the soup of the day – mushroom (£1.95), which was tasty but not exactly something you would rush back for.
Ade and Alyson had the mozzarella sticks (£3.19) and Dave chose the chicken goujons (£2.19).
They were piping hot and a good size but, again, neither dish had any “wow” factor.
To follow I had the ravioli filled with chargrilled vegetables (£6.50), Ade and Dave had the lamb shank with mashed potato and peas (£9.60), and Alyson had poached salmon with hollandaise sauce and chips (5.70).
Her first choice of barbecued ribs had sold out, which we all found a bit surprising considering how quiet the restaurant was on what you’d expect to be a busy night.
Again, the food was nice enough, my ravioli came with a tasty tomato sauce and for the price was very good value.
The lads enjoyed their lamb, and the chips Alyson had asked for instead of new potatoes with her salmon were excellent.
Alyson’s knack of not getting quite what she wanted continued with the dessert when the waiter rather intriguingly told her the banoffee cheesecake (£2.30) was more of a pie than a cheesecake.
Ade’s apple crumble and ice-cream (£2.45) was just that, and his favourite part of the meal, with plenty of apple and just the right amount of crumble topping.
Alyson also enjoyed her pie-cum-cheesecake, which had a suitably banoffee-y tasting filling.
The meal was certainly good value, the surroundings pleasant and the waiters charming, but I couldn’t help thinking that The Naseby needs a bit more imagination in the kitchen before I’d go again.
That may sound churlish, but I always judge how good a restaurant is by wanting to try at least three things on the menu and coveting at least one of the options one of my dining companions has chosen, and that didn’t happen.
If The Naseby was the only restaurant nearby I’d be happy to go fairly regularly, it was relaxed and good value, but with Prezzo due to open almost next door in the next few weeks, it’ll will need to up its game to encourage diners in.
Value: Very good
Food: Lacked pizzazz
Service: Very friendly
Disabled access: Few steps down to restaurant
Cost: Final total £74.67, which included two bottles of wine.
Address: Best Western Naseby Hotel
Tel: 01536 734736