WHAT do they say... water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink?
It’s a way of pointing out how you can be awash with something, without really being able to make use of any of it.
Take hotels as an example.
We’ve got hundreds here in Blackpool – plenty serving their own grub.
But how many have you ever popped out for dinner at?
Breaking the habit of a lifetime we booked in for dinner at Blues Bar and Brasserie, the eaterie end of one of Blackpool’s recent hospitality success stories.
Ten years old next year the boutique Big Blue Hotel has cemented a strong reputation for quality – but could the food live up to the high standards apparently being set by the accommodation side of the business?
It would certainly have to be something special given that the surroundings, while pleasant and nicely decorated, are clearly those of a hotel restaurant.
Still, the greeting is warm and our hostess is knowledgeable, talking us through the specials as we’re shown to our table.
There are two options, the a la carte menu (mains from £11 to around £20) or the Table d’Hote offering, three courses for a very reasonable £23 – even if the choice is a little limited.
We both decide to choose from the a la carte selection, my starter a winter warming leek and potato soup – as good as my home-made although missing a good doorstep of crusty bread – my wife opting for the wonderfully gooey breaded Camembert.
It’s out quickly ( we’ve hardly started on the rather pricey bottle of house white) and very nicely presented, the soup in need of no seasoning at all, the cheese coming with a tangy cranberry dip.
Still on the first (large) glass of the £18 house white (crisp and dry but rather excessively marked up), our mains arrive. My belly pork is perfectly cooked, moist in the middle with crispy, salty crackling – the buttery mash soaking up the spicy Chorizo sausage sauce perfectly – the veg offering of sugarsnap peas and carrots retaining their bite and flavour.
My wife’s French trimmed chicken is equally well received, the portion of hand cut chips at first looking a little on the small side but proving quite the opposite as she tucked into the dish, which came with a rich stilton and mushroom sauce.
With the families long gone back to their rooms the atmosphere of the restaurant seemed a little more grown up, if not rather quiet. Still it provided a chance to sit back, watch the Lights traffic jam, the packed trams and reflect on the evening.
The pork had certainly taken its toll on my belly, the very reasonably priced sweet menu tempting but, I feared a step too far.
My wife agreed and, instead, we chose to take our time and polish off the bottle of wine, on our own in a quiet corner, the buzz of the busy bar drifting across the restaurant as staff began setting the tables for breakfast – a reminder this was, after all, one of Blackpool’s busiest hotels.
At £52 for two to dine (including wine, add a tenner if you fancy a sweet each) the bill seems reasonable, particularly given the quality of the locally sourced food on offer.
Of course, plump for the beef at the top end of the a la carte range, and you’re looking at a heftier hit on the wallet – but that’s the beauty of a menu which suits plenty of tastes and budgets.
You don’t even have to book yourself a room to find out.
Name: Blues Bar and Brasserie
Address: Big Blue Hotel, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool
Phone: 0871 222 4000
Opening times: Dinner served 5.30pm to 9.30pm
Parking: On site
Disabled access: Yes
Worth a visit for: Quality locally sourced food
One thing I’d change: A tweak to the ambience