The Embankment sits, as the name suggests, on the bank of the river Ouse in Bedford. The family P stopped in a week ago and found ourselves wondering what could be better than strolling along the river on a gloriously sunny day, pausing only to enjoy a drink at a pub overlooking some of the nicer parts of Bedford*? How lucky then when the aforementioned pub is selling lobster in garlic butter! Mmmmmm, how could we go wrong? We all know that everything’s better with butter.
I must admit full disclosure here and say that we were invited to The Embankment to sample their Summer lobster specials but someone must have been smiling down upon us because the day was perfect for a before dinner wander up the river and The Child had decided to surf her pre-teen hormone tidal wave rather than succumb to it’s dark whirlpool depths for the day so everything was coming up roses as we made our way into the bar.
The bar itself is a narrow affair which encourages people to spill out onto the patio in front, great on a day like that. The tables are close in without being too crowded and we were talked through the menu with considerable professional knowledge as I asked the waitress a few probing questions about the lobster.
Some homemade bread and dip got us off the mark (not as good as The Swan guys, sorry) before we happily started on the starters with a sharing meat board.
The chicken sliders were pretty good with the charcuterie and the very rare roast beef a welcome addition too. The croquettes didn’t bring anything to the party however and The Child asked ‘what are they were supposed to taste like?’ Which isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement I’m afraid.
For main course The Child had some crispy salt and pepper squid which was… OK. It remained mostly crispy as she finished it but the sauce proved to be an acquired taste that none of us particularly liked. Mrs P’s pork chop was unapologetically big and with its crispy potatoes and green beans all doused in apple gravy. Whilst no fireworks here, it proved popular with all of us.
Similarly my half lobster with fries, sat on the plate waiting for me to devour it, and so who was I to disappoint a dead lobster? Lobster is tricky to cook at the best of times but this one was cooked well only on the verge of over cooking as the tail was just about going chewy. I didn’t mind too much though as I dipped, double dipped, then dipped once more into that garlic butter. I dipped lobster tail, lobster claw, fries, squid and even a forkful of pork into that magical potion of happiness and didn’t regret a single three hour long lung honking moment of it.
The puds didn’t start off quite so well with the menu we were provided with – future pubs please note: I do not want to be given a page stained with some mysterious brown substance. It’s unpleasant and it allows me, the diner, to form several (probably unwarranted) assumptions about other parts of your establishment which I know you don’t want me to make.
The puddings themselves were actually really tasty with both coming in for only positive comments from both of the two sweet toothed sugar fiends at the table. The pistachio meringue was fruity, enormous, light and meringue-y . To be honest, you can’t really go wrong with some fresh fruit nuts and a mahoosive meringue but the peanut butter parfait was perfect. Soft but still frozen, it was a hunk of sweet and salty heaven. Delicious.
All in all with the exception of the peanut butter parfait and the garlic butter, I’m afraid the end result of my time at The Embankment was pretty mediocre at best. Perhaps I’ve been too lucky recently with some great examples of pubs getting things right that I’ve forgotten how things are in the rest of the world. But then again, with others upping their game, I’m afraid that The Embankment feels like it’s getting left behind. On the positive side, this place used to be a regular spot for Mrs P when she was based that way and she assures me that you can usually rely upon The Embankment for consistently good food.
As I said, we were invited for a meal but if we had paid, it would have come out at over 60 quid plus drinks which is pretty much par for the course but I’ve had better and paid less so I cant say it screams value either.
*There are some, I promise.