Some time ago I wrote a blog about food memories . That blog described how certain foods could transport you back to a time and place and remind you of the great times you had. While we have been in England this time we have been disappointed at the quality and price of restaurant/pub food. I consider myself to be a reasonable home cook and will try many different recipes, so when I do go out for a meal I expect the food to be as good as, better or different to what I can cook at home. Given the high cost of eating out I think we all expect that. So many times I have been disappointed. In England in the past, pub food may not have been exciting but it was reasonably priced and the portions were large so you sort of felt like you got value for money. These days most pub meals are still quite big but they lack flavour and imagination and aren't that cheap (£10-£16 for a main). With so many cooking shows on TV now many of us are "armchair critics". We are more knowledgable about food, quality of produce and techniques required to make a memorable meal. I'm sure if I went to the Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal's restaurant in Bray, I would be amazed by the techniques, the taste of the food and the overall experience but I would also be very much poorer. You shouldn't have to spend big bucks to get a good meal that is better than what you can cook at home.
We are really looking forward to being in France where you do (or did - hopefully that hasn't changed in the last 12 months) get good food at reasonable prices. Many restaurants serve a plat du jour where you basically eat what was bought fresh at the market that day. There is no or little choice - if you don't like it you choose the next restaurant but you can get a two course meal for between €10 and €12($A14-17).
The other thing that makes a meal expensive is the drinks you have with the meal. I have to admit that I have been pleasantly surprised by the low cost of beer and cider here in the UK, however, wine and spirits are still pricey although not quite as expensive as Australia. This is also where France wins hands down. You can go into a restaurant and have a glass of wine for about €3 - it may be only house wine but I don't think we have had a bad white wine in France on any of our trips.
Roll on France!