I used to really like Wetherspoons when I was younger – there was a huge one in Cambridge where I went to university inside a converted cinema, and when I was on my post-grad journalism course in London, we would regularly congregate around one giant table in a Wetherspoons in Islington. But I guess over the past few years I’ve gotten more used to nice gastropubs. I have nothing against the food in Wetherspoons and I think the choice of meals available, the fact that they were ahead of the curve at adding calorie counts to the menu, and the very accessible prices are great. But there’s something about the pubs themselves that I just don’t enjoy any more.
I reviewed the Grapes, a Wetherspoon pub in Sutton, in 2014 and wasn’t that impressed by the décor. This time I went to the Whispering Moon in Wallington, just across the road from the train station.
On Wednesday nights at the moment I’m taking a cake decorating course in Wallington, and don’t really have time to go home from work and then back out to college – usually I get to Wallington half an hour before the class, and either take a sandwich with me or pop into Tesco to buy something to eat on the way. This time however I managed to get an earlier train, and had almost a whole hour to kill. I didn’t see the point of sitting in an empty classroom, and we are not allowed to eat in the classroom anyway –plus, I’d only been able to have sandwiches for lunch as I’d been on a training course (I usually try to have something hot so I can then have a sandwich in the evening before class).
So I decided to treat myself to dinner in a pub and thought that the Whispering Moon would be quick (which it was), cheap (which it was) and a nice place to sit and pass some time (which it wasn’t).
I found a table and as there were no menus, I went to get one from the bar – and realised when I got back to my table that the menu was sticky, which wasn’t very nice. I went back to the bar to order my food; I paid less than £8 I think for a lasagne and a drink, which came to my table less than ten minutes later, delivered by a pleasant young waiter. The lasagne came on a plate with a side salad in a small bowl and a jug of salad dressing which I thought was good – to allow customers to add as much as they liked. The lasagne was pretty cheap tasting though – it reminded me of a ready meal and the edges had been overcooked so were inedible. It wasn’t actually a bad meal for what it was – if I had been able to make it home and back before my class, I would only have had time to bung a ready meal in the microwave, and this is pretty much what it tasted like.
The pub was quite noisy even for 6.30 on a Wednesday night with people shouting across the pub to each other – I was glad I was ensconced in a corner but despite still having some time to kill before the class I decided not to linger any longer and sit instead in the quiet classroom. As I said, I have nothing against Wetherspoons for a cheap meal, but I don't really spend much time in them any more.