WITH the Super Mare and Landing Light opening in the last couple of years, Weston’s Bucket and Spade suffered as a consequence. Situated opposite Morrisons, the Bucket and Spade began as a Wacky Warehouse and was the go to restaurant for families who wanted to entertain the kids and enjoy cheap food. Unfortunately, the budget priced food began to taste cheap and the Wacky Warehouse would be bought out by the Two for Ten franchise.
With Hungry Horse matching the cheap prices and the Landing Light offering a slightly more ‘upmarket’ cuisine, it was extremely hard for Two for Ten to find a solid market and, within recent months, suffered the threat of closure. But Harvester has seized the opportunity, refurbished the building and opened for business, with seemingly mixed reviews.
The outdoor play area is no more but Harvester have kept the newly named Fuzzy Eds indoor soft play area. Inside, the new Weston Gateway Harvester looks completely different from its humble origins and it’s fair to say the decorators have done a very nice job. You’re met with the lengthy and open bar upon entering the premises and walk to face the free unlimited salad, sauce and toppings bar as well as the drinks vending machine.
There’s some nice décor on the walls and the tables seem quite nicely spaced out. As previously mentioned, there has been some mixed reviews from early restaurant-goers with some enjoying the new food but others already threatening to never go back after having such a bad experience. So as you can imagine there was some apprehension upon venturing into the establishment.
The staff were quite hit and miss with some being very welcoming and friendly but others didn’t seem too bothered about the customers. Some were quite offish when serving and slightly scowled as we walked around. They also didn’t seem too happy at us taking pictures of the place. The unfriendly did however seem to be in the minority as others were always eager to help and, despite their obvious inexperience in some cases, looked after the customers well.
We went on a Sunday night and were quickly told that they had ran of chips but could replace them with either sweet potato mash or sweet potato fries. As the meals we wanted didn’t come with chips anyway we weren’t too displeased but for a high chain restaurant to run out of chips within the first couple of weeks of opening, it either screams of poor ordering or a lack of anticipation for a lot of custom.
It didn’t end there though, on another table customers were informed that they had ran out of chicken and, later on, steak. We were also told that they had ran out of Halloumi Skewers. Running out of one thing is arguably acceptable but to run out of so many things like this, it really doesn’t send out a good message to its customers.
Without the Halloumi Skewers, we settled on the three sharing starters for £12. As our mission statement is to try all things new, we decided to try the three other new sharing starters; the Sweet Potato & Red Onion Skewers, Dorset Cheese Bites and the Grilled Chorizo with Padron Peppers. If you’ve never been to a Harvester you need to be aware that the portion sizes for the prices aren’t very big. So if you want a lot of food for a decent price, the Super Mare is still probably the place to go.
The Grilled Chorizo was quite juicy and flavourful and the Sweet Potato & Red Onion Skewers offered something different without a whole lot of taste. When you think about Cheese Bites you expect to bite into a crisp shell and meet some gooey cheese that oozes out of the bite. Unfortunately the Cheese Bites were burnt and the outside shell tasted a bit like burnt parsnips or roast potatoes. Because of this, you could barely taste the cheese and these were extremely underwhelming.
The free salad bar has always been an enticing touch by Harvester. Customers will try and get as much bread and salad as they possibly can as we Brits seem to go mad for anything that’s free. There’s ample choice on the salad bar including new shredded cabbage, olives, gherkins and pickled onions.
As for mains, we ordered the Smoked Pork & Bramley Apple Sausage Whirl and the Smoked Bacon Belly. Dress it up as much as you want, it’s basically sausage and chips and bacon and chips which cost a whopping £20. Both meals came with a grilled apple and if you like mushy apples then great. But the meals would probably be enhanced by infusing the apple into the meats rather than having an apple on the side. The taste and smell of the apple seemed unnatural as it wasn’t surrounded by pastry or a crumble and really didn’t taste very nice. Again if you like mushy warm apples then you will like this unique side.
The Sausage Whirl tasted quite nice. The sausage was arguably quite thin but it was juicy albeit a little hard in places. The bacon however was extremely disappointing. When you hear the word belly you expect chunks of pork that are very salty but very tender and extremely moreish. But this expectation was diminished when a plate with very brown and greasy rashers of bacon were stacked on a plate. Like the cheese bites, these tasted burnt. They were on the burnt side of charred and if that’s how you like your bacon then you would have liked this. But comparing this dish to what you expect pork belly to taste like, as well as spending £11.99, it was quite disappointing.
Undoubtedly, Harvester will ride the wave of being a newly opened establishment and that will bring customers in their droves to begin with. But if they continue to be met with numerous missing items and burnt food, that wave will quickly crash back into the sea. It could well just be teething problems and a restaurant should never be written off after just one sitting but this new edition to the Harvester family does seem to have its work cut out and it’s going to take more than nice décor and some welcoming staff to turn it around.