Dining in the time of pandemic: takeaways reviewed

28 March 2020

9:00 AM

28 March 2020

9:00 AM

I love eating while watching bad films like Battleship, so I love takeaway food from local restaurants. I am not rich enough to like the idea of takeaway from Simpson’s in the Strand and a plastic lid does not have the drama of a silver-plated dome. But eating takeaway food while watching Battleshipis not my job, or at least it wasn’t until now, in the era of pandemic. The fine restaurants shuttered swiftly but the local restaurants offered takeaway, and I supported them. It is not indolence to order takeaway in the time of pandemic and, if you don’t, when this is over there will only be either Simpson’s in the Strand or KFC and Domino’s Pizza, and that is not a world anyone would wish to live in.

The fishing port of Newlyn has many restaurants for a village, but we have the passing trade to Mousehole, and people get fish-fatigue too; that is why we still have a butcher’s shop. Fishermen won’t eat fish. The Meadery, a chicken shack styled like a medieval castle in a former art deco cinema, offered takeaway; so did Aunty May’s, which does the best pasties in the south-west; so did the Bridge restaurant, which sits by one of Newlyn’s five bridges over the Coombe River. I do not know why we have five bridges within 300 yards of each other. I do not know why there is Nazi insignia painted on a shipping container by the fish processing plant either.

Before the lockdown we gorged from the Bridge, a perfect Italian restaurant placed, seemingly randomly, at the edge of Europe, and this is odd, and pleasing. But then it has an Italian manager.

We gorged for victory, which isn’t as hard as digging for victory, or as stupid as Ant Middleton from Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins refusing to ‘socially distance’ for victory because he wants to find, and punch, coronavirus. Doesn’t he know it is not a Nazi? That we are not re-fighting the second world war with very tiny Allied and Nazi soldiers? We ordered pappardelle bolognese and pizza carni and Cornish ice-cream, and it was all glorious; but local restaurants are glorious. I would have reviewed more of them in London, but I didn’t really want to share them. Now I live in Cornwall, I can. If you don’t order takeaway from the Little Thai in South End Green or from Paradise, also in South End Green, you are a fool.

One by one they closed, and we were left with Domino’s Pizza, which reminds me of fighting with my husband, because when we fight he sometimes orders a Mighty Meaty and lets the smell linger in his study, to bespeak his rage. He has a Mighty Meaty again, a name which, considering the fat content, reeks of denial. It is an awful thing to look at, and smell. It is covered with orange pepperoni, wet ham, sludgy beef and yellowish sausage. Nothing would induce me to eat it — and I ate a worm once for a Daily Mail stunt piece — so I cannot tell you what it tastes like. The cheese and tomato pizza is rather better, because I customise it with fresh tomato and garlic paste and it blooms into something semi-edible. I still feel dirty afterwards, though. Not as dirty as I would at KFC, whose finger–licking marketing is having something of a crisis, for obvious reasons, but dirty all the same. I think that is the point of it.

So, takeaway replaces dining, at least for now. Get the best you can; restaurateurs are some of the finest people there are. I wish you well, unless of course, you are eating your stupid hoard of toilet paper with a knife and fork, in which case I curse you, because you do not deserve tomato passata, or anything.

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The Bridge,; Domino’s Pizza,

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