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Last week Thursday was my birthday. It also happened to be the birthday (well, anniversary of independence) of a little known country called France. No, I didn’t go to France (did that for my 30th), but I did enjoy their fine champagne courtesy of a little surprise from the folks at The Lazy Cow Restaurant in Salisbury.

Thankfully, that firework didn’t put anyone’s eye out or cause a fire but it did cause some fanfare. G planned a little getaway surprise for my birthday. This has been a tradition of sorts since 2006 when we went to Dublin for a weekend. This year we kept it affordable and went to Salisbury, a town steeped in history. Salisbury Cathedral boasts the highest spire in all of England and the 4th highest in Europe. It also holds the best of only four remaining copies of the Magna Carta. It’s an amazing and emotional document to behold. The cathedral has a translation for we readers of modern English. I could not have asked for a better day: all-day sunshine; a mix of relaxing in the park, sightseeing, afternoon tea (forthcoming post) and a fabulous dinner. Thank you, G :).

The lovely room I didn't get to stay in

We were supposed to stay in one of the swanky, New York City-inspired, cow-themed rooms at The Lazy Cow, but it wasn’t to be. It was their opening week and the fire alarm had failed. This meant that by law, they couldn’t let any of the rooms until the alarm was functioning again. Drats. TLC did put us up in a neighboring corporate hotel. Huge and far less unique. At the end of our meal, we were given a tour of some of TLC’s rooms. It was very kind of the manager, but also kind of like losing on a game show then being shown what you could have won. G says it was a “Bullseye” moment. Still we enjoyed the restaurant, so let’s get to the fooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!

The menu is full of good, honest food presented with thoughtfulness and quality ingredients. Let’s not forget the fabulous cocktails either. I was so impressed that this English pub with international flare served margaritas (that were actually good!), mojitos and caiphirinas!!! LOVE. The only down-side was that we charged for both margaritas even though the waitress said they were a 2 for 1 :(. Having started with a margarita, I was feeling good. I ordered spicy wings for a starter and G got the salt and pepper squid. Even for this spice-immuned Jamaican tongue, the wings were hot but not so hot as to mask the delectable flavours. The salt and pepper squid was hot, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Exactly what one asks for in calamari.  The service that we received all night was impeccable. We experienced the same at The Lazy Cow in Warwickshire. I assume this is through choosing the right staff and rigorous implementation of customer service values for The Lazy Cow brand. I have yet to see any surly-looking staff members at either location.

G and I both   selected beef for our main dishes. TLC restauraunt specializes in steaks of all sorts. Most of the steaks supplied to the Salisbury location come from a long-established family of butchers, O’Sheas (Dublin and Knightsbridge). The New York strip steak is the only one flown in from the States (Kansas).  G had the rib-eye, which was perfectly grilled to a pink medium, tender to cut and practically melted in our mouths. The steak was accompanied by hot, crisp thick-cut chips. G ordered a side dish of leaks and mushrooms to fill her veggie quotient for the day. Plenty of cream and butter prevent me from including it in the vegetable category, but it was delicious.

I wasn’t much healthier with my choice of sticky beef and Shanghai noodles. The dish was presented in a Chinese-style takeaway box, complete with chopsticks. Perfect. Even with two margaritas and a few glasses of champagne, I can expertly wield a pair of chopsticks. The pieces of beef were tender and very more-ish on account of the sesame chilli sauce, lime and coriander. There was plenty of this dish to be had. Whenever I mix alcohol and food, I get full much quicker so I couldn’t finish my dish. I would definitely have it again, however.

Last up was dessert. If sticky toffee pudding is on any menu, then there is never a question about which sweet treat I will choose. G had the same. By my fifth (and final) drink, I could barely fit anything else in my stomach. However, on principle I don’t skip the pudding course. I asked that the sticky toffee pudding be served with vanilla instead of banana ice cream. (banana bread/cake is one of the few banana-related foods I will eat. For the record, I enjoy fresh bananas). I was disappointed to find that the sponge was too dense and stodgy. Sticky toffee pudding should be much more yielding to the toffee sauce. Though the meal ended on a slightly bum note, things were redeemed when the manager offered us a tour of the rooms and opportunity to learn more about where the steaks come from.

I have stayed and dined at The Lazy Cow in Warwick and highly recommend it and its new sibling in Salisbury. They both serve proper breakfast and even an affordable weekend brunch (win!). The latter is sorely lacking in Birmingham and I just don’t understand why. However, the breakfast chef at Salisbury needs to have a chat with the one in Warwick. Neither my pancakes (very stodgy) nor the eggs Benedict (cold sliced ham!) were up to snuff.

With two locations and plans of rebranding in Putney, The Lazy Cow brand is one to keep on your radar. If you are looking for something unexpected yet familiar and comfortable, give The Lazy Cow a go. You won’t be dissapointed.

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