Popham in your mouth – the black puddings!
A few of us were on the road from London to Torquay for a birthday party and realised that we drive right past Popham. There is very little of note in this sleepy little village not far from Stonehenge. There is a small service station with Little Chef. Having always found Little Chef’s dark, gloomy, overpriced with the worst food ever, what made us stop here and wait half an hour to get a table?
A couple of years ago, that nerdy chef who spends more time in a lab than in a kitchen – Heston Blumenthal – took a challenge with Little Chef to convert one of their service station restaurants’ food to something a little more inviting and edible. As it was 11am and as we were exactly half way between London and Torquay, it seemed like a good place to check out.
The first thing you notice is the absence of old dark wood and dirty curtains. The sun was shining and the place was bathed in a beautiful light, showing off the bright colours of a long bar around which tall stools stood, right next to the open kitchen. This was very inviting but also full of people so after a short wait, we were seated at a booth and handed menus by a surprisingly cheerful waitress. She took our drinks order and left us to devour the lengthy menu.
Heston’s specials stand out in red letters and a different font on the menu so its easy to choose if that’s what you’ve come here to try. We all went for the breakfast menu and I chose the Olympics Breakfast. Our hot drinks arrived and again, it was a pleasant surprise to get a decent cappuccino and filter coffee.
My breakfast was a handmade all pork sausage with bacon, chips, beans, a field mushroom, two free range eggs and the best black pudding I’ve ever tasted! In fact it was so good that I decided to write this post just to mention the black pudding!
Before leaving, I went to use the facilities and was taken aback when someone shouted out an order from behind me in the cubicle. It turned out that there are individual speakers in the toilets which play peculiar sounds and music! Slightly unnerving! But on the whole a good experience all round!
Why can’t all other Little Chef’s be transformed into the same style and food as Popham? Beats me!