Review: Old Swan & Minster Mill - Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire

Food: 7
Service: 3
Atmosphere: 2
Location: 8

It is imperative before visiting any restaurant to check it out online first. Check the review sites, check the website, have a good gawp at the menu to see if you actually want to eat any of their pabulum. Everyone does that, right? None of this "let's just take a chance and try it" malarkey. If you are one of those chancers who just walks into a restaurant without doing at least 5 minutes of Googling beforehand then you must be clinically insane (and will probably turn out to be a serial killer).

I was rather excited for the Old Swan & Minster Mill - in fact, I thoroughly insisted we went there. Being a non-meat-eater, the food selection at restaurants tends to be rather thin on the ground so you can imagine how my eyes lit up when I saw ' Wild mushroom ravioli topped with parmesan and toasted pine nuts'. Finally, a place that didn't just serve herbivores a dry, depressing veggie burger!

12 noon. We pull into the rather full car park, stomachs growling, longing for a good plate of food. A brand new Ferrari 488 GTB sits smugly across two parking spaces - as revenge we park our 2007 Ford Galaxy dangerously close to the driver's door. That'll show the bastards.

We make our way towards the entrance, passing a sign reading "All children left abandoned will be sold to the circus", and step into the dimly lit former mill. As we walk towards the baron bar, we notice a distinct lack of any human life - it was as though we'd traveled into the future to some dystopian version of Earth after Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have had their hissy fit that led to the extinction of homo sapiens.

After three or four minutes of standing around, a mustachioed man (French I assume given his accent) takes us to a table in an empty dining room. There is no music, just the distant sounds of pots being bashed together in the kitchens and the hum of an air conditioning unit above us. The Frenchman then disappears into the shadows as a waitress hands us each a menu then hurries off to bring us a bottle of water for the table. To my amazement, it is a different waitress who delivers the bottle to the table. Following that, a fresh-faced young waiter with a notepad places his groin dangerously close to my head as he takes our order (there was a distinct smell of musk radiating from his crotch). We'd only been there 5 minutes and had already been served by four members of staff.

After 25 minutes of sitting in the quiet with nothing but awkward family conversation to keep us sane, a totally new waitress brings us our food.

At this point I'd just like to stress that I'm not making it up about the number of wait staff who are serving our table independently. I wish this was some "bit" I had prepared but honestly, there were more staff than customers in there.

Having paid £15 for this plate of ravioli I expected, justifiably, a full plate of food...I mean, is that too much to ask?

A jaunty black plate is placed in front of me with ten pieces of petite ravioli with a couple of pieces of rocket sprinkled on top - because all chefs seem to think that rocket makes a plate of food look like the Mona Lisa. I spend a minute or two looking for the "parmesan and toasted pine nuts" that I was promised, however, it quickly became apparent that it was devoid of both. Being British and not wanting to cause a fuss, I said nothing to the waitress as she brought out the remaining plates of food for the rest of my family.

She then asked if we wanted any sauces with our meals - my sister had ordered a burger so asked for ketchup, and off the waitress scampered. 30 seconds later yet another waitress appeared at the table asking if we would like any sauces. "Ketchup please", asked my sister for a second time, and again the waitress disappeared round the corner. After 10 minutes of eating it became apparent that the ketchup was never going to arrive.

Despite the hundred-plus staff members that seemed to work there, we couldn't find a single person around to ask, they had all vanished. Where did they go? Where did they come from? Questions. No answers. A dry burger it is then.

My ravioli was actually delicious, the filling was sublime: rich, earthy, buttery. If there was anyone around I would have asked for a recipe. I just wish I had more than ten tiny pieces, also a sauce wouldn't go amiss.

£15 for this? It was nice but we had been to a Wetherspoons in Oxford the day before and had payed half the price for food and service that was twice as good. They actually do a cracking veggie burger!

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