Word of mouth is a great way of getting people through the doors of any restaurant.
So when a chef I was speaking to recently raved about the ribs at the Iron Horse Ranch House at Market Deeping, that was good enough for me.
So we booked a table - something I would recommend because it seems to be an incredibly popular place - and headed over for Saturday lunch.
I must admit I loved the concept and the venue itself - there’s a couple of big roadhog motorbikes on show and lots of paraphernalia to do with rock ‘n’ roll adorning the walls. Even the background music hails from that era.
The decor and fittings really work and the menu conjours up visions of something special and from across the Atlantic - hot dogs, burgers, ribs, fried chicken, waffles, milkshake and pancakes.
Sadly it didn’t quite live up to my grand expectations, which was a shame as I imagine on a good day this would be a great place to hang out.
First the little things like booking a table with two children but having to ask for a child’s menu.
Even then they got our two-year-old’s main course wrong, and never brought out the dessert at all until we asked - after ours had arrived.
A bit of that you can understand; it was busy and you could see staff were working hard buzzing around everywhere.
But when it comes to the food, even in a busy kitchen major deficiencies are unforgivable.
My dinner, I have to say, was bang on the money, pretty much everything I could have asked for without being greedy.
My “Rockin Rick’s” barbecue ribs (single portion £10.95) were delicious. Thick and meaty and covered in a quite wonderful sticky sauce. And the serving was just about right.
The mustard mash was okay - I could see the seeds but couldn’t taste them - and was improved by the tasty little pot of gravy . I also enjoyed the crunchy, creamy home-made slaw.
Donna’s, however, was way off the mark and didn’t at all capture the vision conjoured up by Ranch Fried Catfish (£9.95).
Admittedly the fish was light, soft and quite enjoyable. But it came deep fried in a very bland southern coating that lacked any kind of flavour let alone any noticable spices.
The same sadly applied to the Iron Horse fries - a sort of rustic spicy wedge that weren’t at all spicy.
Desserts – knickerbockerglory and cheesecake - were decent without being inspiring and I thought the children’s meal (even though let down by the service) was reasonable value - a hot dog with vegetable batons, drink and dessert for £5.50, all of which went down a treat.
Our American diner adventure should have spelt Happy Days but we couldn’t help feeling a little bit saddened by the whole thing.
Brad’s Rating: 6
Venue: The Iron Horse Ranch House, 3 Market Gate, Market Deeping. Tel 01778 346952 www.ironhorseranchhouse.co.uk