Matt and Cat pride themselves on leaving no type of eatery unreviewed. They have shared their opinions on the Island’s only Michelin-starred restaurant and also enjoyed food at Dodnor’s Cappuccino wagon. Basically, if the public are invited to eat there, M&C will give it a punt.
It may come as a surprise to readers that the St Mary’s Hospital has a restaurant. Even more unexpected is the fact that it is not just for staff, patients and visitors but anyone can eat there. Cat was therefore delighted to be invited to lunch one day at ‘Full Circle’ restaurant.
For Matt and Cat, a visit to the hospital has either involved some kind of personal discomfort or, less invasively, an intimate look at the life of the hospital pond’s wildlife. Other than a stroll around the grounds they have never really considered the hospital a place of recreation so it was a pleasure to walk into the bustling reception without the necessity of a pre-examination wash.
The lobby of St Mary’s Hospital is a busy place; all human life is there. From purposeful staff, anxious customers and tourists like Cat who was just there for the fun of it. Led by her pals up the stairs to the restaurant, she passed pleasing tapestries, glass artworks and paintings – a far cry from the clinical landscape of Carry On Matron‘s days.
The restaurant is a bright room with vast windows overlooking the hospital grounds and the notorious Land, Sea, Light Koan. The room had the evocative acoustics of a school dinner hall; low murmurings, scraping chairs and the clatter of dining utensils. However, it did not give Cat the anxious feeling that she used to have at school, when she knew that her lunch break would be followed by rain-soaked double hockey or some other sadistic PE.
Although it brands itself as a restaurant, Full Circle operates like a canteen. Chummy staff line up behind troughs of hot meals, illuminated by warming lamps. There was a good and well-recommended range of dishes: lasagne, jacket spuds and curry. And, quite correctly, there was a vast selection of healthy eating options, particularly salads. Cat, who had plans for that evening which – as usual – involved eating, only wanted a modest lunch so she made her way to the sandwich bar. The lady behind the counter had a choice of breads (white, brown, baguette, granary baguette) and even more options for fillings. Cat was particularly pleased to be asked if she wanted butter in her sarnie. There is often a presumption that everyone likes some sort of bread lubricant in their sandwiches but, if you’re going to have tuna mayonnaise – like Cat did – do you really need that extra layer of grease? [Yes, says Matt]. Cat watched the be-gloved lady make her tuna and tomato sandwich and considered that, as food preparation operatives, the hospital staff must surely be extremely hygiene-aware.
Grabbing a bottle of Pepsi from the chiller, Cat paid for her lunch and went and sat with her friends. There was quite a crowd of them and they rearranged some tables so that they could sit together. Their host, who had recently been employed by the hospital, explained how he lunched almost daily in the restaurant and listed out his favourite dishes. Those around him murmured their assent as they tucked into their food. Cat, taking a nibble of her sandwich bobbed her head in accord. The bread was wonderfully soft, the tuna adequately mayonnaised and the slices of tomato were big and juicy. As she ate, Cat watched the restaurant’s other patrons. There was an eclectic mix of people in uniforms, dressing gowns and civvies, like the cast of Holby.
Soon it was time to leave. Cat considered her Full Circle lunch. Although her choice of food was modest, it could not be faulted and the comments from her friends of their dishes were very favourable. Perhaps rather than a nostalgic school dinner-type experience, the restaurant was more like an Ikea canteen; well-presented good value food in a bright and clean environment.