“ Address: Pingle Drive / Bicester / Oxfordshire / OX26 6WB „
Tel. 01869 246562
Mon - Sat: 11:00-23:00
Food available from 11:00 - 21:00 daily
'The Acorn' has the appearance of an old school; all that is missing is a school bell.
You can guarantee you'll end up at 'The Acorn' at some point during your visit to the Bicester Shopping Outlet called Bicester Village. Everyone has heard of it yet most bypass the shopping outlet guessing it is in Bicester Town. Observe the public House 'The Acorn' on the round-about, take the road adjacent to the pub - by doing so, your within touching distance of the 'Village' or if all else fails, ask a village idiot at The Acorn, it is worth it just to see their eyes roll and huff with exasperation. One of the occupation hazards of working at the pub within several hundred yards from Bicester's retail fun-park, where the world seems to descend on as if it is one of those places you have to visit before your inevitable demise.
The Acorn is part of the retail park experience, the public house establishment works as a kind of charity box for the good of the local 'Village people' who work, rest and play in the pub. There simple-mindedness have got to be admired - from bar work to taking food orders, cooking the food orders and then serving the food orders with a... weak smile, not forgetting handing out the condiments and cutlery and napkins. Getting it right, in that order can be confusing for the 'Village people' but when all else fails, a meek smile, will do. I don't require US style Beauty Queen/King pageant smiles - till the dimpled cheeks ache. I find mediocrity acceptable, unlike the Hyacinth Bouquets' of this world who conveniently forget the staff are on zero hour contracts and on a pitiful pittance and demand more customer service for their money and conveniently forget to tip on the premise they received two more ice-cubes in their beverage more than they would've liked. The clientele are indeed of a certain type; who take their culinary connoisseur-ness to the cheap Hungry Horse establishment, they expect more for less. You can see why the 'village people' become the 'village idiots.' Over-time their customer service enthusiasm wane due to being incessantly galloped on. They scuff their hooves on the floor, flick their tousles and grunt; this is acceptable behaviour for me. I didn't come in to 'The Acorn' for intellectual discourse or for bogus Beauty Pageant smiles. Our customer service industry reeks it - all I crave for is quietness, non fussiness, and no-one asking me if my fries are to the correct chip-dimensions, or worse still systematically telling me; 'I'd like another pint, or if I'm happy with my varying beige shades of food.' Instead; gauge my happiness level by what is left on the plate.
My Fish and Chips were competently heated up, I had a choice of garden peas or salad with my meal, I gambled on the garden peas being not as pathetic looking as the salad I'd spied on the next table. Two Fish and Chips inclusive of two pints was just shy of sixteen pounds. Comprehensively less than the norm where you would get one meal for the same price - my petits pois were dry and shriveled - probably modelled on an old rocker's scrotum. My Cod must've been a John Travolta of the fish world it was so greasy and crusty. It was a case of 'finding nemo' when it came to seeking white fish, I wished I had the beef lasagne. The chips were made of potato - got the mandatory eighteen seconds in the deep fat fryer before being served up on the 17" plates. Barely chips, just tanned potato sticks - Size matters in the Hungry Horse, perhaps a consideration for those who're never off a diet. Vegetarians are second-class citizens passed off with beans, garlic cloves and cardboard pizzas. The saviour of the meal was the pint of Carlsberg, it tasted of Carlsberg and was sufficiently cold, as it was from the 'Extra Cold' pump; I took a gamble, I wasn't going to get a room temperature offering - A gamble which paid off.
In 2003, 'The Acorn' proudly states it had a make-over 'Gok Wan,' or is it 'Gone Wrong' style - it is hard to decipher - the irksome reality is; it needs 'Ground Force' to flatten it. For an establishment which is spacious, it isn't spatially aware. Three TV monitors are precariously arranged, the children's activity area adjacent to busy roads, the only attraction are the deals. Everyday a deal! 'The Acorn' business acumen is, 'attract the village idiots in; get em fed, n watered, and ship em out.' The opposite to what most of their clientele actually wants, which is a dining experience to match their shopping experience. The powder-rooms are walk-in-depository-units. Obviously not depositing 'little acorns' but stench of manure, depositories of horse - staff check-times are evident, however I assume checking that the 'stable for depositories' are still erect, rather than fit for the 'village people' to use.
I found 'The Acorn' self promotion wholly referring to size, it reads. "The Acorn is best for people who enjoy an *all round* experience. Food is very popular here as you can choose from a main menu and carvery, where everything on offer is fresh, or a delicious *huge* meal from the legendary Hungry Horse menu. All our meals are served on *17" plates* giving *plenty* of room for *masses* of food." There are 205 Hungry Horse establishments on this small island all in a bid to bulge out our waste-lines as cheaply as possible. Doing their utmost to multiply our nations' obesity level - What hope has the village idiot got to sustain a healthy lifestyle after a pounding of the credit card? Being an idiot myself, I know too well how easy it is to enter the Hungry Horse and like a deal gannet get seduced by the enticing Photoshop images, sadly the reality doesn't match the glossy gourmet splendours. 'The Acorn' promotional blurb ends off; "Welcoming everyone, including families and the disabled with good facilities, this is really a pub to be tried and tried again!" 'Tried and tried again? Not for this village idiot, my idiocy is sporadic - once bitten, twice shy.
Plate left half empty.©1st2thebar 2013