‘I tried Harvester for first time – food was bad and I was left stumped by bill’

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    As an Aussie living in the UK, it's taken me a while to learn the ins and outs of British cuisine.

    I've tried Greggs, Wetherspoons and Pizza Express in recent weeks – and now, the time has come to step foot into Harvester for the first time.

    Growing tired of the below-average cuisine I’ve been experiencing while doing these reviews, I was apprehensive.

    READ MORE: 'I tried Wetherspoons food for first time – I feared I'd get scurvy but liked one item'

    The restaurant chain has more than 230 outlets in the United Kingdom, but I headed to one in Ilford.

    And we were off to a good start as I’m not going to lie, I was instantly impressed.

    Not only did I appreciate the cottage-like interior and exterior but as I walked in I was met by a lovely server by the name of Diana, who was an absolute star throughout my entire dining experience.

    Once she took me to my table she talked me through the menu. She was incredibly helpful, steering me away from the garlic bread (she said it was “a bit dry”) and suggesting I try the vegan nachos for my starter instead.

    For the main, I opted for the chilli non carne (I appreciate the name play, as it was vegan) which Diana recommended.

    I said I would try to opt for the three-course lunch deal because with the price of £13.99, how could I not?

    It also included free unlimited salad at the salad bar – and as someone who had no idea they even had a salad bar, this was incredible news.

    I was a particular fan of the curry bean salad with quinoa. I know it sounds disgusting but it was absolutely delish.

    Walking around the salad bar I felt like a kid in a candy store and my friends all seemed to be wooed by it too.

    My friends messaged me telling me how “iconic” it was… but they were less impressed by everything else Harvester has to offer.

    “Fill up on the croutons and crispy onion bits, then you don’t need to eat the grim food,” one friend recommended.

    “The salad bar is iconic, the rest of the food not so much,” said another.

    A third added: “No frills, carpeted, honest British cuisine. The type of place you always order chips as a side in case your meal is a bit s***.”

    I went against my friend’s advice by opting to try everything I ordered.

    It's safe to say I was less than impressed when my nacho's arrived to start with. Thankfully after some of my previous dining experiences, my expectations were low.

    Is it sacrilegious to serve store-bought salsa? Yes. Could I make it better myself? Yes, but the prices (and the salad bar) were still wooing me.

    Now that I’m back at my desk I can see this starter for what it really is – trash. But the guacamole it came with was really really good.

    It’s safe to say I’ll never be back for more. It was simple enough that anyone could make it for themselves at home, you’re really getting what you pay for.

    Next was the chilli non carne. I must say I fell in love with the bowl and plate it come on, where can I get it for myself?!

    And look, the meal itself was fine. The rice was nice, even though you could tell it had been sitting under a heat lamp for a while, and the chilli was edible.

    Again, it was simple and tasted like a homemade meal, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Sadly I was incredibly full so I only managed to fit in two courses, which were cheap as chips at a combined total of £11.99. What a steal.

    I really wanted to try to fit in the vegan sundae (I would have opted for the Belgian chocolate sauce) but I simply couldn’t do it.

    The longer I stayed, the busier it became, and it was absolutely heaving when I left.

    Now that I’m writing this at home, I have digested just how bad the food is… but it’s hard to slander the food when it’s just so cheap.

    These days it’s almost impossible to get three courses for under £30, so I was astounded by Harvester’s prices.

    While the food isn’t going to win any awards any time soon but you can dine like a king (maybe a king with dying taste buds) for no money at all.

    Even though I don’t plan to ever visit a Harvester again, I can see that it fills a need.

    If you’re on the road it would be a pretty good place to visit for a cheap feed.

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