I found myself oddly disappointed by a lunchtime visit to the Pagoda Palace restaurant this week. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the meal: there wasn’t. The food was good, in the English Chinese-restaurant style. The deep-fried cuttlefish dumplings for starter were exquisitely formed and the main course of chicken with black bean sauce and green pepper was tasty, as were the plain-fried noodles with beansprouts that I chose to accompany it. Other dishes sampled were of equal quality, though in the seafood dishes flavoured with ‘salt and chilli’ the former is rather too prominent. The venue is great, with a fine location overlooking a lake. Indeed, at an average of £18 for two courses, in comparison with other restaurants in Swindon at lunchtime, at least some of that price would appear to be for the location rather than the food. With the same price in the evening it’s distinctly good value. The service was good too, although the repeated enquiry ‘Would you like anything more to drink?’ was more that a little irksome by its fourth repeat. What let the place down though was that, of the twelve items that the group I was with ordered, three were either not available or, in the case of duck, only available if we were prepared to wait ‘one or two hours’.
The Palace is a large restaurant, seating up to three hundred people, and their menu is long. At lunchtimes, when the number of customers is small (there were only three groups there when we visited, amounting to less than twenty people in total) they should perhaps offer a smaller menu, so that what they offer matches more closely what they can deliver.