‘HAVE you enjoyed your meal?’ has become a perfunctory question as your waiter or waitress gathers your dishes.
It’s invariably delivered in a ritualistic tone expecting nothing else but an answer in the affirmative – and, for the most part, the answer is usually along the lines of ‘Yes, very nice - it was lovely’.
Occasionally, you feel obliged to point out one or two shortcomings. These are often ignored, as if they are incapable of broaching any criticism – ‘Oh good, glad you enjoyed it’. Or they can be met with an insincere frown – ‘Sorry about that’ – while eyeing you as if they always knew you were going to be a troublemaker.
Well, at the Sandy Box, you will get none of negative service outlined above.
Our two waiters, a young man and woman, were charm itself with quite the best table manners I’ve encountered in a good while.
They are one of the big reasons that the vibe at the Sandy Box has such a warm and high-spirited vibe, full of bonhomie.
There’s a genial buzz about the place the second you step in – in our case with a great Jimmy Cliff song playing in the background.
It bills itself as a Hawaiian and Caribbean restaurant and the decor reinforces the calypso mood, with several giant photographs of beaches on some island paradise.
Having created the mood, what’s the food like? Well, readers, that gets the thumbs up too.
I have to say the seating isn’t ideal as I was perched on a high chair while my wife sat in padded comfort on the bench.
We’d read about the exotic cocktails served up to rave reviews on TripAdvisor but I plumped for my favourite, a mojito. I took a sip and frowned. Have they forgotten the sugar? The waitress spotted my minor distress and I asked about the recipe. It turns out they make their own syrup from demerara and go for a lighter touch. My sweet tooth craved more and it was quickly satisfied with an extra shot of syrup.
My wife loved her Club Tropicana ale, declaring it the tastiest brew she’d had in ages.
After a run through of the menu, I opted for the rack of pork ribs and my wife opted for the Catch of the Day, a fish curry.
Being the naturally suspicious type, I thought her fish would be one of those second division type of fishes – so I asked.
Our waitress assured us it was halibut and it duly arrived, beautifully seared on the skin side and cooked to perfection. It came on a bed of fluffy rice and with a aromatic rather than spicy curried vegetable sauce.
My rack of ribs was almost perfect, winning full marks for tangy meaty goodness but a tad on the cool side. I’d have preferred a steak knife to slice it up with too – although my fingers did the rest.
It came with two half cobs of corn and I’d opted for some sweet potato chips as a side dish. It was a very good choice.
The chips were crispish, which is hard to with sweet potato if you have ever tried. They came in a Spam can – and that’s Spam with a capital S.
I happen to be a devotee of the blue and yellow canned luncheon meat, having no truck with its bland insipid counterparts. I just about lived on Spam through my school days and can get
misty eyed at the memory of Spam and panyan, a pickle sadly no longer with us.
Anyway, Spam fritters are one of the Sand Box’s specialities – again to rave reviews – and I’m still scratching my head why I didn’t try them out. Next time definitely.
Satiated and delighted with the drinks, food and service, neither of us had room for a pudding but judging on the former, no doubt they are good too.
Word of mouth is spreading about the Sandy Box. It deserves all the praise it is getting on TripAdvisor and we’ll definitely be going again.
See full story in the Chester Leader