It looks nice doesn’t it Wildwood Kitchen, sexy, sleek, bright, modern, just what Abingdon has been crying out for. Which just proves that a good interior designer counts for nothing if you can’t deliver a decent meal on a plate.

Mr Greedy is still in therapy actually after our disastrous meal at its newly-opened Abingdon branch, although the shaking and nightmares seem to have, momentarily at least, stopped.

He didn’t object initially, the unease only beginning when we actually arrived at the Abbey shopping centre location. Things hadn’t been helped by having to navigate the teeth-grindingly irritating one-way system, parking in the multi-storey and searching for Wildwood Kitchen in the pouring rain.

But hey ho, we persisted with optimism. It was 6pm on a Saturday; prime time for families catching a bite to eat one would have thought. And yet when we arrived Wildwood Kitchen was largely empty, the staff were too busy replenishing the bar to take much notice.

Eventually we were led to a table around the back in this largely atmosphereless space, the low, haunting music doing little to lift the mood. It was cold as well.

Bearing in mind that all children are ticking time bombs, speed has to be of the essence in any ‘family-friendly’ restaurant, yet 20 minutes later we had to flag someone down to ask for a drink, children’s menus, crayons and then to actually order our food. Our drinks arrived but were taken to the wrong table. Only one children’s menu was brought causing a fight.

Doom set in, the children began to look around nervously, it was obvious that something wasn’t quite right. Neighbouring couples stared despondently at each other, trying to eke some fun out of the no food/no service style ambience.

We waited, and waited. Empires fell, tournaments were won and lost, the world expanded: “Where is our food?” my daughter eventually piped up. “I’m hungry.”

The waitress told us the kitchens were being very slow and the manager had gone to trace our starters. I’d hate to see what happens when it’s busy. Finally, by the time I had aged considerably, renewed my mortgage, changed my gas and electricity tariff, and considered cannibalism, our paltry starters arrived: some morbid looking garlic bread, a bruschetta which instead of a chargrilled, oiled and garlicked slice of Italian toast with chopped tomatoes, herbs and oil, was presented as a slice of bread with some halved plum tomatoes on it, impossible to eat because the bread was so chewy.

Mr Greedy, who was by now raising his eyebrows in an alarming manner, giving him a slightly manic look, had the salt and pepper squid, supposedly with chilli, ginger and sesame dressing, although it was irrelevant because they were so overcooked that the batter broke off and the squid was chewier than a tractor tyre in a glue factory.

“It’s OK, you can’t mess up a pizza,” I reassured them all, as we waited interminably again for our mains, well into the second hour by now. They appeared covered in so much cheese it had turned into a hard rubbery coating that you could seal a shower with and then baked in the oven until the crusts were so hard they could chip enamel.

“Sorry about the wait,” out waitress said, having dragged herself away from a conversation with some friends at the next door table. Will there be anything else? “Some cutlery would be good,” Mr Greedy said in a voice that would have won him a part in The Godfather. “You do know that’s chilli oil don’t you,” she interrupted as he lubricated his £9.95 carne pizza (no prizes for guessing its flavour). “Yes,” he added in a chilling whisper.

My daughter spent a good five minutes trying to cut through her margherita (£6.95) with the cutter we had to ask for.

Eventually we all gave up and just ate the bit in the middle, the crusts fighting back with a ferocity Jaws would be proud of. “Mine is too salty to eat,” my 10-year-old pizza-loving-obsessive declared, words we never expected to hear – she’d eat a plastic bag if it had cheese and tomato sauce on it.

“My carbonara is good though,” my youngest said staunchly, always one for the underdog. The rosé wine was good too and having not intended on drinking at all I was now well down my second large glass.

“At least the ice cream might be nice?”, the kids asked hopefully. “No,” Mr Greedy added, head in hands. “We are going home.” Leaving the bill paid on the table we left, much to the staff’s bewilderment, never to return.

“That was the worst meal I have ever had,” he added furiously on the way home, en route to our local pub for a swift sharpener. Not one to be repeated then. And I might let the dust settle before I suggest another family meal out, that’s if he’s talking to me by then.

Sun-Thurs Noon - 10.30pm 
Fri-Sat Noon - 11pm
ABINGDON: 1-3 Abbey Shopping Centre OX14 3QY
01235 426800
Unit 19, The Orchard Centre, 8 Station Road, OX11 7LL
43 Market Place
OX12 8AW or 01235 424327