The British undoubtedly has deep and strong attachment to their pubs and restaurants – and in recent years, even to fast-food chains. In fact, many dining establishments can be considered as hubs of the community where families and friends enjoy good food, good company, and good times.
Of the dozens of restaurant chains in the United Kingdom, Wetherspoons and Harvester stand head and shoulders above the rest and here’s why. But it’s also important to know their differences so that you can make the right decision depending on your dining mode and mood for the day.
The Overall Ambiance
Wetherspoons pubs are so well-known in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland that in many places, these are actually popular across generations. There are, in fact, more than 1,000 locations, across the country from large metropolitan cities to growing towns. The buildings where the pubs are located can be characterized as unconventional for modern pubs but it adds to their appeal.
Each pub, nonetheless, has open plan layouts so the combination of dining room and full bar has a seamless look to it. The spacious areas allow guests to mingle with others and provide enough space for them. The walls are typically covered with original photographs and paintings so there’s a local feel and a casual ambiance.
The operating hours in Wetherspoons pubs are suitable for the modern lifestyle. Diners start streaming into the pubs early in the morning for their classic British and Irish breakfasts, and then continue well into the night for dinner and after-dinner drinks. The diners come from diverse backgrounds, too, from young professionals, entrepreneurs and executives to families with their children; the restaurants are almost always lively for this reason.
The chain of Harvester restaurants are more into casual dining with a family-friendly atmosphere with efficient waiter service. The restaurants have a contemporary rustic feel with the farmhouse-inspired décor. The casual atmosphere is punctuated by the lively buzz of diners enjoying their food, while the television screens mounted on walls provide entertainment while waiting for your food.
Unlike many casual dining restaurants, Harvester restaurants actually have friendly and efficient waiters who deliver the food and drinks to the tables. Parents with their kids appreciate it because it means skipping the lines and putting the time to good use, such as by keeping the kids entertained with toys, books and conversations.
The Food and Drinks
The competitive prices at Wetherspoons are made even more affordable with the chain’s weekly food promotions, sometimes on a near-daily basis. Weekdays are the best days to come here because there’s a featured menu for each day – steaks on Tuesday, chicken wings on Wednesday, Indian curries on Thursday, and fish on Fridays.
Every day of the week, Wetherspoons has a full range of food on the menu. There’s something for the meat lovers, the vegans and vegetarians although we must also say that Wetherspoons being a pub, the meat dishes are the stars.
The highly recommended items include the turkey pie, a delicious pie with sage and onion pastry, tender turkey meat, and traditional stuffing of pork, chestnut, and cranberry. The vegetarian Wellington is a must-try, too, even when you’re a meat eater, thanks to its savory flavors from the mushrooms, spinach, Brie, hazelnuts and cranberries. Both dishes are served with your choice in mash, gravy or chips, as well as offered at the same price.
There are also desserts that every person with a sweet tooth will find satisfying. We recommend the milk honeycomb cheesecake, creamy and rich dessert; white chocolate and cranberry muffin, a sweet yet tart combo; and Christmas pudding for kids and kids at heart.
The Wetherspoons pubs being what they are, there’s a full bar in every location. The menu features ales and ciders as well as the usual beers and wines. And don’t forget to attend the drinks-centered festivals including the Ale Festival and the Cider Festival.
Unlike Wetherspoons with its quintessential British and Irish fare, the Harvester menu have Middle America roots with a touch of British cuisine. The most popular item is the spit-roasted chicken, a tender, juicy and succulent meat that will have you writing your mother back home. Just so you can add a healthy something to your meal, you may want to add a generous helping of salad from the DIY salad cart.
And yes, there’s also a full bar in every Harvester restaurant. The choices include a wide range of cocktails, spirits, beers and wines. The desserts selection is limited but the desserts themselves are excellent in capping your meal; the choices include Cookies N Cream with Oreo and Rocky Horror.
Which of the two chains are the best? We have to say that each chain has its own merits and target market so, in many ways, there’s little to compare them with. The more important thing when choosing between the two is first determining which ones will satisfy your current need for good food, good company, and good service.