THIS was meant to be all about the meal delivery service offered by Tejanos, the Tex-Mex restaurant in Northallerton High Street. Never heard of it? Well you are in good company because there are probably many people in and an around the county town who have only vaguest idea of this establishment’s existence.

To say it is tucked away is something of an understatement. It’s above the Lakeland clothing store and accessed up a stairway down a side alley.

The owners probably deserve a medal for sustaining a restaurant business with this handicap in the evening hospitality black hole that is Northallerton. But it is generally well thought-of among North Yorkshire’s Tex-Mex aficionados. It has a loyal clientele and has been reviewed here favourably in the distant past.

So we were looking forward to the start of their meal delivery service offering a pretty extensive menu. Safe, socially-distanced meal collection is probably out of the question because of the restricted access arrangements.

The only problem is that demand is clearly outstripping their ability to supply and their phone system.

Orders have to be placed by phone between 5pm and 9pm. You can’t leave a message (well you can but it’s not responded to), and you can’t order the day before.

So you have to wait until 5pm and hit the phone in the hope of getting through. We tried and tried and after 40 minutes on auto redial one Saturday gave up and settled on a Plan B.

Which was The Village Inn at Brompton. And which worked – largely. One phone call. Order taken and paid for. Collection slot booked for 45 minutes later.

On arrival two people were waiting at the collection point – a side door onto the driveway up to the pub’s car park. But their meals were swiftly deposited into something which looked like a metal cradle from which the collectors retrieved their food.

Ours arrived within five minutes and we were off home ten minutes away. So far so good.

Although the Village Inn’s takeaway menu does feature a few starters (sweet chilli beef salad or haddock and pea fishcakes with tomato chilli salsa) the main course options were all pretty robust so we thought we probably weren’t hungry enough to do to justice to three courses.

Sylvia had chosen hunter’s chicken with bacon, barbecue sauce cheese and chips (£9). I had opted for a Thai red chicken curry with rice (chips were also an option), also for £9.

The Northern Echo:

We could also have chosen from two burgers, two parmos (large and very large), lasagne, haddock or scampi – all with chips. As I said, robust.

They survived the journey home reasonably well although the hunter’s chicken only had one thin sheet of not-so-grease-proof paper separating it from the cardboard container it had been served in – with predictably soggy results. My curry and rice fared better in an aluminium container.

The Northern Echo:

Sylvia thought her chicken – chargrilled – pretty good. It was moist but it would have been much better with a bit more of the barbecue sauce and little less cheese. The chips were soggy.

I had a better experience with my curry which had a gratifyingly spicy coconut creaminess to the sauce. The chicken pieces were like Sylvia’s – chargrilled – before they had been added to the sauce to keep things simple in the Village Inn kitchen I guess. The rice was separate and fluffy.

I had also ordered a sticky toffee pudding cheesecake (£3) ostensibly to share but Sylvia didn’t like the look of it (it hadn’t survived the journey home as well as the main) so it was all mine.

And the disappointment was too. Sloppy, super-sweet and lacking in any form of texture contrast, it was the sort of dessert you eat rather guilty because you know it’s not really good for you and the experience just doesn’t justify that guilt.

A lot of the above sounds a bit harsh on reflection because the current circumstances are very difficult and The Village Inn along with a good number of pubs are trying their very best to provide a service and need our support, as indicated by the little “Thank you for supporting your local business” sticker which was affixed to one of the Village Inn’s takeaway boxes.

They certainly do.

I also sort-of apologise for the photographs that accompany this review and others that have appeared in recent weeks. I’m not a fan of pictures of food at the best of times but smartphone images of food decanted from takeaway containers onto plates really tests your reviewers’ food stylist skills to the limit. So if they don’t look very appetising that’s entirely our fault.

The Village Inn

88 Water End, Brompton, Northallerton DL6 2RL

Website: www.the Tel: 01609-771040.

Open: Thursday, and Sunday evenings (order from 3pm); Sunday lunches 12-2.30 (orders from 10.30am)

Ratings (out of ten): Food quality 7 Social distancing 9 Logistics 6 Value 8