Friday, 31 July 2015

THE FARMER INN - 300 Catherington Lane





Today we visited The Farmer Inn. It wasn't the first time we've been there and it probably won't be the last. It's semi-rural location gives you that country pub feel without really having to venture in to the sticks. The pub changed hands several years back and the new bosses were keen to stamp their own homemade food on the menu. The pub itself is not the biggest, but when the sun is shining, there is ample outdoor seating at the rear of the pub.


As I said, we had eaten here before and it had always been of a high standard, we are especially enamoured by their triple cooked chips. I have though always had a slight issue with the atmosphere inside. It may just be me, but it never feels very warm and cosy. It's fine in the evening when the bar is full of punters, but lunchtime can feel a bit cold. Don't get me wrong, the service is always good and it's not always cold in the literal sense, but there's just something. Maybe I had a bad experience there in a past life.


We both struggled a bit today picking something from the menu. There was plenty on there but nothing jumped out at us. I ended up going for salmon with triple cooked chips and Dad had ham, egg and triple cooked chips. We also went mad and ordered some garlic bread to share as a starter. When it came I was quite excited. It looked good, but didn't quite deliver.
The main courses were certainly better. I had a good sized peace of salmon and my vegetables were cooked well. Dad was happy enough with his ham and egg, but we both felt the triple cooked chips weren't quite up to their normal standard. They were still better than virtually any chip you'll get in other pubs, just not quite touched by the divine.


I don't have a bad word to say about this pub in truth. The food is good, the service is good, it's just the interior that doesn't quite do it for me. However, if the sun is out and you want some good food, I would certainly recommend a trip to The Farmer Inn, just try and get a seat in the garden.


Atmosphere  6
Service        8
Food           8
Value         8

Verdict      3.5*

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

CHURSTONE COURT - Churstone


Here is the first of our guest reviews. It's written by Rob Pinhorn, our trusted man in the West country. We'd like to thank him for his invaluable input, expanding our reach when it comes to finding the best food pubs.


Churston Court situated in Churston, near the hamlet of Galmpton, is set in the heart of the English Rivera, and only one mile from the fishing port of Brixham in Devon.
If you're looking for a pub with character, atmosphere and history then Churston court is your destination. A magnificent Grade 1 listed 12th Century Manor House, Churston Court has been skillfully restored to offer modern comforts with traditional charm. Experience a warm welcome with large ingle nook fires and walls covered in original paintings, portraits, tapestries, armor and mirrors. So when you first step in to the building you get the feeling you've been transported back in time.


All the food we've eaten here has been of the highest quality, but Churston Court stands alone for its unmatched Sunday carvery! All the joints of meat perfectly cooked, crisp roast potatoes and heavenly gravy, with a wide choice of fresh veg and condiments.



Atmosphere  10
Service          9
Food              9
Value            9

Verdict        5*

Friday, 10 July 2015

THE HARE AND HOUNDS - Stoughton




We've known of this pub for some time, in fact my Dad's even been here, but I hadn't. We'd first spotted it after a trip to The Barley Mow in Walderton, and it's been on the list of pubs to visit ever since. Well today we did it. It was my turn to choose where would go, and since it was such a beautiful day, I fancied a country pub where we could sit out and enjoy the best of British countryside.
There's plenty of seating outside, making it a perfect good weather pub. We ventured inside and grabbed drinks and menus from an olde world bar, always makes me think about Hobbits, then back out to nab a big round wooden table all to ourselves.


The menu was just the right size with plenty on there to suit most tastes. Dad went for gammon, egg and chips and I went for half a smoked chicken. Half a chicken can often be a bit of a nothing meal, it is what it is, but I was intrigued by the smoke factor. Said chook was accompanied by skinny chips, I shan't say fries, salad and aioli.
On such a perfect day in such idyllic surroundings, we didn't really care how long the food took to come out. I had a sense of "Last of the Summer wines" as we sat chatting and sipping on our cold drinks.


After precisely the right amount of time, our food was delivered and lovingly placed before us, along with the old standard, "Can I get you any sauces with that?" If you're interested in that sort of thing Dad had ketchup and I was fine with my aioli. fitting with the rest of the day, the food was just right, perhaps we inadvertently wandered in to a Goldilocks parallel universe. If we did, I recommend you visit at your earliest convenience. The smoke flavour of the chicken was subtle, but it was there and the chips were of a good quality and bountiful in number. Dad was happy to be served up a proper peace of ham, and to keep things interesting, his meat was sent out with thick cut chips. Even in The Goldilocks universe variety is the spice of life.


When I had finally worked my way through my chip mountain, we were loathed to leave, such was the perfection of the moment, but eventually, leave we did. This leads well in to the most important of questions which must be asked upon departure. Would we go back? The answer is an uniquivicable yes, but, and there is a but. If the sun was shining I would be happy to sit outside The Hare and Hounds at every opertunity, but I can't help feeling it wouldn't be such a magical experience if the rain was falling and the wind blowing. I'm confident it would still be wonderful, but it would be hard to equal the events of Friday 10th July. Incidentally, when my Dad visited last year it was in fact raining so they were forced to sit inside. It was a Sunday and he is prepared to vouch that their roasts are also very good indeed.
Final note. The below mark for atmosphere is based on sitting outside on a beautiful day.


Atmosphere   9
Service          9
Food             8
Value            8

Verdict          4*

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

THE SMUGGLERS INN - High Street, Milford on Sea




Me and Dad have decided to include input from trusted guest reviewers in order to expand our coverage. The first of these reviews was conducted at The Smugglers Inn in Milford on Sea. I was joined by Rachel, Tommy, Judith, Dawn and Hughsie for a Sunday lunch in the sunshine.

As the sun was shining, we decided to take a table in the ample beer garden, complete with impressive children's play area. After getting some drinks in, we deliberated the options presented on the menu. As I've previously mentioned, I am rather partial to a good roast dinner, and being Sunday, my choice was quick and easy. The other meals up for our collective scrutiny were the burger, jacket potato, baguettes and the classic ploughman's.

The ploughman's I was particularly interested in as you could choose from a selection of cheese and meats. There is also a traditional majesty to a meal of such humble beginnings. It almost makes you proud to be British, thinking of the noble farmer with his crusty bread and lump of cheese. Nostalgic fluff aside, it seems like the perfect choice for an outdoor Summer lunch. Luckily that's what Rachel went for which meant I could steal some of her bread.

The food arrived quicker than a Superman phone box costume change, and it looked good. The ploughman's and my roast were the first to appear.


We found it hard to wait for the rest of the food, trying very hard to stick to the laws of foodie politeness. We didn't have to wait too long before consuming could commence, and  consume I did, with no small measure of enjoyment may I add.

On the whole, the food was of a pretty high standard, though the burger may have let the side down a bit. Adjudged to be acceptable yet certainly not impressive, perhaps we found a chink in the Smugglers armour.

But on the up side, everything else was good. A very good roast, though we did have to ask for a Yorkshire pudding as I didn't have beef, tut tut. A rich and bountiful ploughman's and fresh crusty baguettes with well dressed salads.

All in all twas a solid showing, with a special nod to the roast potatoes. I've been here before and I will certainly come here again. 


Atmosphere   8
Service         8
Food            8
Value           8

Verdict        4*

Friday, 3 July 2015

THE BRIDGE TAVERN - 54 East Street, Old Portsmouth



We thought it time we explored the pubs on offer in Portsmouth, so after a bit of research, Dad decided we were to visit The Bridge Tavern in old Portsmouth. A decision nudged to fruition by the glorious weather. The pub is situated on the water's edge and has plenty of outside tables to take advantage of the view.

As I've mentioned before, it seems pubs by the sea are finally making the most of the produce on their doorstep. As with the last few seaside pubs we've visited, The Bridge Tavern's menu is heavy on the fish. There are of course other non fish based offerings so don't be put off if you're not a fan of our legless friends.

The interior of the pub seemed well attired and the staff welcoming, but we didn't spend much time in the building. We ordered drinks, grabbed a menu and headed for the outside. A quick perusal was enough to see we had another goldilocks menu on our hands. Not too big and not too small. I have noticed a definite trend of food pubs moving in the right direction of late. Fresh produce, homemade food and a goldilocks menu are all key ingredients when running a successful pub. We are living in good times as far as pubs are concerned, as long as you go to the right ones, that's where we come in.

I ordered the fish pie and Dad went for brazed ham hock. After just the right amount of time had passed, our food appeared. We could tell immediately that we had struck gold, especially where my Dad was concerned. After a few mouthfuls he was getting very excited, in fact I have never seen him so enamoured by a plate of food. My fish pie was also very good. We were lucky enough to bump in to the chef outside whilst he was preparing a hog roast for the evening. He was happy to explain how he cooked the ham and equally happy to hear how much my Dad enjoyed it.

If you're ever in the Portsmouth area, especially on a sunny day, be sure to head for The Bridge Tavern, you won't be disappointed, we certainly weren't. In fact we were so impressed it's going straight in to our top pub list, 'ows about that then. 

Atmosphere   9
Service         9
Food            10
Value           8

Verdict        5*

Thursday, 2 July 2015

THE BAT AND BALL - Hyden Farm Lane, Clanfield/Hambledon




Although I have visited this pub many times since my last review, I hadn't realised how much time had passed. This caused for a review and refresh mission. I was to be joined on this particular adventure by a clutch of family, ready to assist me on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

As is always the case here, we were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Menu's were distributed and drinks orders were taken. Being a Sunday, there was only ever one outcome for me. I'm sure you already know this, but it is a scientific fact that roast dinners are the finest meal ever created by mankind. Three of our number joined me in the roast camp, covering all the options. Beef, Lamb, vegetarian, and chicken for me. Just to balance things out, George went for the burger. Some of our number are rather keen on the homemade pork scratchings they make at The Bat and Ball, but we came across something new and exciting. Cheese straws, (Another of man's finest creations). We ordered both to nibble on while our mains were being prepared.


The scratchings have always been good, and good they remain. I was personally far more interested in the cheese straws, and I wasn't let down. They were big, flaky, delicious, and I wanted more. I did manage to restrain myself, knowing that the main event wasn't far behind. There aren't many smells which can compete with that of a quality roast dinner. It is deep and rich, an entirely different smell to a sad inferior version. When our food was placed before us, that smell came too. What I really like about the roasts here, is the quality of the vegetables. The very rout of our five a day, they are so often just thrown on as an afterthought, I'm looking at you frozen peas. We were given roasted carrots, mashed Swede, red cabbage, and best of all, a big bowl of cauliflower cheese.

I would like to congratulate The Bat and Ball on their Yorkshire pudding policy. They have fallen in line with my campaign against the, "You can only have a Yorkshire pudding with roast beef", nonsense. The Yorkshire puddings in question were of a good size and graced each of our plates, apart from the one with a burger on it. The meat was all cooked perfectly, the potatoes were tasty, Georges burger was good, and the cauliflower cheese was beautiful.

I think I've made it fairly clear that I visit this pub regularly, and there is a reason for that, and it's not just the wonderful food. The service has always been excellent here, even when the pub is very busy. They are always happy to help, and will do what they can to accommodate. I would happily come here every Sunday for a roast, neatly answering the question... Would you go back? I would, and I do, and if you've never been, I suggest you give it a try.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 10
Food                    8.5
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*

THE BAT AND BALL - Hambledon Although I have visited this pub many times since my last review, I hadn't realised how much time had passed. This caused for a review and refresh mission. I was to be joined on this particular adventure by a clutch of family, ready to assist me on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  As is always the case here, we were greeted warmly and shown to our table. Menu's were distributed and drinks orders were taken. Being a Sunday, there was only ever one outcome for me. I'm sure you already know this, but it is a scientific fact that roast dinners are the finest meal ever created by mankind. Three of our number joined me in the roast camp, covering all the options. Beef, Lamb, vegetarian, and chicken for me. Just to balance things out, George went for the burger. Some of our number are rather keen on the homemade pork scratchings they make at The Bat and Ball, but we came across something new and exciting. Cheese straws, (Another of man's finest creations). We ordered both to nibble on while our mains were being prepared.   The scratchings have always been good, and good they remain. I was personally far more interested in the cheese straws, and I wasn't let down. They were big, flaky, delicious, and I wanted more. I did manage to restrain myself, knowing that the main event wasn't far behind. There aren't many smells which can compete with that of a quality roast dinner. It is deep and rich, an entirely different smell to a sad inferior version. When our food was placed before us, that smell came too. What I really like about the roasts here, is the quality of the vegetables. The very rout of our five a day, they are so often just thrown on as an afterthought, I'm looking at you frozen peas. We were given roasted carrots, mashed Swede, red cabbage, and best of all, a big bowl of cauliflower cheese.   I would like to congratulate The Bat and Ball on their Yorkshire pudding policy. They have fallen in line with my campaign against the, "You can only have a Yorkshire pudding with roast beef", nonsense. The Yorkshire puddings in question were of a good size and graced each of our plates, apart from the one with a burger on it. The meat was all cooked perfectly, the potatoes were tasty, Georges burger was good, and the cauliflower cheese was beautiful.  I think I've made it fairly clear that I visit this pub regularly, and there is a reason for that, and it's not just the wonderful food. The service has always been excellent here, even when the pub is very busy. They are always happy to help, and will do what they can to accommodate. I would happily come here every Sunday for a roast, neatly answering the question... Would you go back? I would, and I do, and if you've never been, I suggest you give it a try.   Atmosphere  8 Service  10 Food   8.5 Value   8 Verdict  5*