Friday, 26 August 2016

THE WHEELWRIGHTS ARMS - 27 Emsworth Road, Havant





In a change to the regular schedule, we went forth seeking wondrous food on a Thursday. Never the less, the remit remained the same, and with high hopes we headed in to Havant, and more specifically, The Wheelwrights Arms. We've eaten here in the past and been mightily impressed, so were hoping for more of the same.

It strikes me as an unassuming pub, if such a thing is possible. Inside, the layout is of the horseshoe variety, with a checked tile floor in front of the bar. It's lighter than your average pub, owing to the expanse of windows across the front aspect. That's my estate agent audition out the way. The staff here are all very polite and helpful, which is always a good start. After ordering drinks from the said staff, we were faced with the question of where to sit. Being that it was a perfect Summers day, we enquired about the Terrace area which we had seen advertised on a sign out front. We were duly directed to the terrace where we made ourselves comfortable. The pub itself and the outdoor area that we found ourselves in, are both well looked after and tastefully appointed. With the sun shining and a cold drink in hand, it almost felt like we had been transported to a sheik European restaurant.

The menu read very well, with obvious care taken in its composition. The prices are towards the upper end of reasonable, your average meal coming in between £10 and £13. It all then comes down to whether the food can live up to its price and make you happy to pay those extra few pounds. Dad picked the beef and horseradish sandwich. This comes with a small salad and parmesan dusted fries. My choice may not have been very original, but I was drawn to the fish and chips, and I'll tell you for why. We already had an inkling that the food was pretty good here, and the fish in question was hake. I like hake and was glad to see it advertised on the menu. Some pubs and restaurants will use hake as a sustainable alternative to cod and haddock, but will often try and hide the fact, calling it simply fish and chips, leaving you to assume nothing has changed. The chips were also homemade, as was the tartar sauce, and the peas were minted. So those are the reasons I had fish and chips.


We were lucky enough to have the terrace to ourselves, so found it the perfect place to relax and talk about very important things while we waited for the food. When it arrived, it looked polished, not literally of course. It just looked good and right. As we tucked in, it became clear that it tasted as good as it looked. The bread in Dad's sandwich was lightly toasted, the beef was nice and pink, and the fries were very good indeed. I can personally confirm this after eating most of them. As a whole, this may have been the best fish and chips I've had in a pub. The chips were tasty and beautifully crisp, a strangely rare trait in the world of pub chips. The tartar sauce was delicious and creamy, and the peas duly minted, although they did come in a small dish, I'm not a big fan of peas in a dish. But the star of the show, and rightly so, was the fish. It was a wonderful peace of hake, and perfectly cooked, many congratulations to the chef.

If you happen to be cruising down Emsworth Road with the top down and Will Smith's "Summer time", pumping out your stereo, be sure to drop in to The Wheelwrights Arms. It's a little gem where you'd least expect to find one. It might cost you a few more pounds than dining at a lesser pub, but this is one of those occasions where we think it's worth it, especially if you can nab yourself a seat in the terrace on a sunny day.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 8
Food                    9
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*

JOIN US ON
https://www.facebook.com/gastrohub/
 

Friday, 19 August 2016

THE GEORGE INN - Finchdean





We hadn't been to The George for a long time, probably a good few years, so we thought it time to check in and see what foodie delights they could offer our rumbly tumtums.

Like many traditional English pubs, The George is out in the sticks. It's a nice looking old pub, and when you enter, it feels warm and welcoming, especially on a slightly soggy day like today. We got some drinks in, collected menu's and retired to a table in the conservatory. Built as an extension at the back of the pub, this offers a much lighter dining experience.

We skipped over the light bites menu in favour of the full menu for hungry grownups. The menu reads very well, combining the obvious things you'd expect to find, with some imaginative and largely vegetarian options. It covers all angles, and if you can't find something you like the sound of here, perhaps you'd be better off staying at home for a ham sandwich. We had heard that The George has a bit of a reputation for good chips. Regular readers will know that is something that interests me. For some reason I was drawn to the smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes, this is available as a starter or main, and is served with a salad. Torn between my desire for chips and the irresistible pull of the fishcakes, I had a side of chips with said fishcakes, chips costing "£2.95. Speaking of price, this seems an appropriate point to leap forward in time slightly, as it wasn't until I started tucking in to my food that I found out the price of what I was eating. I casually asked Dad how much the fishcakes were. Turns out they were £12.95. Now we are all for paying a bit more when it is warranted, but no matter how nice the salad, I find it hard to qualify the price of my lunch. I should probably mention the chips after that big build up. They were certainly better than your average pub chip, and were homemade. We felt they could have spent a little more time in the fryer to crisp up and darken though. Dad chose the homemade steak pie with mash and seasonal vegetables. He said the pie was very nice, as was the gravy, a much overlooked element, but the mash was a little lumpy. We wouldn't send anyone to prison for the odd lump in their mash, but, there is always a but, if you charge £12 for pie and mash, there should be no lumps, and that's a scientific fact.

All in all, we enjoyed our lunch, the service was friendly and The George is a nice pub. As is so often the case though, we felt we were paying over the odds for the food. We feel that sometimes pubs seem to set their prices as a whole without thinking about each dish individually. Fishcakes and salad should not cost £12.95, that is also a scientific fact.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 7
Food                    8
Value                   6
Verdict                 4*

JOIN US ON
https://www.facebook.com/gastrohub/
 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

THE WHITE BUCK INN - Bisterne Close, Burley








This weekend I visited The White Buck Inn with my family. There are plenty of idyllic country pubs in the New Forest, but this is one I hadn't previously eaten at. It is a beautiful building, looking more like a stately home than a pub at first glance. As the sun was set to, "EVER SO HOT", we headed straight for the garden. There are plenty of tables and a children's play area to keep the kids happy while you sit down with a nice cold drink and realise that there aren't many better things than sitting in a pub garden while the sun shines down on you.

There were plenty of interesting meals on offer, generally at just over £10, but strangely, we all had a hankering for a burger. Me and Rachel choosing the chicken breast version, George opting for the regular cow variety. Both were served simply with chips. At this point I would nudge the idea of a few onion rings or a bit of coleslaw. Think of it as a little bonus which makes the experience of eating that little bit more interesting.

Lack of sides put to one side, the food was very good. The chips were nice, and came with a pot of tomato relish. It was far superior to your standard ketchup, it almost had a pineapple twang to it. Without doubt though, the burger was the main event. As well as the burger/chicken breast, the bun held within it's floury grip, sliced tomato, onion, lettuce and gherkins. I myself am horrified by the idea of tomato in my burger, so mine was swiftly removed.

This is a wonderful example of a thriving country pub. The food is good, and even on a busy Summer weekend, the staff are friendly and the food is conjured up in good time. If you find yourself in the New Forest while the sun is shining, and you happen across the village of Burley, be sure to hunt down The White Buck Inn, you won't be disappointed.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 7
Food                    8
Value                   8
Verdict                 4*

JOIN US ON
https://www.facebook.com/gastrohub/