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.
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