Friday, 14 September 2018

THE DEERS HUT - Griggs green, GU30 7PD

Today it was a long overdue visit to The Deers Hut. We had both only ever been there once before, and that was back in the distant pre-review days.

The pub itself is a lovely building, in a lovely part of the world. So that's a good start isn't it? Parking is easy, and there is a nice seating area out the front with solid, chunky wooden tables. All good so far. Upon pushing open the door, we were greeted by the sounds of a bustling pub on a busy lunchtime, always a good way to begin your visit. When enquiring about the possibility of lunch, we were sullenly asked if we had booked. It certainly wasn't the warm welcome that had been promised by the pubs exterior and entry atmosphere. Much like a pair of hungry heat seeking missiles, we honed in on the menu. Now, we have been here before, but unfortunately it is time to go again. Prices. Let's get the gastro elephant out the room straight away. The average cost of a main meal here is around £16. That includes such staples as fish and chips and ham, egg and chips. I picked out the supreme of chicken with fondant potato and a tarragon sauce, £16. Dad went for the ham, egg and chips, just under £15. Unless I'm very much mistaken, chips are made of potato, which doesn't cost much, and last I checked, eggs aren't going to blow your weekly shopping budget. That's all I can say about £15 for ham, egg and chips. Just to put the costing in to sharp relief for you. A side order of wilted spinach. Have a guess. Go on, have a good think about it. The answer is...£4. Nuf said.

Let's leave the price behind for now and concentrate on the food. Dad's chips were average, eggs is eggs, and the ham was nice, but on the thin side. On a positive note, my food was very nice in deed. The chicken was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin, the fondant was soft and tasty, and the accompanying vegetables were well cooked. The sauce was nice, but sparse.

Now we get to the business end of things. As I said at the start, the pub itself is a lovely building with a tasteful interior. The food is good, as are the chunky wooden tables. Someone needs to put a few coins in the happy joy joy meter though. The difference a friendly manager or staff member can have on your experience is vast, and is something that all pubs should focus on. Now to the big one, the cost. I've said this before, and I'm sure I will say it again. Prices have to make sense. The cheapest thing on the main menu was the burger at a few pennies under £14. When you are including vegetable lasagne, fish and chips and ham, egg and chips in that, something is inherently wrong. I'm sure arguments could be put forward about quality, regional ingredients, but we all know how much chips cost. We all know how much vegetables cost, and we all know that a small bowl of wilted spinach shouldn't cost £4. This could be a great place to eat. Some of the food is wonderful, but for us, it's all out of balance. If you are going to pay £16 for a pub meal, you should be demanding near perfection and impeccable service. That just wasn't the case today.

Atmosphere 7
Service        5.5
Food           8
Value          4
Verdict        3.5*


Monday, 23 July 2018


1: THE BRIDGE TAVERN (Old Portsmouth)
This pub is a great place to be when the sun is out, especially if you are lucky enough to get a table outside. You can sit feet from the water's edge enjoying views of the harbour, and the food is excellent.

We visited this pub recently, and decided that it was the best pub garden we have found on our travels. You can get some nice local crab, the service was friendly, and the food was good. What more could you ask for?

3: THE BIRD IN HAND (Lovedean)
This is one of my personal favourites. The food here is outstanding. There are plenty of tables out front in the garden, and the outdoor seating has recently been added to with a new garden area out the back.

4: THE MAYFLY (Fullerton)
If you like good pub food and rivers, this is the place for you. There is ample outdoor seating, and if you're lucky, you can sit right next to the river and watch the ducks go by as you eat.

5:: THE DEAN (West Dean)
This pub sells some of the finest food you are likely to come across. Just to put a beautiful cherry on the top, it also has a lovely outside area with some very impressive chunky wood tables.

6: THE WHITE HART (Denmead)
A lovely country pub with a nice interior. There's a good range of food including delicious pizza's, which can all be enjoyed in the relaxing pub garden.

7: THE PUB WITH NO NAME (Priors Dean)
If you like tranquillity and want to get away from everything, this is the place to go. You would struggle to find a pub that is much more out the way. Luckily enough, they also sell wonderful food and drink.

8: THE WHITE HORSE (Southsea)
If the seaside is more your thing, you should pay a visit to The White Horse. Situated a stone's throw from the sea front, there is a great outdoor area at the front of the pub. The food here is good, and served up at a bargain price.

9: THE CROWN AND ANCHOR (Chichester)
Found on Chichester quay, this pub is well worth a visit. Great service, great location, and a good menu with plenty of fresh fish on offer.

10: THE SHIP INN (Limington)
Whilst we are on the subject of pubs and quay's, here's another one. This pub can get very busy, especially during the tourist seasons, but if you can get a table outside, it's well worth doing.

11: THE SHIP INN (Langstone)
Another pub where you can get yourself a table just feet from the sea. There is plenty of seating here, so you shouldn't struggle to get a good view. The food is pretty good with plenty of fish options.

12: THE WILLOW TREE (Winchester)
A quality pub selling quality food. There is a wonderful beer garden here, with the bonus of a river running right through it.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

THE WHITE HORSE - 44 North Walington, Fareham

It was a trip in to the unknown for me this week, having never knowingly entered the land of Walington. Our destination was The White Horse. Dad had provided the pre-visit Intel, so it was now down to us to move in and get the job done.

We found a beautifully convenient car park just over the road and over a small bridge from the pub, and even better, it was free. As we approached the building, I was met by that classic old pub sent of beer. This was in perfect harmony with the insides of the pub, complete with pool table and a friendly lady behind the bar. There are a few tables out the front of the pub, and that's where we decided to place ourselves. The first thing you need to know, is that the food is sold off at a bargain price, virtually everything coming in under £8. We didn't get too excited though. Regular readers will know that we've been burnt several times recently with promises of good and affordable food, I'm looking at you Green King.

There is plenty on the menu to keep most people happy, as long as you aren't looking for fine dining. Things are kept relatively simple on the menu, most meals served with a choice of chips or jackets. Quite a few of the meals are also available in small or larger sizes. I was drawn to the haddock and spring onion fishcakes. These were accompanied by chips and a side salad, and all for less than £8. Dad went for the most expensive thing on the menu, but that was £12 so we'll let him off. For that £12, you can choose from rump, ribeye or sirloin steak, each weighing in at 8 ounces. Whatever your choice, your steak will come with a whole host of friends, we shall come to that later.

Dad had plumped for the rump, and when it arrived, it seemed quite impressive that the friendly lady could hold it up with one hand. The steak was served up with a mountain of chips, a salad, tomato, mushrooms and onion rings. My fishcakes just came with chips and salad. I would like to begin if I may, with the salads. I was impressed, but there was also a twinge of sadness. The elements of the salad were fresh and streaks ahead of your average lazy side salad, comprising of nice leaves, baby tomatoes, onion, pepper and cucumber. The glaring miss for me, was the lack of a dressing. It would have elevated a selection of salad items in to an interesting and valued part of the meal. My two fishcakes were of a good size and tasted very nice in deed. The chips were of the steak cut variety, and rounded off the plate nicely. Unusually, I finished my meal before Dad, who was struggling to make an impact on his pile of food. Everything was fine and dandy on his plate other than the steak itself. He had asked for rare, but he declared it more medium. This in itself would have been no great hardship, but the steak was also a little tough.

Let's get back on the value horse. As I stated at the start, we have visited several pubs of late offering cheaper food and we have been burnt badly. We are happy to report that was not the case here. The value is unquestionable. A huge steak dinner for £12 and anything else under £8, that's a bargain all day long. This isn't a pub masquerading as a restaurant. This is a pub selling decent food at a value price. That's all well and good in principle, but they actually back it up with some pretty good food, even if it is lacking a splash of dressing on the salad. If you're passing through Fareham and you're after a bargain feed at a traditional English pub, pull up in the free car park, cross the small bridge and pull up a seat at The White Horse.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 8
Food                    7
Value                   10
Verdict                 4*

Saturday, 7 July 2018

THE HORSE & JOCKEY - Hipley, Hambledon

With an endless string of beautiful Summer days behind us, and hopefully ahead, we knew a pub garden was in order. With that in mind, we made the decision to head in to the countryside, and more precisely, the little known area of Hipley, for that dear readers is where the Horse & Jockey lives.

First things first. There is plenty of parking here, and ample garden seating. Before securing our spot outside, it was inside to procure drinks and foodie info. This is where it got a tad confusing. There are three menus, and, yes and, a specials board. Bare with me. There is a restaurant menu, a bar menu, and a garden menu, which is a shortened version of one of the other menu's. After questioning the friendly lady who poured our drinks, we found out that you can't order from the specials menu if you are sitting outside. This left me discombobulating. So many questions. Why is the bar menu different to the garden menu? Why is the bar menu different to the restaurant menu? Why can food from the specials board not be delivered outside? That's enough of that, otherwise I'll be here all day.

As we were definitely going to sit in the garden, we were limited to said garden menu. This being the case, I picked fish and chips and Dad went for steak pie. I had the choice of peas or salad. Peas obviously. I was a bit disappointed not to have the option of mushy peas. Dad had his own choice to make. Chips or mash. He chose mash.

We secured ourselves a lovely table in a separated part of the garden, just before the river crossing, AKA, the bridge. We bathed in the magic of a pub garden, and before long it was food time. Dad's pie was a first for us, not in a good or bad way. It was a slice of pie. That is, part of one big pie, rather than a self-contained, independent pie with its own government and currency. I can divulge that the pastry was good and the filling was very tasty, leading Dad to say that he would happily order said pie again. Not immediately after finishing the one he was eating though. I think he meant at a later date. The mash was good without inspiring poetry, and the peas were peas. My fish was good, the batter was crisp, the chips were fine, (not homemade), and again, my peas were peas. This brings me to the next point. If you are eating in the garden you collect your own cutlery and condiments by the door. This means that salt, ketchup, tartar sauce etc, all comes in those little sashays that you don't see so much nowadays.

Let's do some summarising. The service at the bar was good and friendly. The food didn't take long to appear. The menu situation seems unnecessarily overblown. Personally, I'm not keen on sashays when it comes to sauces. Generally speaking, when your food is delivered in a pub, whether it be inside or outside, you are asked if you would like any sauces. That didn't happen, nor were we asked if everything was okay? As I've said many, many times, homemade chips would make the world of difference. Our lunch also lead me to an epiphany of my own. If I had a pub, I would ban peas, other than mushy ones for fish and chips. It's not that I don't like peas, but they are a lazy offering. The easiest of vegetables to prepare and distribute. How much nicer would it be to be served up some braised cabbage, mashed Swede or cauliflower cheese?

Despite my grumblings, we had a lovely afternoon. It's a nice old country pub, with a lovely garden and some lovely, friendly staff. We do think the menu situation should be addressed, but that is only our opinion, and we live in a world of opinions, which we are all entitled to.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 6
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*