Saturday, 29 August 2015

THE MARMION - 20 Marmion Road, Southsea.

We have been conscious for some time that we hadn't really covered enough of the pubs in Portsmouth/Southsea, so thought it was time we put that right. When I first looked at some of the pubs in this area "The Marmion" was rated top on Trip advisor, though I am reliably informed by my dear father that it has since slipped several places.
After making use of the nearby Waitrose car park we took the short walk which was necessary to appropriate the purchase of food from this pub that neither of us had previously experienced. It is what I like to call modern rustic, or modstic. Lots of wood, but clean and dare I say a bit trendy.

We found a nice table in the corner and settled down with some cold diet cokes to examine the menu. After last week's shock with the prices, I was keen to find out the average cost of a main. Thankfully and properly, you can get yourself a main here for just under £10, exactly what it should cost. Firstly we went through the specials board on the wall, then we went through the printed menu. It didn't take long to realise they were the same. Turns out it probably wasn't a specials board, just a menu board. Both menus sounded good, with something for everyone and a few dishes which sounded more interesting than your average pub fodder.

I was tempted by several things, but decided to settle on the chicken burger. I know that sounds like a bit of an unimaginative option, but it read well on the menu. It involved red onion, dill pickle and some kind of posh tomato sauce, all in a toasted brioche bun. It also came with chunky hand cut chips and I had a good feeling about it. Dad had fish and chips, same chips, different animal.
We were served promptly at our table and handed our cutlery before being asked the obligatory, "Would you like any sauces with that?", turns out we didn't. Our food was delivered after precisely the right amount of time, right in the Goldilocks bracket. My chips came in their own little dish as is the habit of modern gastro pubs, but I felt my plate would have benefited from some kind of token salad. If not to make the plate look nicer, then to give you something extra, to get past burger and chips. Having said that, my burger was wonderful. It was a good sized bun which normally means a small burger inside that doesn't fit, a burger which is out of its depth. Not this burger. This burger was as big as the bun and the afore mentioned garnishes put it in to my top 5 burgers of all time. Technically it wasn't a burger, it was chicken breast. The chips were good and very obviously homemade, though Dad felt they could have been a touch crispier and I think I agree. I suppose it comes down to personal preference, but we do both like a chip to be crispy and there's no shame in that. It turns out Dad wasn't quite as impressed with his choice. He wasn't too excited about his peas and suspects the fish may not have long been out the freezer. I'm not entirely against using frozen fish, but if not thawed completely there can be too much water involved which ruins the texture and can be detrimental to the crispy factor of the batter. Also when you're a stone's throw from the ocean.....

So in conclusion and after much deliberation, we can say this is a good pub. It is trying to do things properly, and aren't chancing it with their pricing. I think they're almost there, and as with most pubs, it can depend on what you order. My burger was very good indeed but Dad's fish wasn't so good. I think with the abundance of traditional pubs, cafe's and restaurants in the area, The Marmian is to be applauded for being a proper pub which does proper food.

Atmosphere  8
Service        7
Food            7
Value           7

Verdict        3.5*

Monday, 24 August 2015

THE HURDLES - Station Road, Droxford

This week I asked my Dad to point the car at Droxford and go forward. He thought it would be a better idea to stick to the roads. I was interested in The Hurdles, as it has recently had a refurb and hired an award winning chef, information gleaned from their own website.

We were joined on our trip by George Magee who was ready and willing to give his own input for this review.

We were blessed with a day of sunshine, so thought it right and proper to take a table outside. We did venture inside briefly to collect menus and drinks, and at a quick glance things didn't look too different, although I don't remember there being much wrong with the interior last time we visited.

George's first contribution was to point out that the table and chairs weren't especially clean. We were also joined at the table by a mostly dead pot of oregano, not great for first impressions.

The real shock however was to come with the opening of said menus. The average price for a meal was £14 - £15, in our opinion too much for a pub, especially at lunch time. This wasn't just extravagant fodder, it included fish and chips, sausage and mash and steak and kidney pie. Coincidentally, these were the three things we ordered. I was going to have something else, but was told that was the one thing they didn't have, a bit of a shock considering there were only two other people there and it was only just gone 12.

Never the less, I made a quick change to the fish and chips. It came with homemade tartar sauce and minted peas, but more unusual was the fish element. It wasn't cod or haddock, but both. Two small fillets, one of each. I'm not sure quite what the point of that is. I consider myself to have pretty expansive taistbuds, but cod and haddock don't taste different enough to warrant having both on the same plate.

That said, it was very good. Hand cut, thick style chips and well made fish. BUT, I have had fish and chips which were as good or better in other pubs which cost half the price. Fish and chips is a meal which can never be worth £14.

Dad was happy with his pie, it was a proper pie, not one of those pretend ones which only has pastry on the top. It came with Colcannon mash, (Mash with cabbage in it), but it also came with cabbage on the side, a bit of an oversight me thinks, or an overcabbage.

At first George thought his sausage and mash was quite good, but his enthusiasm waned as he ate. The mash was lacking in flavour and the sausages weren't the best he'd ever had. A bit disappointing for a £12 lunch. I seem to recall that this was the cheapest main on the menu.

We struggled a bit when discussing our review on this one. The food is good and I would never put anyone off going here, and if we'd sat inside without the slightly unclean table and chairs and dead herbs, we may have felt slightly different. But without doubt, the issue is the costing. we believe that a pub meal shouldn't generally cost much more than £10 unless it is exceptional and faultless. I just can't see any way of justifying prices like that, certainly not at lunchtime, when many pubs and restaurants will offer cheaper alternatives. As I said, we wouldn't put you off going, just be prepared for a substantial hit when the bill comes.

Atmosphere  7
Service        7
Food           8
Value          5

Verdict       3.5*