This is one of the pubs that was on our list to revisit. We had been here a long time ago, before GastroHub, and wanted to have another look. It's in a pretty part of the world, sitting merrily in the village of East Meon.
This is a rare breed of pub, found in limbo land somewhere between the old school boozer and contemporary gastro pub. It has a pool table and a T.V. on the go, but serves homemade food at value prices. There's also a garden out back with a play area for the kids should the sun be shining.
The menu was fairly straight forward with all the standard offerings we have come to expect from a modern day pub, including three different types of tart, not seen that before. I went for smoked haddock and spring onion fishcakes with cheesy chilli chips, while Dad went for the burger. The mains were on offer at a very reasonable £6 - £7, while starters and deserts were hovering around the £4 mark.
We didn't have to wait too long for the food to arrive, and it looked pretty much as you'd expect it to. Upon munching, my fishcakes turned out to be delicious. Very much homemade and just the right proportions of fish to potato. The cheesy chips were good, though I did struggle to pick up on any chilli, and I was also treated to a bountiful array of peas. Dad's burger was good and was also homemade. It was joined on the plate by onion rings and exactly ten chips, this may or may not be an issue depending on your appetite.
A great pub is more than you can put your finger on, and equally you can't always explain why a pub doesn't float your boat. The food at the Isaak Walton is good enough, if not too imaginative, and you certainly can't argue with the value. It just didn't feel like a top pub. I want a pub to pick me up and give me a massive cuddle when I go in, especially if it's a bit cold outside. I want to feel like I've been valued and looked after, I want to feel sad that I have to leave. It probably didn't help that it wasn't exactly warm and cosy inside. We think this is the epitome of a three star pub. It still feels like an old fashioned pub that has done food because they have to, not necessarily because they love to. That may be a bit unfair, I don't think the food is the issue, more the pub itself, and that's not so easily fixed. To put this in to perspective though, I'm talking in comparison to the top pubs. If you want some decent food at a good price, you could certainly do a lot worse.