After me and my brother visited The White Hart a few weeks ago, I was quite interested to scope out the competition in Denmead. With that in mind, me and Dad decided to pay a visit to The Chair makers.
The sun was mostly out, so we grabbed a drink and a menu and took them out to the garden to see what was on offer. At first glance the menu seems pretty standard, and I think that was what bothered us. Maybe we've just read too many menus, but it isn't hard to come up with something a bit different. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or Hestontastic, but I think a little imagination can make the world of difference to a menu. Something that grabs your interest and makes you want to try it. This is of course not just something we'd level at this pub, we think most menus would benefit from a bit of extra thought and invention. The second, and more obvious issue was one we have come across a few times recently, the pricing. As previously stated, you don't mind paying a little over the odds for something wonderful or interesting, but £12, £13, £14 for a pretty standard main, it bothers me. I think the lower end of the pricing bothered us even more. Bubble and squeak with an egg, £8. An omelette, £8. We did wonder if the bubble and squeak was a misprint and they'd forgotten the main part of the meal.
Curiously, the specials were much more reasonably priced, and that's where we ordered from. I had a roast and Dad had beef casserole, both were about £8.50. When the food arrived it was well enough presented and looked well made. We did note though that the casserole didn't come with dumplings, which we thought was missing an obvious trick. My roast was pretty good and I could find no fault with it. The meat was cooked well, the potatoes were quite good without being spectacular and the Yorkshire pudding was okay, maybe a little old and slightly on the tough side. The vegetables came on a separate plate and were cooked well enough. This is another aspect where we feel so many pubs could make big improvements. I don't have a problem with simple vegetables, but when you're paying to eat out it would lift the whole meal if you were given some cauliflower cheese or creamed leeks, rather than standard boiled carrots, etc. Dad said his casserole was pretty good, but maybe on the small side. It did come with a lump of crusty bread though, which is always a good thing.
This is a nice enough pub in a nice enough location, and the food is nice enough. But the cost of the food does bother us and would put us off in the future. If I was in the Denmead area and looking to get some sustenance, to be brutally honest I'd head to the White Hart instead.