Friday, 24 June 2016

THE BAKERS ARMS - High street, Droxford.

This is a lovely pub which has a reputation for locally sourced food. We thought it time we see for ourselves exactly what they're doing with said food.

The Bakers Arms has the immediate feel of a quality traditional pub, but that somewhat belies what's going on in the kitchen. It only takes a quick look at the menu to see this is more than your average gastro pub. The inclusion of wagyu beef, duck and snails, makes it clear that you won't be in for the run of the mill scampi and chips here.

You will also notice whilst scanning the menu that the prices are a cut above the average pub, but don't run away just yet. As we've said before, sometimes the extra pounds can be validated, and this is one such occasion. The mains average between £13 and £17, but an experienced foodie will be able to see some of that cost in the menu. All the ingredients here are of a high quality, this may cost more, but will result in a better experience for your mouth and stomach. As well as the ingredients, there is a high level of thought and skill which go in to the food you eat here. Furthermore, if you are keen to save the pennies, they offer a bargain set menu. Two courses and a drink will set you back just £15, you can't go wrong with that. Even if you use the set menu as a starting point, you will want to come back and try more of the food on offer. 

Even though the sun was shining, we decided to leave the garden and head for a table indoors. The staff were very friendly and the pub itself had just the sort of atmosphere you long for when pub lunching, or plunching. As an example of the heightened levels of service, our drinks were brought to the table, along with a jug of water, that's a gastrohub first. After ordering our food, we were also treated to some warm homemade bread with butter and balsamic oil dip. A tip for any publicans reading this, you give me fresh bread and I'm yours forever.
Unusually for us, we ended up having a starter. Dad had English rarebit, that's not a mistake, it wasn't Welsh. I picked chicken liver parfait, one of my favourites. For our mains, Dad chose liver and bacon, while I went for griddled chicken on noodles with a satay sauce.

Glad to report, the staff here work on Goldilocks time. The food all came out at just the right time. It didn't take too long, neither did it arrive too quickly, just perfect. The easiest way for me to summarise would be to say, everything was very good indeed. We didn't see any fault in the food or service. No glaring errors, basic or otherwise, no laps in seasoning or frozen soggy vegetables. You can trust the food here. What you order is what you get, that may sound obvious but it is rarely the case. I've just tried really hard to think of anything that we would suggest and I can think of just one thing. This is not a floor in the Bakers Arms service, more a national problem which should be addressed. As is the case with every pate I've ever ordered, there's simply not enough toast, that's it.

If you're looking for somewhere new to eat, your search is over. If you like food and you like pubs, you have no choice. It truly does tick every box and we would happily come back and happily recommend it to you.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 9
Food                    9
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*

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Friday, 17 June 2016

THE HARVEST HOME - Southwick Road, Denmead.

Today we journeyed in to Denmead to visit The Harvest Home. We'd eaten here several times before and thought it time we checked in to see what was happening. This is a nice country pub with plenty of parking out front and a good size garden out back. It certainly isn't the biggest pub in the world, neither does it feel too small. It is pretty much split in two, in an open plan kind of way. The bar on one side and the restaurant on the other. There are of course plenty of tables outside for when the sun sees fit to shine.
It didn't take long for us to tick all the basic pub boxes. Temperature good, music just right, staff friendly, prices realistic and fair. The menu was good without blowing your mind, prices ranging from £6.95 for a pasta dish, to £13.95 for a mixed grill. Most meals were under £10, with deserts coming in at a very reasonable £3.99. There are also several sharing platters on offer, if you're in to sharing. We, however, were intrigued by the fish shop Friday special. For just under £7 you can choose from cod, plaice, fishcakes or battered sausage. All come with chips, peas and bread and butter.

I opted for the plaice, while Dad chose the cod, covering both fishy bases. It didn't take too long for our food to arrive along with an enquiry as to whether we would like any sauces. For those of you who may be interested in such things, Dad had some ketchup. Let's start from the top and work down. Both pieces of fish were very good. Crisp batter in Dads case, crunchy breadcrumbs in mine. The fish was perfectly cooked inside its various crispy jackets, unlike several soggy and unpleasant examples we've had in the past from other pubs. The chips were just chips, not homemade, but fine never the less. We weren't overly impressed with the peas, being of a tinned pea consistency. All together, they were decent plates of food, especially for less than £7 each.
As I said, we've eaten here before, so are able to judge on more than just our fishy Friday. The food is of a good standard here, and the staff friendly. We were particularly impressed with the pricing of the food. The amount correctly representing the meal. Too many pubs blanket price, making everything near enough the same, regardless of how much the ingredients cost or how much work is involved. We think this an honest country pub, and when you can get a decent feed for less than £7, what is there to complain about?

Atmosphere          8
Service                 8
Food                    7
Value                   9
Verdict                 4* 

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