We have been getting a huge number of views from Russia in the last week.
If anyone out there could explain why we are suddenly so big in Russia, we'd be very interested to find out.
Friday, 22 July 2016
This pub had been recommended to me some time ago, and finally I had the chance to try it out whilst visiting with family.
The Crown is everything you'd expect from a traditional New Forest country pub. The wood floor, oak beams and general ambiance certainly leans more towards the rustic than the contemporary. As you'd expect with a country pub, there is also a garden out the back to play host to those long Summer pub lunches.
There were six of us in total, one being very small and still learning to talk. That being the case, she had no say in what she would be eating. Luckily for her, the friendly staff approached immediately upon seeing a small child and explained that they offer a special little, chopped up roast dinner for small people. This may also be open to those of you with no teeth. The menu read as though written by a pub that knows there food, but being a Sunday, I could look no further than a roast chicken dinner, taking care to check that this would still include a Yorkshire pudding. Other options taken up on the table were Pork belly with apple mash, and steak and kidney pudding.
The small chopped up roast arrived almost immediately, the rest took a little longer, but certainly not too long. Besides, we had some garlic bread to munch on while we waited. When the food did come out, it looked pretty good. One of the most remarkable things was our vegetables. Each of us hadd a vegetable pastle, the outer surface of cabbage leaves enveloping the other vegetables within, ingenious and tasty. If I'm being super critical though, and I suppose that is my job, I longed for roast parsnips, mashed Swede, red cabbage and dare I say cauliflower cheese. Having said that, the food was all very good. The potatoes were crisp and tasty and the Yorkshire pudding was fresh, as in not frozen or cooked several hours in advance. I think the highlight of the meals was the pork belly. The apple mash is a stroke of genius, unless you don't like apples, and the crackling was truly explosive, every chew sending shockwaves across the pub.
This is a lovely pub, with friendly and helpful staff. It's certainly worth a visit, especially if you're looking for a child friendly pub. The food is also very good, so if you find yourself in Everton (New Forest, not Liverpool), why not pop in and give it a go?
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Tuesday, 19 July 2016
Fate, or more precisely, we, had decided that today was the day that we would pay a visit to The Barleycorn in Nutbourne. I'd come across this pub during one of my trawls through the interweb searching for hidden gems, so I had a rough idea what we were in for.
This is a nice enough pub in its own right, but what really brings it to life is the obvious passion for food which is on display as soon as you lay eyes on the pub, as well as the friendly and welcoming staff. There are numerous signs outside advertising various fresh fish, including where said fish have been sourced. There was also a sign for "The secret garden", which immediately made us want to sit in it, even though the sun couldn't find a way through the cloud.
This is probably a good time to point out that The Barleycorn is essentially a fish restaurant in pub form. The menu is largely made up of fresh fish dishes, although there is also meat and other tasty options available for those who aren't keen on fish. A multitude of options are advertised on several blackboards, making it hard to choose what to eat in this fish lovers paradise. In terms of price, you can get something for any budget, from soup to a whole lobster to share.
I was surprisingly decisive, opting for cod Veronique, also known as cod loin in a white wine and cream sauce with grapes, duchess potatoes and a vegetable gratin. Now, for all the menus we've bemoaned in the past for a lack of imagination and interesting accompaniments, that's how you do it. Dad went for plaice with tomatoes, mushrooms and a salad. We took our seat in the secret garden, which didn't quite live up to my expectations of waterfalls, exotic wandering creatures and rare giant orchids, I admit I was aiming high.
When the food came to meet us, we knew instantly that we were on to a winner. There is undoubtedly a real chef of quality working in the kitchen here, it was evident in the presentation and more importantly in the taste. Our food was all cooked beautifully, seasoned perfectly and presented to restaurant standards.
We could literally find no fault with our food or the service we experienced. It was an absolute pleasure to eat at The Barleycorn and I'm sure we'll be back in the near future. If you genuinely love food and appreciate its delicacies and nuances, you will quickly become a fan of this pub, and if you love fish, this is a rite of passage.
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Friday, 8 July 2016
We've known about this pub forever, but I've only ever been there once for a quick drink many years ago. The only reason we hadn't already reviewed it was that we never really thought of it as a foodie pub. After our visit today, and a good rummage around their website, we are happy to be proved wrong.
As we were accompanied by Wookie the wonder dog, we decided to take a seat outside. The interior of the pub is everything you'd expect from a traditional old pub. Oak beams, open fire and bags of rustic charm. The barmaids and landlady were very friendly and helpful, making us feel immediately at home. The foodies among you could be forgiven for panicking at the first site of the lunch menu, but the menu doesn't do justice to what is going on here. Read on and all shall become clear.
The lunch menu may be limited, but let's first focus on the fact that you can fill your tumtum for £5, that's a good start. Let us then have a look-see at the pie situation. The Forest of Bere lunch menu leans heavily on the pie aspect, and why not? Pies are a wonderful creation. You can choose from a good selection of pies, including a vegetarian one, with mash and peas, again for £5. And let's be clear, we aren't talking about some ready made, frozen pie, these are homemade and delicious, but more on that later. Other genius points to be highlighted include the freshly made, stone baked pizza's. Would you believe that you can get yourself a 12 inch pizza for £3.95? (Small additional charge for extra toppings). Stick that in your Domino's pipe and smoke it. The final, and probably most ingenious stroke undertaken by the good people at this pub, is to be found upstairs. There you will find The Bengal Forest, as you have probably surmised, this is an Indian restaurant. Pub downstairs, curry upstairs, how perfect is that?
Back to our lunch. At this point we were still unsure what lay ahead, and to be honest, we weren't filled with excitement after reading the basic lunch menu. Dad had ham egg and chips while I had chicken, leek and stilton pie. Let's get straight to it. Dad's ham was very good, what we'd call proper ham. The chips were crinkle cut, which struck us as a little odd, but don't forget, we're talking £5 here. My plate was an entirely different animal, which is lucky as I didn't order ham. My pie was beautiful, one of the best pub pies I've had. The mash was also very good, smooth, buttery and well seasoned. But what brought the whole thing together, and something which is too often overlooked, was the super tasty gravy. Never underestimate the power of gravy.
The only regret we have, is that we didn't find out the magic of this pub earlier. Amazing pie and mash for £5, (Only available at lunchtime). Cheap stone baked pizza, friendly atmosphere, Indian restaurant upstairs. If you were to draw up a radically new concept for a pub blue print, you could do worse than having a good look at what The Forest of Bere is doing. We had a lovely lunch, and personally, I can't wait to go back for a night out to check out the food upstairs.
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Friday, 1 July 2016
We've long been conscious that we haven't uncovered too many good food pubs in Portsmouth. In an attempt to remedy that situation, we headed in to old Portsmouth, and more specifically, to The Wellington. We've been told by several people that we should give it a go, and that's what we did today.
Our first impression upon stepping inside, was one of slight surprise. Expecting a traditional old Portsmouth pub, we found ourselves in a bar come bistro, or at least that's how it felt. The tiled floor, classy fittings and gin menu, put us in mind of a trendy European/London bar. We took a seat and found ourselves looking through a brunch menu. This is available from 11:00am through the week, earlier at weekends. It was more breakfast than lunch, but if you wanted breakfast you'd be spoilt for choice. A full English is £7.95, including black pudding, fried potatoes and Portobello mushrooms, as well as all the usual suspects. There were five lunch dishes on the menu, not including salads. Somewhat lacking in options, I went for fish and chips, Dad picked liver and bacon.
It wasn't until we had ordered our food that we discovered a separate lunch time menu hidden behind an advertisement for live music. You can get yourself a main such as fish and chips or sausage and mash as well as a desert for £8.95, not bad at all.
There is also an evening menu with more choice. Meals on here range from around £10 to £20.
It didn't take too long for the food to come out. First impressions were that my chips weren't home made. I am perhaps being overly fussy, but when fish and chips cost over £12 and the fish is fresh and well cooked, it seems a shame not to go that extra potato mile and throw in some really good chips. Dad's bacon was of a good quality and well cooked and his mash was good, although the meal as a whole was rather on the small side. It came with cabbage, carrots and a red wine gravy. Again, perhaps we are becoming fussy, but we thought an onion gravy would have suited better.
We thought this was going to be a tricky pub to review for several reasons. Firstly, if you want breakfast you are confronted with a wall of options, where as lunch seekers are somewhat less fortunate. Also, we weren't sure about the pubs identity, it even feels odd saying pub. I suppose it is a pub, we just weren't sure it felt like one. On the other hand, we read through the evening menu, which sounds very good. We came to the conclusion that this is probably a place that makes more sense in the evening, if that makes any sense. It's a well appointed pub that is certainly selling good food and we can't really fault them on anything. If you fancy a late breakfast during the week, this is definitely the place to go, and probably if you want some good food in the evening. Lunch isn't bad either, just make sure you know where all the menu's are before you order.