Friday, 8 July 2016

THE FOREST OF BERE - Hambledon Road, Denmead





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.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 8
Food                    8
Value                   10
Verdict                 4*
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