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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