Monday, 30 January 2017

THE VILLAGE INN - 1 Petersfield Road, Buriton

Revisit: 1/11/18
It's time for another refresh mission, this time in the company of my dear brother, Tom. I thought it was time to see how the Village Inn of Burriton had progressed since it's opening. Dad and I checked it out when it eventually opened for business, and we had mixed feelings. So follow me dear reader, and we shall see what has changed, or not.

This is what I would call a contemporary pub. It is clean and light, no sticky carpets here. There is a small bar, which was being tended by the landlord. It became clear as the evening passed that he was working the front of house alone, but it never seemed to get too much. It is clear from the drinks on offer that this is a modern pub, trying hard to do things properly, you won't find Fosters here. It wasn't too busy, so we had no trouble procuring a table. When we sat down to work our way through the menu, I had the impression that it wasn't much different from my last visit. That's not to say it's a bad menu, it has all the things that you would expect from a pub menu, but we felt it could have done with a few additions that catch your imagination. The other thing that struck us was some of the prices. The burger was £15.50 and the fish and chips £14. But then curiously, the sausage and mash was much more reasonable and closer to £10. If I'm being honest, nothing much was jumping out at me, so I ordered the fish and chips, while Tom went for the burger, this is his standard gage of pub food.

A major gripe from my first time at this pub was the temperature. I remember having to keep my coat on throughout. That I'm glad to say has been addressed, and it was pleasantly cosy. There was also some music to warm the atmosphere. Our food was delivered by the landlord in good time, and we both agreed that it looked good. We also both agreed that the food tasted good. Nice fish, crisp batter, good homemade chips and lovely crushed peas. There was also a good amount of tartar sauce. If I had to make a suggestion, it would be a more generous portion of the peas. Tom's burger was satisfying and of good size, leaving him pleased and free of grumbles.

Considering the landlord was going solo out front, we think he did a great job, remaining calm and methodical at all times. He was also friendly and attentive in a reassuringly understated way. The food here is good, but varies little from the pub classics, and is at points overpriced. The pub itself though is much improved, and a much nicer place to be than when I first visited. How you feel about this pub will largely depend on your general feeling about what a pub should be. If you are a low ceiling and oak beams type, this might not do it for you. If you like minimal, light and modern spaces, this is worth a look. One final note, finding the toilet can be quite the adventure. Down the stairs and round the corner, that's the way to the toilet.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 8
Food                    8.5
Value                   6
Verdict                 4*


It's taken us a while, but we finally managed to get inside The Village Inn. After months of refurbishment, false dawns and several visits finding said pub closed, we gained access, metaphorical note books in hand.

Buriton is a lovely little village, making you feel like you have travelled back in time to when life was much simpler. When children played merrily in the park and lunatics were never voted in to seats of extreme power. This picturesque corner of the world is blessed with two pubs, but it is the newer of the two which was to get our full attention.

This pub feels clean and new in a wooden kind of a way. It has tried to keep some essence of the country pub, without shunning the trappings of modernity. Being that the winter chill was in full swing outside, it was a relief to get inside and feel some semblance of warmth. It was however only a temporary reprieve. After settling down it became clear that it could have been a bit warmer, though in fairness, the obliging manager kindly switched on a heater which happened to be next to our chosen table.

We were given a lunchtime menu to peruse, this didn't offer the widest selection, but enough for most people to find something that appeals. There wasn't much that would suit my fussy tastes, so I ended up going for the fish and chips, Dad opting for gammon, egg and chips. All chips on the menu were advertised as triple cooked, this peaked our interest, both of us being fans of the thrice cooked chip. The manager was reassuringly informed about the food on offer, happily explaining where the produce was sourced and championing its freshness, he also told me that the fish and chips were excellent. Incidentally, an average meal here will set you back somewhere in the region of £12.

When the food arrived, it looked good, my one concern being the colour of the previously mentioned triple cooked chips, but more of that later. We had been told how fresh the super fresh fish was, and so it proved. It was indeed a beautiful piece of fish in a perfect batter. The tartar sauce was delicious and clearly home made. Dad was happy with his gammon, and eggs is eggs, but as much as Dad has told me I shouldn't go on about chips too much, in this case it is important and we would be failing in our duty should we shy away from such a topic. It pains me to say it, but the chips weren't cooked enough, many of them still being unpleasantly hard within their crisp jacket. What I'm struggling with, is how a chip that's been cooked three times can still remain resolutely uncooked. Let's now put that to one side, hoping that this was an unfortunate one off.

This is a nice pub, run by a keen, enthusiastic and informed manager. It has also only been open for business a few weeks at the time of writing, so will understandably still be finding its feet. We shall return at some point in the future to see how things are working out, but until then, go and see for yourself and let us know what you think.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 8
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*


Friday, 6 January 2017

THE CRATE & APPLE - 14 Westgate, Chichester

We happened to drive past this pub a few weeks back and thought we should investigate at a later date, well that date was today.

Before we get in to the actual pub, let's talk briefly about parking. The pub doesn't have its own car park, and spaces outside are reduced to one hour. Your best bet is to use the car park just over the road, although that was a slightly confusing affair, many of the spaces set aside for season ticket holders.

We had no idea what was in store as we bravely stepped in to the unknown, having not heard about this pub through word of mouth or learned anything from the tinternet. Upon entry we were greeted warmly, and more importantly, genuinely. We were told that we could choose a table and our menus would be brought over. You know you might be on to something when the first item on the menu is a pheasant keeve, you don't see one of those very often. In fact the whole menu sounded excellent. There was clearly a chef working here with passion and invention. We were slightly alarmed by the cost of some dishes which were on sale for £18 or £19, but a closer look uncovered some better value to be had. Despite all the wondrous and imaginative meals on offer, we both ordered from the bar menu. Dad choosing ham, duck egg and hand cut chips, (£11), while I went for fish and hand cut chips with a pea puree, (£13).

As we waited for the food, we assessed the pub fundamentals. There was some nice music in the background and the staff were really friendly and as I said at the start, genuine, a very undervalued trait. If we had to point at anything, it was a little cold at first, the small open fire fighting hard against the bitter chill outside. It did however seem to warm up during our visit.

When the food arrived, the presentation reinforced our belief in a top chef. Even simple food can still be well presented, and that was certainly the case here. Regular readers will know about my thing for good chips, a rare thing indeed, so I was keen to see what breed of chip was set before us. The answer was, excellent. They were sizable, but cooked perfectly inside, also blessed with a crisp outside. My fish was beautiful inside and out, just like a beautiful nurse who lives to help others. I wasn't sure at first about the pea puree, wanting some actual peas on my plate, but the puree was delicious and made an interesting change from the norm. I've probably said this before, but this may have been the best fish and chips I've had in a pub. Dad's chips were from the same family as mine, so were equally wonderful, while his ham was a thing of true beauty. The duck eggs were a revelation, showing how a little twist and a bit of effort can make a big difference. He also said that this was up there with the best ham, egg and chips he's had. Although our choices may not have been very original, we believe that the pub standards such as our choices, can tell you allot about a pubs food, whilst giving you a rule to measure against other pubs.

This was a floorless lunch, the very cold day apart. The food and the service was exemplary, and we would both happily revisit in a heartbeat. Yes some of the meals are a bit expensive, but if you look around the menu, you can find something to suit your money bag. We think it fitting that a pub with such a brilliant name is also indeed a brilliant pub.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    9
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*