Friday, 10 February 2017

THE GRIBBLE INN - Oving, Chichester

I came across this pub a few weeks back whilst searching on line for new pubs. Me and Dad were immediately drawn to it because of its wonderful name. After a quick trip to their website, we were satisfied that it was worth a visit, and today was the day to venture out to another pub as yet unknown to us.

It's a beautiful old building from the outside, but it's not until you get inside that you can feel the history. It's one of those stepping back in time pubs, what I call a Hobbit pub. It's easy to imagine Frodo and his friends spending a night here, though Gandalf may have had a bit of hat trouble with the low ceilings.

We found ourselves a table and sat down with the menus. An interesting addition to the standard menu, is the beer bites menu. This is based on a tapas type idea to accompany a tasting board of beers made on site at the pubs very own micro brewery. The pricing of the main menu did at first glance seem a little erratic, with meals ranging between £10.95 and £19, but on reflection we had a certain respect for their menu. Not only did the dishes all sound excellent in their own right, the price had clearly been worked out for each individual meal, rather than the blanket pricing which is adopted by many pubs. Yes, some meals might cost £16, but you can also order a meal which is just over £10, that all seems fair enough. I picked out the lentil and bean burger with goats cheese and red onion, while Dad went for the slightly more luxuriant belly pork which had been braised in cider for four hours. This was served with creamy mash, creamed cabbage, bacon and crackling.

As we sat back and relaxed, it became clear that two of the pub fundamentals were not being met. Firstly, there was no music. This is not by any means a major crime, but can certainly contribute to a better atmosphere. In this case it wasn't such a big deal as the pub had steadily filled with punters. The second however is a major pub crime. It was cold. I had taken my coat off upon sitting down, but had sought sanctuary in its warmth after five minutes. The website does mention roaring log fires, but there was certainly no roaring going on today. And when it's 3 dgs outside, you'd expect some serious roaring to be going on.

When the food arrived, we were happy. It was clearly the work of a very good chef. My burger was delicious, tipped over the edge by the creamy goats cheese. The chips were also excellent, though they were large in stature, they were cooked perfectly with a fluffy inside. Dad was blessed with a great big chunk of super crispy crackling, and he said the mash was the best he'd ever had, high praise indeed.

In summary, the food here is without question five star. The pub itself is beautiful and the staff were friendly and do their jobs well. There is a nice outside area which would be paradise in the Summer. We can forgive the lack of music, this being one of those special pubs which generates its own atmosphere, but I'm afraid we can't forgive the cold. A pub should be warm and welcoming, making you want to remain forever rather than venturing back out in to the cold. If the fires truly were roaring or f it was a beautiful Summers day, this would probably be one of our favourite pubs. Maybe we'll try again in the Summer.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 8
Food                    9
Value                   7.5
Verdict                 4.5*


Friday, 3 February 2017

FOX & HOUNDS - Funtington, Chichester

Another day, another new pub, at least for me, Dad has been here before at some point in the past. This beautiful pub in the small village of Funtington, just wants you to come inside. Especially on a dreary Winter's day, when the drizzle is falling on you from a grey and solemn sky, it beckons you through its doors, in to the warmth, where you can forget about the grip of Winter and enjoy a few drinks and some hot food.

The pub is much larger than it first appears, with an additional restaurant area behind the bar. Despite its size, the pub was warm, a fundamental area in pub hospitality. We examined the menu, including the specials board, and were mightily impressed. This was certainly one of the better menu's we have come across, showing a distinct flare and imagination. I had half expected the prices to reflect the ingredients and dishes on offer, perhaps rocketing in to the unacceptable bracket, but we were pleasantly surprised. Main meals averaged at £12 - £14, what we would consider about right for a good pub serving high quality food. I chose piri piri chicken with spiced sweet potato and spinach, Dad picked from the specials board, putting his faith in the pulled steak inside a bubble and squeak cake.

We soaked up the warm and friendly atmosphere as we waited for the food, noting the Goldilocks levels of both temperature and appropriate music. Before long our meals arrived, and it was immediately obvious that the chef has a wonderful eye for presentation. Both our plates looked stunning, so we quickly tucked in to see if it tasted as good as it looked. It did. The chicken was juicy, the sweet potato lightly spiced and tasty, and the spinach was buttery and luxuriant. Dad's bubble and squeak cake was equally perfect, leaving him unable to make any criticism. If we were to find a single fault, and I realise this is objective, we did find the portions a little small. Being the pub geeks that we are, we discussed this at some length. We decided that as a publican, there is a fine line between leaving your customers feeling short changed, and leaving them with room for a desert, thus collecting a few more penny's. We decided that they fell down just on the right side of that line, and to prove our point, we then ordered a desert. I had white chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding, Dad had an individual lemon meringue pie with blueberry compote. These were both also delicious.

This is without doubt a very fine pub indeed. They have well and truly ticked all the basic boxes. The staff are efficient and friendly, and they haven't succumb to the overpricing policy which is so prevalent in many gastro pubs. There's a fine chef in the kitchen, and most importantly of all, the food is excellent. We always ask ourselves after each pub visit if we would return with friends and family. The answer in this case is a resounding yes.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 8
Food                    8
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*