Monday, 23 July 2018

OUR 12 FAVOURITE SUMMER PUBS




1: THE BRIDGE TAVERN (Old Portsmouth)
This pub is a great place to be when the sun is out, especially if you are lucky enough to get a table outside. You can sit feet from the water's edge enjoying views of the harbour, and the food is excellent.

2:THE ANGLESEY ARMS (Halnaker)
We visited this pub recently, and decided that it was the best pub garden we have found on our travels. You can get some nice local crab, the service was friendly, and the food was good. What more could you ask for?

3: THE BIRD IN HAND (Lovedean)
This is one of my personal favourites. The food here is outstanding. There are plenty of tables out front in the garden, and the outdoor seating has recently been added to with a new garden area out the back.

4: THE MAYFLY (Fullerton)
If you like good pub food and rivers, this is the place for you. There is ample outdoor seating, and if you're lucky, you can sit right next to the river and watch the ducks go by as you eat.


5:: THE DEAN (West Dean)
This pub sells some of the finest food you are likely to come across. Just to put a beautiful cherry on the top, it also has a lovely outside area with some very impressive chunky wood tables.

6: THE WHITE HART (Denmead)
A lovely country pub with a nice interior. There's a good range of food including delicious pizza's, which can all be enjoyed in the relaxing pub garden.

7: THE PUB WITH NO NAME (Priors Dean)
If you like tranquillity and want to get away from everything, this is the place to go. You would struggle to find a pub that is much more out the way. Luckily enough, they also sell wonderful food and drink.

8: THE WHITE HORSE (Southsea)
If the seaside is more your thing, you should pay a visit to The White Horse. Situated a stone's throw from the sea front, there is a great outdoor area at the front of the pub. The food here is good, and served up at a bargain price.

9: THE CROWN AND ANCHOR (Chichester)
Found on Chichester quay, this pub is well worth a visit. Great service, great location, and a good menu with plenty of fresh fish on offer.


10: THE SHIP INN (Limington)
Whilst we are on the subject of pubs and quay's, here's another one. This pub can get very busy, especially during the tourist seasons, but if you can get a table outside, it's well worth doing.

11: THE SHIP INN (Langstone)
Another pub where you can get yourself a table just feet from the sea. There is plenty of seating here, so you shouldn't struggle to get a good view. The food is pretty good with plenty of fish options.

12: THE WILLOW TREE (Winchester)
A quality pub selling quality food. There is a wonderful beer garden here, with the bonus of a river running right through it.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

THE WHITE HORSE - 44 North Walington, Fareham




It was a trip in to the unknown for me this week, having never knowingly entered the land of Walington. Our destination was The White Horse. Dad had provided the pre-visit Intel, so it was now down to us to move in and get the job done.

We found a beautifully convenient car park just over the road and over a small bridge from the pub, and even better, it was free. As we approached the building, I was met by that classic old pub sent of beer. This was in perfect harmony with the insides of the pub, complete with pool table and a friendly lady behind the bar. There are a few tables out the front of the pub, and that's where we decided to place ourselves. The first thing you need to know, is that the food is sold off at a bargain price, virtually everything coming in under £8. We didn't get too excited though. Regular readers will know that we've been burnt several times recently with promises of good and affordable food, I'm looking at you Green King.

There is plenty on the menu to keep most people happy, as long as you aren't looking for fine dining. Things are kept relatively simple on the menu, most meals served with a choice of chips or jackets. Quite a few of the meals are also available in small or larger sizes. I was drawn to the haddock and spring onion fishcakes. These were accompanied by chips and a side salad, and all for less than £8. Dad went for the most expensive thing on the menu, but that was £12 so we'll let him off. For that £12, you can choose from rump, ribeye or sirloin steak, each weighing in at 8 ounces. Whatever your choice, your steak will come with a whole host of friends, we shall come to that later.

Dad had plumped for the rump, and when it arrived, it seemed quite impressive that the friendly lady could hold it up with one hand. The steak was served up with a mountain of chips, a salad, tomato, mushrooms and onion rings. My fishcakes just came with chips and salad. I would like to begin if I may, with the salads. I was impressed, but there was also a twinge of sadness. The elements of the salad were fresh and streaks ahead of your average lazy side salad, comprising of nice leaves, baby tomatoes, onion, pepper and cucumber. The glaring miss for me, was the lack of a dressing. It would have elevated a selection of salad items in to an interesting and valued part of the meal. My two fishcakes were of a good size and tasted very nice in deed. The chips were of the steak cut variety, and rounded off the plate nicely. Unusually, I finished my meal before Dad, who was struggling to make an impact on his pile of food. Everything was fine and dandy on his plate other than the steak itself. He had asked for rare, but he declared it more medium. This in itself would have been no great hardship, but the steak was also a little tough.

Let's get back on the value horse. As I stated at the start, we have visited several pubs of late offering cheaper food and we have been burnt badly. We are happy to report that was not the case here. The value is unquestionable. A huge steak dinner for £12 and anything else under £8, that's a bargain all day long. This isn't a pub masquerading as a restaurant. This is a pub selling decent food at a value price. That's all well and good in principle, but they actually back it up with some pretty good food, even if it is lacking a splash of dressing on the salad. If you're passing through Fareham and you're after a bargain feed at a traditional English pub, pull up in the free car park, cross the small bridge and pull up a seat at The White Horse.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 8
Food                    7
Value                   10
Verdict                 4*

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Saturday, 7 July 2018

THE HORSE & JOCKEY - Hipley, Hambledon




With an endless string of beautiful Summer days behind us, and hopefully ahead, we knew a pub garden was in order. With that in mind, we made the decision to head in to the countryside, and more precisely, the little known area of Hipley, for that dear readers is where the Horse & Jockey lives.

First things first. There is plenty of parking here, and ample garden seating. Before securing our spot outside, it was inside to procure drinks and foodie info. This is where it got a tad confusing. There are three menus, and, yes and, a specials board. Bare with me. There is a restaurant menu, a bar menu, and a garden menu, which is a shortened version of one of the other menu's. After questioning the friendly lady who poured our drinks, we found out that you can't order from the specials menu if you are sitting outside. This left me discombobulating. So many questions. Why is the bar menu different to the garden menu? Why is the bar menu different to the restaurant menu? Why can food from the specials board not be delivered outside? That's enough of that, otherwise I'll be here all day.

As we were definitely going to sit in the garden, we were limited to said garden menu. This being the case, I picked fish and chips and Dad went for steak pie. I had the choice of peas or salad. Peas obviously. I was a bit disappointed not to have the option of mushy peas. Dad had his own choice to make. Chips or mash. He chose mash.

We secured ourselves a lovely table in a separated part of the garden, just before the river crossing, AKA, the bridge. We bathed in the magic of a pub garden, and before long it was food time. Dad's pie was a first for us, not in a good or bad way. It was a slice of pie. That is, part of one big pie, rather than a self-contained, independent pie with its own government and currency. I can divulge that the pastry was good and the filling was very tasty, leading Dad to say that he would happily order said pie again. Not immediately after finishing the one he was eating though. I think he meant at a later date. The mash was good without inspiring poetry, and the peas were peas. My fish was good, the batter was crisp, the chips were fine, (not homemade), and again, my peas were peas. This brings me to the next point. If you are eating in the garden you collect your own cutlery and condiments by the door. This means that salt, ketchup, tartar sauce etc, all comes in those little sashays that you don't see so much nowadays.

Let's do some summarising. The service at the bar was good and friendly. The food didn't take long to appear. The menu situation seems unnecessarily overblown. Personally, I'm not keen on sashays when it comes to sauces. Generally speaking, when your food is delivered in a pub, whether it be inside or outside, you are asked if you would like any sauces. That didn't happen, nor were we asked if everything was okay? As I've said many, many times, homemade chips would make the world of difference. Our lunch also lead me to an epiphany of my own. If I had a pub, I would ban peas, other than mushy ones for fish and chips. It's not that I don't like peas, but they are a lazy offering. The easiest of vegetables to prepare and distribute. How much nicer would it be to be served up some braised cabbage, mashed Swede or cauliflower cheese?

Despite my grumblings, we had a lovely afternoon. It's a nice old country pub, with a lovely garden and some lovely, friendly staff. We do think the menu situation should be addressed, but that is only our opinion, and we live in a world of opinions, which we are all entitled to.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 6
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*

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Sunday, 10 June 2018

THE ANGLESEY ARMS - Halnaker, Chichester




Desperate to squeeze all we can from the slice of pub paradise, we once again entered the outer reaches of Chichester. This time our target was The Anglesey Arms, a pub unknown to the both of us.

As if the pub Gods had decided to bless us this day, the sun emerged and shone its warming yellow magic on our chosen pub. This of course nudged us in to a full exploration of the pub garden. And what a pub garden it was. Let's get one thing out there straight away. We decided that this is probably the best pub garden we have visited thus far. There is ample seating scattered around the sizable and beautifully landscaped garden. There is a children's area and even a petanque set up, (French game, a bit like bowls). This made us wonder why more pubs don't have games, but that discussion is not for now.

This is a dog friendly pub, born out by the approach of the pub dog at the bar. He was wearing a neckerchief saying, "Please don't feed me", genius. The menu read well, and was augmented by a selection on the specials board. It was good to see a few dishes sporting local crab, both potted and otherwise. However, as is often our wont, we decided to test the classics. Sausage and mash for Dad, and fish and chips for me, both coming in at a very reasonable £12.50. It didn't take long for the food to arrive, but in the mean time we bathed in the wonder of a beautiful English pub garden kissed by some early June sun.

The sausages were produced by Mr O'Hagan, so you know they will be good. The mash was smooth, but could have used an extra twist of seasoning. The chips were pretty good, but the star of the show was a lovely peace of fish, of impressive size. A crunchy batter and tasty fish, that's all you want. The pub classics are very useful to scratch a benchmark, showing that basic principals are well understood and executed. Next time we visit, it would be interesting to sample something more elaborate.

This is a lovely pub with a good sized car park, and a brilliant garden. The main bar is great if you want a few drinks, and the restaurant area offers a separate space to sample the food. The service was just right, the menu was good, and the prices were where you would expect them to be. We are talking Goldilocks territory here. We had a wonderful time at The Anglesey Arms, and think that you will too, especially if you can get yourself a garden table when the sun makes an appearance.

Atmosphere 8.5
Service        8.5
Food           8
Value          8
Verdict        5*

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Saturday, 2 June 2018

THE OLD CROSS - 65 North Street, Chichester



Today we decided to throw ourselves open to the whims of the pub gods. We headed in to Chichester and simply let fait shove us in the right direction. Turns out fait isn't very good at finding parking spaces. It was busy everywhere, making it a challenge to get around, and especially to park up. Lucky for this particular review, we did find a space in the end. Panic over.

After a ten minute stroll through the town centre, we came across The Old Cross. We were hungry, and it was busy, so in we went. At first glance it seemed like a nice enough pub. Clean, light and modern. But as we sat down with a drink to read the menu, a strong sense of déjà vu descended upon us. We had seen this all before somewhere, and not too long ago. Then it clicked that we were in a Green King pub, the second we have found ourselves in over the last month. We weren't too impressed with the last one, but since we were there, we bravely marched on.

As before, the menu is full of decent sounding options at very reasonable prices, but we have learnt through sometimes painful experience that these things are more often than not too good to be true. I picked out the sweet and sour pasta with chicken and garlic cibatta, while Dad had the belly pork with mash. Pretty much everything on the menu here comes in well under a tenor by the way. We were warned that due to high demand, there was a half hour wait, but in reality, we were waiting for half that time, so that's a well done.

Let's start with my pasta. It was cooked, and the sauce was quite nice, then dear readers, I'm afraid we are on a downwards hill until the bitter end. The chicken breast sitting atop my pasta still had its skin on. What's wrong with that? I hear you ask. I'll tell you what's wrong. Skin on chicken can be a wonderful thing, but it has to be cooked properly, leaving the skin crisp. I can't even pretend to figure out what they had done to my poor chicken breast, but the skin was an inedible lump of fat. My garlic cibatta was edible, but it was a touch on the limp side. On to Dad's belly pork, I think you can guess where we are going here. To be fair, the mash wasn't too bad, though I think it's safe to say it wasn't made in the pub. The carrots were undercooked and the peas, well, they were just peas. The infamous star of the show on Dad's plate was undoubtedly the pork itself. If I thought I had it bad with the fat on my chicken, it was nothing compared to the lumps of fat falling off the belly pork. It's actually making me feel slightly ill thinking about it. The whole sorry dish was surrounded by a wishy-washy gravy that I would be embarrassed to serve.

In hindsight I think we may have been a touch lenient on the last Green King pub we visited, but after enduring two visits to different pubs under the same banner, I shall be silent no longer. Our clear advice would be, don't even think about eating at a Green King pub. Don't be tempted in by the prices thinking that it can't be that bad. It can. That's not to say you couldn't drink there. Someone has designed a concept, but made no effort to see it followed through correctly. Either that, or the person in charge has no taste and no idea about food or hiring the staff who can do the job.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 5
Food                    3
Value                   4
Verdict                 2*

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