Monday, 30 April 2018

THE WOODMANCOTE - Woodmancote Lane, Emsworth

This week I was joined by two friends who had yet to taste the power of pub reviews. We were to visit The Woodmancote. A pub which I had visited only once before, back in the mists of time. So today, the three of us would put on our helmets of righteous justice and review for all that we were worth.

It was immediately obvious that the pub was busy. Not all together surprising on a Friday night, but a good sign never the less. Fait was certainly on our side, as we nabbed what looked to be the last available table. We found ourselves in the snug, surrounded by some rather quirky art work. This included several pictures of cows with bananas for horns, something which tickled me nicely. The atmosphere was excellent, as you might expect in a warm and busy pub. Everyone was eating, drinking and having a good time.

Drinks orders were taken and menus delivered. As we waited for the former, we got stuck in to the latter. There was a good selection on offer, much of it at very reasonable prices. After much deliberation, and a firm decision to all order something different, we opted for the following. Michelle, chicken burger, Martin, chicken breast stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped in bacon, Me, good old fish and chips. As a rough guide to the cost factor, these all came in around £12. If the food was to be impressive, this would prove good value in deed.

As we drank, chatted and waited for our food, we all agreed that there was a lovely feel to the pub. Somewhere you could happily while away your evening. When the food arrived, there was great excitement, at least in my empty stomach. It was immediately clear to me that I had a piece of fish to be reckoned with. It was comfortingly on the large side and the batter was a master peace. Thick, crispy and tasty, surrounding a beautiful and perfectly cooked fillet of haddock. Each of us were blessed with chips from the same family, descended from that old school, proper chip branch of the family tree, or potato plant. They were a delicious part of the meals, rather than a bland carby accompaniment. If I could suggest one thing about my meal, it would be the option of mushy peas. Although Michelle had chosen to have the burger without a bun, thus rendering it less than a burger and more of a chicken breast, I am told it was wonderful and flavoursome, also served with a salad. Martin thoroughly enjoyed his bacon wrapped, stuffed chicken. Even though he isn't the biggest fan of blue cheese, he said it was beautiful, and would happily eat it again. His chicken was also accompanied by a salad, which was well dressed, unlike me.

When I last visited The Woodmancote, all those years ago, I came away not really knowing how I felt about it. This time, the answer is clear and unequivocal. This was a busy, thriving pub, quirky in places, but full of atmosphere. And the massive cherry on the top, was the fantastic food. All three of us agreed that our meals were excellent, taken up a notch by some good homemade chips. Just a further note on said chips. Martins meal did originally come with skinny fries, so he asked if they could be swopped, this was indeed a possibility. It made me think. Why offer skinny fries when you make such wonderful chips of your own? That's enough about chips. The ultimate question, as always is...Would you return? For us, that was an easy answer. We would all come back in a heartbeat. If you get  the chance, try it out yourselves.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 7
Food                    9
Value                   8.5
Verdict                 5*
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Monday, 16 April 2018

THE SQUARE COW - The Square, Wickham

It's not very often that you get the chance to try out a new pub, as in a pub that hasn't been a pub long. That was the case today, when we visited The Square Cow in Wickham. We found out about it a few weeks back, and promptly slid it up to the top of our pubs to visit list.

At first glance, this doesn't seem like the biggest of pubs, but then you find out the truth, there is another floor. In fact there are three, but the second floor was roped off. Not sure if there are plans to extend the pub over three levels. This is a very old building in deed, dating back to the 16th century, and it's history is in evidence. From the oak beams to the medieval preserved art on the first floor, you can sense the time that has passed here.

The foodie element of the pub is focused on the first floor, so up we went. We were given our menu's, including a special one, and the time to ponder our short term foodie futures. We were first struck by the very reasonable pricing, mains ranging between £8 and £12 on average. There were plenty of options, including jackets, salads and a range of burgers. I was originally drawn to the goats cheese and red pepper quiche on the specials board, only to find out I was too late and it had sold out. I defaulted to a classic chicken burger with cheese. Dad went for the pie of the day, today that meant lamb. Pies are served with a choice of mash or chips, Dad obviously went for the mash. We also thought we would treat ourselves to some garlic bread to start, giving us some extra time to take everything in.

The pub was fairly busy, and therefore, so were the staff. This however did not detract from their quality of service, which was friendly and slick. There was a comfortable feel to the pub, with music playing at just the right level. This made it easy to relax and enjoy our time. The garlic bread came before too long, and was of a generous size. It was also a good quality of garlic bread, crisp and moist in all the right places. Then it was time for the main event. Dad's pie was a very good pie, full of tender pieces of lamb. The mash was smooth and well seasoned, and the vegetables well cooked. My burger was very tasty indeed, the juicy chicken held between a nice toasted bun. My salad was fresh and well dressed with some extra effort going in to the spiralised cucumber. I had the option of chips or sweet potato fries, I went for the latter. They were also good, but as is usually the case with sweet potato fries, they weren't home made.

We had a lovely time at The Square Cow. We had no issues with the food or the service. The pricing was very good, with a good selection of food on offer. We should give one more nod to the quality service we experienced, this is so often missing or overlooked at many pubs / restaurants. We would happily return here, and are delighted to welcome a good new pub in to the fold.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    8
Value                   8.5
Verdict                 4.5*