Friday, 26 June 2015

THE MAYPOLE - 9 Havant Road, Hayling Island

It seems of late, me and Dad have been inexorably drawn to the sea. We found ourselves venturing back to the island to visit one of its top rated pubs. We have literally driven past The Maypole hundreds of times, but neither of us had ever been there.

Straight away the atmosphere seemed warm and welcoming. As we got our drinks and made our way to a table, Dad told me he'd seen a sign advertising their pie of the day, a soft spot of mine. Who doesn't like pies? Every pub should do pies, it's a true British classic.

The menu wasn't expansive, neither was it too small, you might say it was a Goldilocks menu. One thing stood out immediately. Everything was homemade and much was made from local produce.

This is the point where you start to feel good about a pub. Like you're making friends and learning to trust it. We had some garlic bread to start off with, which was very good garlic bread, then we both went for fish and chips. I know this seems to be a recurring theme, it must be something to do with being so near the seaside. As unoriginal as our choices may have been, we were glad we made them. They turned out to be what might be the best fish and chips either of us had ever had in a pub. Crispy homemade chips and freshly made fish. It's a simple thing but so rarely done well.

The Maypole certainly jumps in to our quality pub list, and next time we're driving past, we might stop off again for some high grade pub fodder.

Atmosphere   8
Service         9
Food            8
Value          8

 Verdict      4*

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


We were quite keen to visit this pub as it is rated number one for Liss on Trip advisor. There are plenty of good pubs in the area, so we were hopeful of finding something special.

As I've said before, it can be tricky to get a true feel for a pub at lunchtime. It can often be quiet, and this was the case when we arrived. It was a nice enough pub, warm, comfortable, welcoming and with inoffensive music playing at the right level.

Some pubs will have the same menu for lunch and dinner. Some are big and some are small. Here there was certainly less to choose from than there would be in the evenings, but there was something for everyone. Fish and chips, sandwiches and the like, as well as a few things on the specials board. This included a goats cheese and red onion tart, which is what I went for. Dad had ham, egg and chips, he sees this as a good meal to judge a pub by.

It started to fill up a bit as we waited for the food. Before long it turned up. It was well presented and it was immediately obvious that they do things properly. 

My tart was homemade and tasty, the salad was fresh and well dressed, the chips were chips, I've made my feelings about pub chips clear in previous reviews. My Dad was happy enough with his allotted fodder, though not blown away.

I think over all, it is a pub that we would be happy to eat in again, though we probably won't be in any hurry. I'd like to come back in the evening and have a look at their full dinner menu.

Atmosphere   7
Service        7
Food            8
Value          8

Verdict       3.5*

Monday, 8 June 2015

THE OLIVE LEAF - 48 Seafront, Hayling Island

This week we ventured over the sea to a pub hither to unexplored. Hayling Island is a popular tourist destination, and like all seaside towns, it can suffer from tourist traps. Bad places to eat, serving quick food with little quality of service, safe in the knowledge that the customer probably won't be back anyway. Also the person carrying out said bad service will often have little affiliation with the pub/restaurant/cafe so won't really care too much.

It was therefore refreshing to find a pub on the seafront that did care. We entered a mostly empty pub, slightly worrying. But we were given a warm and friendly welcome. Amazingly enough the menu offered a wide range of fresh fish. For the second week in a row we have gone to a pub by the sea which specialises in fresh seafood, perhaps Rick Stein is finally getting through to people. Despite all the wonderful fish on offer, we both decided to go for fish and chips. The sun was shining, we were by the sea in a pub that does fresh fish, it felt like the right thing to do.

Before long, the food came out and it was good. Good fish, mushy peas, delicious tartar sauce and tasty chips, a rare treat indeed. Me and my Dad often say it's the little things that make the difference, things you remember for good or bad. A good example of a little thing which we thought was a brilliant idea, the fish and chips was served on greaseproof paper which had been printed to look like newspaper, nice touch.

As we ate, the pub began to fill a bit, improving the atmosphere and showing that The Olive Leaf has a loyal and happy patronage. The final cherry on the pub shaped cake was an endangered species, a fun and friendly landlord who genuinely seemed to love his job and his pub.

Atmosphere   7
Service         8
Food            8
Value           8

Verdict        3*