Friday, 31 July 2015

THE FARMER INN - 300 Catherington Lane

UPDATED 11/7/18

Today it was a delightful and unexpected trip to The Farmer Inn with my sister and her good man. I know this pub well, but haven't been for a while, and thought it a good time to perform a refresh.

Sun plus time for lunch equals pub garden, obviously. The knowledge that The Farmers has plenty of outdoor seating played a part in the ultimate decision to eat there. There is also, for your information, a good sized car park out the back of the pub. We entered the bar, where there was music playing, an improvement from my last visit. We started a tab and withdrew to the garden with drinks and menus. It was a pretty good menu, hovering in the Goldilocks zone. Not too big, not too small. There was something for everyone on offer, including several  meals for our vegetarian friends. When sitting in a sunny pub garden, I can't be bothered with anything that is too much effort to eat, so I was drawn to the southern fried chicken burger. This comes with the option of upgrading to triple cooked chips for £1.50, plus a range of optional toppings. Emily went for the beefy version of the burger, while Rob picked that pub staple, ham, egg and chips.

In just the right amount of time, the food was delivered, and I think they were both a bit jealous of my burger. A mass of chicken breast protruded from the bun it had been housed in. It was also joined on the plate by a hillock of coleslaw. Said coleslaw was very nice, the chips were good, but the burger was a beautiful thing in deed. Juicy, crispy, tasty, everything you would want from a freshly prepared chicken burger. Emily was equally as impressed with her cow burger, which also had a coleslaw chum. Rob was in part drawn to the ham because it had been prepared using ginger beer, and it seems that preparation was not in vain. It was plentiful and delicious. One of the eggs was slightly over done, but that's not yet a criminal offence.

In my mind, this is definitely an outdoor pub. They have been serving good food here for several years now, but it's not quite the whole five star package. If you're in the area, and fancy a drink or a bite to eat in the garden of a good old English country pub, you could do a lot worse than paying a visit to The Farmer Inn.

Atmosphere         7
Service                7
Food                    8
Value                   8
Verdict                 4*


Today we visited The Farmer Inn. It wasn't the first time we've been there and it probably won't be the last. It's semi-rural location gives you that country pub feel without really having to venture in to the sticks. The pub changed hands several years back and the new bosses were keen to stamp their own homemade food on the menu. The pub itself is not the biggest, but when the sun is shining, there is ample outdoor seating at the rear of the pub.

As I said, we had eaten here before and it had always been of a high standard, we are especially enamoured by their triple cooked chips. I have though always had a slight issue with the atmosphere inside. It may just be me, but it never feels very warm and cosy. It's fine in the evening when the bar is full of punters, but lunchtime can feel a bit cold. Don't get me wrong, the service is always good and it's not always cold in the literal sense, but there's just something. Maybe I had a bad experience there in a past life.

We both struggled a bit today picking something from the menu. There was plenty on there but nothing jumped out at us. I ended up going for salmon with triple cooked chips and Dad had ham, egg and triple cooked chips. We also went mad and ordered some garlic bread to share as a starter. When it came I was quite excited. It looked good, but didn't quite deliver.
The main courses were certainly better. I had a good sized peace of salmon and my vegetables were cooked well. Dad was happy enough with his ham and egg, but we both felt the triple cooked chips weren't quite up to their normal standard. They were still better than virtually any chip you'll get in other pubs, just not quite touched by the divine.

I don't have a bad word to say about this pub in truth. The food is good, the service is good, it's just the interior that doesn't quite do it for me. However, if the sun is out and you want some good food, I would certainly recommend a trip to The Farmer Inn, just try and get a seat in the garden.

Atmosphere  6
Service        8
Food           8
Value         8

Verdict      3.5*

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Here is the first of our guest reviews. It's written by Rob Pinhorn, our trusted man in the West country. We'd like to thank him for his invaluable input, expanding our reach when it comes to finding the best food pubs.

Churston Court situated in Churston, near the hamlet of Galmpton, is set in the heart of the English Rivera, and only one mile from the fishing port of Brixham in Devon.
If you're looking for a pub with character, atmosphere and history then Churston court is your destination. A magnificent Grade 1 listed 12th Century Manor House, Churston Court has been skillfully restored to offer modern comforts with traditional charm. Experience a warm welcome with large ingle nook fires and walls covered in original paintings, portraits, tapestries, armor and mirrors. So when you first step in to the building you get the feeling you've been transported back in time.

All the food we've eaten here has been of the highest quality, but Churston Court stands alone for its unmatched Sunday carvery! All the joints of meat perfectly cooked, crisp roast potatoes and heavenly gravy, with a wide choice of fresh veg and condiments.

Atmosphere  10
Service          9
Food              9
Value            9

Verdict        5*

Friday, 10 July 2015


We've known of this pub for some time, in fact my Dad's even been here, but I hadn't. We'd first spotted it after a trip to The Barley Mow in Walderton, and it's been on the list of pubs to visit ever since. Well today we did it. It was my turn to choose where would go, and since it was such a beautiful day, I fancied a country pub where we could sit out and enjoy the best of British countryside.
There's plenty of seating outside, making it a perfect good weather pub. We ventured inside and grabbed drinks and menus from an olde world bar, always makes me think about Hobbits, then back out to nab a big round wooden table all to ourselves.

The menu was just the right size with plenty on there to suit most tastes. Dad went for gammon, egg and chips and I went for half a smoked chicken. Half a chicken can often be a bit of a nothing meal, it is what it is, but I was intrigued by the smoke factor. Said chook was accompanied by skinny chips, I shan't say fries, salad and aioli.
On such a perfect day in such idyllic surroundings, we didn't really care how long the food took to come out. I had a sense of "Last of the Summer wines" as we sat chatting and sipping on our cold drinks.

After precisely the right amount of time, our food was delivered and lovingly placed before us, along with the old standard, "Can I get you any sauces with that?" If you're interested in that sort of thing Dad had ketchup and I was fine with my aioli. fitting with the rest of the day, the food was just right, perhaps we inadvertently wandered in to a Goldilocks parallel universe. If we did, I recommend you visit at your earliest convenience. The smoke flavour of the chicken was subtle, but it was there and the chips were of a good quality and bountiful in number. Dad was happy to be served up a proper peace of ham, and to keep things interesting, his meat was sent out with thick cut chips. Even in The Goldilocks universe variety is the spice of life.

When I had finally worked my way through my chip mountain, we were loathed to leave, such was the perfection of the moment, but eventually, leave we did. This leads well in to the most important of questions which must be asked upon departure. Would we go back? The answer is an uniquivicable yes, but, and there is a but. If the sun was shining I would be happy to sit outside The Hare and Hounds at every opertunity, but I can't help feeling it wouldn't be such a magical experience if the rain was falling and the wind blowing. I'm confident it would still be wonderful, but it would be hard to equal the events of Friday 10th July. Incidentally, when my Dad visited last year it was in fact raining so they were forced to sit inside. It was a Sunday and he is prepared to vouch that their roasts are also very good indeed.
Final note. The below mark for atmosphere is based on sitting outside on a beautiful day.

Atmosphere   9
Service          9
Food             8
Value            8

Verdict          4*

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

THE SMUGGLERS INN - High Street, Milford on Sea

Me and Dad have decided to include input from trusted guest reviewers in order to expand our coverage. The first of these reviews was conducted at The Smugglers Inn in Milford on Sea. I was joined by Rachel, Tommy, Judith, Dawn and Hughsie for a Sunday lunch in the sunshine.

As the sun was shining, we decided to take a table in the ample beer garden, complete with impressive children's play area. After getting some drinks in, we deliberated the options presented on the menu. As I've previously mentioned, I am rather partial to a good roast dinner, and being Sunday, my choice was quick and easy. The other meals up for our collective scrutiny were the burger, jacket potato, baguettes and the classic ploughman's.

The ploughman's I was particularly interested in as you could choose from a selection of cheese and meats. There is also a traditional majesty to a meal of such humble beginnings. It almost makes you proud to be British, thinking of the noble farmer with his crusty bread and lump of cheese. Nostalgic fluff aside, it seems like the perfect choice for an outdoor Summer lunch. Luckily that's what Rachel went for which meant I could steal some of her bread.

The food arrived quicker than a Superman phone box costume change, and it looked good. The ploughman's and my roast were the first to appear.

We found it hard to wait for the rest of the food, trying very hard to stick to the laws of foodie politeness. We didn't have to wait too long before consuming could commence, and  consume I did, with no small measure of enjoyment may I add.

On the whole, the food was of a pretty high standard, though the burger may have let the side down a bit. Adjudged to be acceptable yet certainly not impressive, perhaps we found a chink in the Smugglers armour.

But on the up side, everything else was good. A very good roast, though we did have to ask for a Yorkshire pudding as I didn't have beef, tut tut. A rich and bountiful ploughman's and fresh crusty baguettes with well dressed salads.

All in all twas a solid showing, with a special nod to the roast potatoes. I've been here before and I will certainly come here again. 

Atmosphere   8
Service         8
Food            8
Value           8

Verdict        4*

Friday, 3 July 2015

THE BRIDGE TAVERN - 54 East Street, Old Portsmouth

We thought it time we explored the pubs on offer in Portsmouth, so after a bit of research, Dad decided we were to visit The Bridge Tavern in old Portsmouth. A decision nudged to fruition by the glorious weather. The pub is situated on the water's edge and has plenty of outside tables to take advantage of the view.

As I've mentioned before, it seems pubs by the sea are finally making the most of the produce on their doorstep. As with the last few seaside pubs we've visited, The Bridge Tavern's menu is heavy on the fish. There are of course other non fish based offerings so don't be put off if you're not a fan of our legless friends.

The interior of the pub seemed well attired and the staff welcoming, but we didn't spend much time in the building. We ordered drinks, grabbed a menu and headed for the outside. A quick perusal was enough to see we had another goldilocks menu on our hands. Not too big and not too small. I have noticed a definite trend of food pubs moving in the right direction of late. Fresh produce, homemade food and a goldilocks menu are all key ingredients when running a successful pub. We are living in good times as far as pubs are concerned, as long as you go to the right ones, that's where we come in.

I ordered the fish pie and Dad went for brazed ham hock. After just the right amount of time had passed, our food appeared. We could tell immediately that we had struck gold, especially where my Dad was concerned. After a few mouthfuls he was getting very excited, in fact I have never seen him so enamoured by a plate of food. My fish pie was also very good. We were lucky enough to bump in to the chef outside whilst he was preparing a hog roast for the evening. He was happy to explain how he cooked the ham and equally happy to hear how much my Dad enjoyed it.

If you're ever in the Portsmouth area, especially on a sunny day, be sure to head for The Bridge Tavern, you won't be disappointed, we certainly weren't. In fact we were so impressed it's going straight in to our top pub list, 'ows about that then. 

Atmosphere   9
Service         9
Food            10
Value           8

Verdict        5*