Friday, 23 October 2015

THE ROYAL OAK - 19 Langstone High street, Langstone

Today we undertook an adventure in to the heart of Langstone, somewhere between Havant and Hayling island. We had been there once before on a Summer's day, and I had good memories of it. For some reason I think of it as a Hobbit pub. I can imagine Frodo and his mates sitting round a roaring fire and drinking from tiny mugs.

Today wasn't a glorious Summer's day so we were to have our first experience of indoor eating at The Royal Oak. It is by no means a big pub, and there are more tables inside than seems possible. When we arrived there was plenty of space so we grabbed a table in the corner and hunkered down to weigh up the menu's. There were several menu options including specials, standard and value. The value menu, which I believe was available from Monday to Friday, offered such things as fish and chips and curry for £5 to £6ish, you can't argue with that. Even the specials and standard menu were sensibly priced between £8 and £10. There was also a bit more imagination on show than we have witnessed in recent menus elsewhere. Having said that, I fancied a burger and Dad had sausage and mash.

I had a particularly good feeling about the chipps in this pub. The menu mentioned triple cooked chips and rosemary and salt chips, the latter were served with my burger, as well as coleslaw. Dad's sausage and mash was a good price, but we did find out upon ordering that it was literally sausage and mash, and if you wanted vegetables you had to order them separately. Never the less, on delivery we found it all to be good. Dad said it was right up there with any sausage and mash he'd had, with particular reference to the quality of sausages. My burger was very good, homemade coleslaw and excellent chips. Regular readers may know I have a thing about chips. How they are often a waist of space on your plate, but can also be one of the best things in the world. These were good chips, just what a potato would long to become. We may have to start awarding a separate chip title to worthy pubs. My point is made by the amount of pubs I would give such an award to. Just three off the top of my head. The Royal Oak (Langstone), The Farmer Inn (Catherington) and The White Lion (Soberton).

All in all it was a wonderful lunch in a lovely little pub. I always think it is a very hidden away pub, unknown to most, but it was actually one of the busiest pubs we've been to in a while. It did get a bit loud towards the end. No fault of the pub of course, we just happened to get a very loud man sitting near us, TALKING VERY LOUDLY!

When looking to eat in the Langstone area, you are actually spoilt for choice. I would however suggest that you give The Royal Oak a go. It's a lovely pub selling good food at good prices, and just to top it off the sea is about twenty feet away.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    8
Value                   9      
Verdict                 4*

Friday, 16 October 2015


This is one of the pubs that was on our list to revisit. We had been here a long time ago, before GastroHub, and wanted to have another look. It's in a pretty part of the world, sitting merrily in the  village of East Meon.
This is a rare breed of pub, found in limbo land somewhere between the old school boozer and contemporary gastro pub. It has a pool table and a T.V. on the go, but serves homemade food at value prices. There's also a garden out back with a play area for the kids should the sun be shining.

The menu was fairly straight forward with all the standard offerings we have come to expect from a modern day pub, including three different types of tart, not seen that before. I went for smoked haddock and spring onion fishcakes with cheesy chilli chips, while Dad went for the burger. The mains were on offer at a very reasonable £6 - £7, while starters and deserts were hovering around the £4 mark.

We didn't have to wait too long for the food to arrive, and it looked pretty much as you'd expect it to. Upon munching, my fishcakes turned out to be delicious. Very much homemade and just the right proportions of fish to potato. The cheesy chips were good, though I did struggle to pick up on any chilli, and I was also treated to a bountiful array of peas. Dad's burger was good and was also homemade. It was joined on the plate by onion rings and exactly ten chips, this may or may not be an issue depending on your appetite.

A great pub is more than you can put your finger on, and equally you can't always explain why a pub doesn't float your boat. The food at the Isaak Walton is good enough, if not too imaginative, and you certainly can't argue with the value. It just didn't feel like a top pub. I want a pub to pick me up and give me a massive cuddle when I go in, especially if it's a bit cold outside. I want to feel like I've been valued and looked after, I want to feel sad that I have to leave. It probably didn't help that it wasn't exactly warm and cosy inside. We think this is the epitome of a three star pub. It still feels like an old fashioned pub that has done food because they have to, not necessarily because they love to. That may be a bit unfair, I don't think the food is the issue, more the pub itself, and that's not so easily fixed. To put this in to perspective though, I'm talking in comparison to the top pubs. If you want some decent food at a good price, you could certainly do a lot worse.

Atmosphere           6
Service                 6
Food                     8
Value                   8
Verdict                3*

Friday, 9 October 2015

THE CHAIRMAKERS - Worlds End, Denmead

Last week, I was invited out on an impromptu afternoon out. This of course would involve food. It was decided that we would be heading in the direction of Denmead, and after some deliberation, we chose to visit The Chair makers. I have of course been there several times before, but it had been a while, so I was interested to see how things had moved on since my last trip.

This pub has a good sized car park, so that's one thing you don't have to worry about. As you would expect of a country pub, there is also a good sized garden. Whenever I enter this pub, my first thought is always, "What a nice pub". It's clean, light, and well maintained.
The three of us were greeted warmly by the landlady, and after collecting drinks, we made our way to a table. Martin had joined me for a review mission before, but Chris hadn't, and was keen to throw himself in to the world of foodie opinion. We collectively trawled through the menu, noticing very quickly that the average price of a main was between £11 and £12, which is bang on the magic button. As well as the standard range of pub food, there is now the option of ordering from a range of pizza's. These come in just under £10, with slight adjustments depending on the toppings.

Martin decided to go for the beef lasagne, I chose fish and chips, and Chris picked the steak and kidney suet pudding. This was of petty interest to me, as the menu stated that said pudding, and pies, all came on mash. It was the one bit that intrigued me. I was inexplicably curious to see if the pies and or pudding would indeed be sitting on the mash. During our time in The Chair makers, we got to see the landlady work. We all came away impressed. She was friendly, professional and helpful. That's always a big tick from me. I've lost count of the pubs I've visited where you are lucky to be treated with a smile.

When the food arrived, everything looked good. I was however slightly disappointed, and this is the foodie snob in me, that the chips were the standard frozen pub chip. They weren't bad by any means, I just maintain that a good quality chip can vastly improve the overall experience. Chris was very happy with his pudding. His mash was smooth and seasoned well. He even commented on the high standard of gravy. High praise from someone known to be a member of the anti-gravy brigade. Martin was happy enough with his lasagne, without being blown away. My fish was cooked well, but there was a most unexpected surprise. The fish hiding within its crispy batter jacket, was smoked. This wasn't really a problem as I do like smoked fish. In fact, not so long ago I had visited another pub that served the same thing. The only difference was, that was advertised as such. I do wonder if it was an accident, as there was also a smoked haddock dish on the menu.

To summarise... This is a lovely pub, and I would happily spend an evening or an afternoon here. It has a lovely feel about it. The landlady is brilliant, and the service is very good. If I had to be critical, and I suppose that's why I do this, I would say that the menu could be a bit more imaginative, and a chip upgrade would be great. I was particularly tickled by a sign pointed out by Martin. It said, "Any children left unattended will be given an espresso and a puppy". You can't beat a good pub sign.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                4*