Saturday, 5 March 2016

THE OLD DRUM - 16 Chapel street, Petersfield

This week we headed in to Petersfield to try out The Old Drum. They pride themselves on using local, fresh ingredients, which is always a good start, so we were of course curious to see how it was working out.

It's a lovely looking pub, with a beautiful fireplace and a wood burning stove. Although this is the oldest pub in the area, built in the 18th century, it has managed to fuse the class of a contemporary gastro pub with the rustic qualities it was first blessed with.

Despite the fires doing their best to warm the pub, it wasn't quite what you'd call warm inside, not to say it was cold, but a few more degrees would have been welcome. Still, we were greeted warmly enough and given menu's to take to our chosen table. As we sat down, it became apparent that one of our pub bugbears was making its presents felt. There was no music, despite the high quality speakers which silently mocked us from their wall mounts. Sometimes you can get away with no music if there is a rich atmosphere, but as we had arrived early, there weren't many other people in site. We struggle to understand why you wouldn't think it a good idea to put some nice music on if you were the purveyor of food and drink, surely it would be one of the first things you would think of. Well from our experience this isn't the case.

Let's get to the menu. Prices on the lunch menu range from £7 to around £13, from a sandwich to a fuller meal such as fish and chips, this is excluding the steak which I believe came in at £28. We couldn't help feeling that the menu was aimed at the upper etalons of society, with your pub classics conspicuous by their absence, with the already mentioned exception of fish and chips, which incidentally cost £13. To clarify, we actually thought the menu would have read beautifully with a few additions. It felt as though the menu was written by someone who has assumed that no one is going to want to eat too much at lunch time, I know that makes us sound fat, but we think you need a few more substantial options.

Seeing as I was actually very hungry having forgone breakfast, I went for what I considered the only proper meal on offer, which was fish and chips. The title doesn't really do justice to the reality of said meal. It was fresh fish of the day cooked either in breadcrumbs or as nature intended. Today's choice was refreshingly, plase or gurnard. Since gurnard is something you don't see too often in a pub, I felt it my duty to make that my choice. Even though Dad had also gone without breakfast, he went for a more reserved choice of a chicken BLT, which did come with chips, making it more of a meal than I'd first anticipated.

The food wasn't long in coming and we tucked in eagerly. You could tell at a glance that the chips were well and truly homemade, with the skin left on the potato. We wholeheartedly commend any pub which makes their own chips, but if we were being super critical, they could have been crisper. My fish was beautiful and perfectly cooked, the homemade tartar sauce delicious and the crushed peas made a tasty contribution to my five a day. Altogether a fine example of a plate of fish and chips. Dad's open sandwich was very nice, although we were a little disappointed with the bread. The menu had mentioned homemade bread, and in a pub of such rustic charm we had expected crusty doorsteps. Dad said he would be surprised if the bread holding his sandwich was homemade.

It is important to note that we are striving for perfection, so it is our job to point out where improvements can be made. Although the pub could have been warmer, the chips crisper, and without doubt there should have been some music playing, this is a very good pub. They are to be applauded for doing the right thing by saucing fresh produce and doing their best to present homemade high quality food. They are frustratingly close to a five star pub, but they aren't quite there yet.

Atmosphere          6
Service                 7
Food                    8
Value                   7
Verdict                 4*

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