Saturday, 23 April 2016

THE RED LION - Chalton


Today, Father and I took a ride out to The Red Lion. It had been a while, and it wasn't far from our starting point, so we thought we would don our gastrohub caps and take a closer look.

This is a classic country pub, and it feels as much when you step inside. A little on the dark side, but warm and welcoming. We were served drinks and menu's by a very happy and friendly lady behind the bar, which always gets things off to a good start. There is a separate bar and restaurant area, we chose to sit in the former, possibly because it was closer to the bar.

The menu here is good, if not mind blowing. There are a selection of lighter bites for £9, including smaller versions of some of the mains. An average main will cost you about £14 here, which is right on the boarder of Goldilocks Town. It's acceptable as long as the food is at the same level as the price.

We both went for pub classics. Me for fish and chips, and Dad for ham, egg and chips. The triple cooked chip has reached The Red Lion, and is available as an extra, but does come as standard with some meals. I went for the upgrade. There is a good feel to the pub, with music at a sensible background level. I would say that some of the tables are a little close together though. This is a particular pet irritation of mine, especially if you're eating.

The food arrived in good time, and looked good. Dad was happy with his choice. The ham was good, and the egg was an egg. He generally feels that ham, egg and chips could be shown a bit more love though. Perhaps replacing hen eggs with duck eggs, or a dollop of nice pickle. My fish was beautiful, and fresh as a magic daisy. The mushy peas were good, and the triple cooked chips were very nice, though not the best I've had in a pub.

Our experience at The Red Lion was all good. The service was sincere and friendly, the food was very good, and the pub itself is a thoroughly nice place to be. And, if the sun shows its face, there is a garden out back with plenty of seating.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    8
Value                   7
Verdict                 4*


We'd both been to this pub many times, but not since we had started writing reviews. It's a traditional pub, surrounded by fields, trees and all manner of green things. Punters have been attracted here for many years due to its reputation as a good food pub. My first memories of coming here long, long ago, are exactly that, a lovely country pub selling really good food. So for those reasons and so many more, we thought it time to get something on record.

Upon arrival we were blessed with a window of sunshine. An important choice had to be made at this point. Inside or outside? We deemed it just warm enough to sit in the amply seated garden. As is often the case with old buildings, we find the inside can be a bit dark and dingy, especially when you know the sun is showing off outside. We checked out the specials board inside before retreating back to the light and warmth of the garden with our drinks and menu's. We found some of the pricing to be on a rather odd scale. Fish and chips is available at either £7 or £10, that's fair enough, but there were other meals which shouldn't really have cost any different which were up for £13.

It's probably only fair to point out that I was, and still am slightly ill. I didn't really fancy much that was on offer, so played it safe and went for fish and chips. Dad went for the steak pie, even though he had a bad feeling about it. We had a sip on our drinks, blinked twice, and as if by magic the food appeared. We both agreed it had arrived alarmingly quickly. We don't like it when food comes out as though summoned in to existence by a magical demon in the microwave. Good food should take a little time to prepare. Unfortunately our hunch was born out. On the whole the food wasn't great. It was also a bit of an enigma. They had gone to the trouble to make their own chips, that's good. But we are pretty sure they used frozen parsnips to hang out with Dad's pie. The batter on my fish was light and crisp, but the fish itself was watery and just a bit unpleasant to eat. Dad's pie wasn't really a pie either. It was a section of a large tray pie, school dinner style, which had been liberated from its pie brethren. Just to rub mustard in to our wounds, Dad's pie should have been accompanied by mustard mash. I hate to be the one to break this to you dear readers, but there was no sign of mustard in that mash. You can imagine how much that hurt, Dad's only just getting over it.

As you've probably gathered by now, we were a bit disappointed. Not only was the food less than we had hoped for, the prices were more than we had hoped for, if that makes sense. Perhaps we were just unlucky, but we feel that the standards here have dropped over the last few years. I don't know how many people beat a path to the door of this particular country pub, but I do wonder how many of them go home satisfied.

Atmosphere          5
Service                 6
Food                    5
Value                   5
Verdict                 3.5*

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Friday, 15 April 2016

THE WHITE HORSE, (The pub with no name) - Petersfield

This is a pub I'd come across several times whilst surfing tinternet for unexplored pubs. Today, me and Dad were joined by a hairy little helper called Wookie, she's a dog. It was down to this fact that we ended up at The White Horse. I did a quick search for dog friendly pubs, and that was the first pub I found.

Firstly, this pub is really out of the way, sat-nav is highly recommended. Surrounded by fields, it immediately conjures up thoughts of centuries gone by, when pubs were pubs. Not surprising really, as the building is from the 17th century. It's a stunning pub, oozing with character and charm, earning it an award for most unspoilt pub. It has two bar areas and a restaurant, not to mention several roaring fireplaces. Unfortunately our visit was blighted by some dreadful whether, but if you were lucky enough to go on a warm sunny day, there are plenty of tables outside, and there may not be a better place in our fair counties to enjoy a pint and some wonderful home cooked food.

The menu offers a range of pub classics, as well as some more inventive options. There's also a specials board, which is what I chose from. I went for a chicken kiev stuffed with spinach and smoked cheese. It came with real homemade chips and a salad. Dad opted for the steak pie with colcannon. While we waited, we discussed our thoughts, both agreeing that everything was good. If I was to be Mr Picky, I'd like a bit of background music. It was very quiet, as in hearing the clock ticking, and it felt as though everyone was a bit subdued, aware that you could hear every word that was said.

When the food was placed before us, we knew everything was going to be alright. My kiev was immense and the chips were perfect. Dad's pie was also of the immense variety while his mash was beautifully made. An average meal here will set you back between £12 and £13, but we would happily pay that all day long. Considering the pub itself, the surroundings and the food, it was an absolute pleasure to spend a lunchtime at The White Horse, A.K.A, The Pub With No Name. On their website they say they serve some of the best food in Petersfield, we think they can get rid of the "some of", and just say they do sell the best food in Petersfield. Partner that with one of the best looking pubs you'll find and the beautiful countryside it resides in, and it becomes clear this is a pub you simply have to visit, and if you can do it on a sunny day, all the better.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 9
Food                    9
Value                   9
Verdict                 5*

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Friday, 8 April 2016

THE TRAVELLERS JOY - 325 Main Road, Southbourne

Today we went back to a pub we've visited several times before. We have a bit of a soft spot for The Travellers Joy, partly because they'd always been pretty friendly, but mostly because they do good food at a really good price.

It's laid out like many older pubs, with a main bar and a separate lounge bar. This is a dog friendly pub with a few tables out the front, allowing alfresco dining when our English weather allows. There's a log burner in the main bar which was laying dormant on our visit, although the pub was plenty warm enough without it. We also both strangely noticed that the bar is incredibly shiny, perhaps they have access to a secret wax hither to unknown to the rest of the public house community.

When asked which table we wanted, a comedy sketch unravelled before us. We picked the corner table, only for some other diners to come in and take it for themselves. Dad then said we would go for the table by the window, only for another group to come in and sit there. Eventually people stopped coming in and we were able to grab ourselves a place to sit.

There is a selection of light bites on offer at a bargain price of "£6.50, while you can get yourself a starter or desert for around £4. The main meals from the menu or specials board come in between £8 and £13, most of which are under £10, with the upper price being reserved for steak. I went for the nut roast on the board, unable to resist the offer of a roast dinner. Dad went for the steak which came with chips, tomato, mushrooms, coleslaw and as if that wasn't enough, a side salad.

When our food arrived, I was a happy boy. A large portion of nut roast was accompanied by plenty of roast potatoes, parsnips, a Yorkshire pudding and a separate little bowl of vegetables, four different kinds no less. Everything was well cooked and the vegetables were fresh, the one blot on their recipe book being the out of place Aunt Bessie Yorkshire. Dad asked for his steak rare, and rare it was, cooked just right. The chips weren't homemade, but they were cooked well. By that we mean they were cooked enough, unlike your average pale pub chip.

In the hope that publicans will read our reviews and maybe even take some notice, we try to point out possible improvements. With regards to that, we don't have many issues with this pub. If we were being pernickety, we'd have a play list of music rather than trusting in the radio, and perhaps a little more attention to detail with vegetable prep. However, let us not take away from the good things happening here. You will find it hard to find another pub making such good quality homemade food at such good prices, and for that reason, The Travellers Joy will always hold a special place in our hearts and stomachs.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 7
Food                    8
Value                   8.5
Verdict                 4*

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Saturday, 2 April 2016

THE GOOD INTENT - 40 - 46 College street, Petersfield

This pub had been on our list to revisit after eating here several times in the past. So thinking it about time we got a review on the board, we belted up and headed for the wonderful village of Petersfield.

The good intent has a reputation for live music at weekends, as well as an open mic night on Thursdays. It is also a dog friendly pub, at least we assume it is, as there were several dogs in there. It doesn't have a garden, although there are a few seats out the front. A note of caution, the entrance to the car park is quite narrow, so beware if travelling in tanks.

This is one of those nice old fashioned pubs, making its way in the evolving pub market, where the gastro pub is king. Thankfully it has managed to keep its charm whilst adopting the foodie ethic, essential for all modern pubs. The interior is very much of a wood motive, wooden floors, wooden tables, you get the idea.

After ordering drinks, we took a window table and were bought menus to peruse. There is also a specials board, which will divulge details as to the pie or pasta of the week. Starters and sandwiches/baguettes, ranged from £6 - £8, while mains could be purchased for £10 - £18, although the upper price is reserved for steak, as is the case in most pubs. There is also a selection of O'Hagan's sausages on offer, but to be honest, nothing much on the menu was jumping out at us. I picked fish and chips, Dad went for ham and chips, both of which came in at around £13. We've decided to try not to bang on about prices too much, we'll just let you know how much things are and you can make your own mind up.

The food didn't take too long, but as we waited, we both made the same observation. The choice of music for a Friday lunchtime was a bit out of place. It sounded like a, "Get your party started", album, or maybe the beginning of a wedding reception. It'd be fine in the evening, maybe not so much for a quiet lunchtime. When our food was delivered, I felt I had probably got the better end of the deal. Ham can be a wonderful product, but it can also be an average and slightly disappointing thing. I think Dad's came more from the latter category. I was given a lovely big piece of fish, cooked well, although my peas were a little on the cold side. We were interested to see what the chips were like, due to them being advertised as hand cut on the menu. Turns out they were rather good, straight in to the top five chip pubs, if such a thing exists.

This is a nice pub, especially for a drink in the evenings, or if you can grab an outside table during the Summer months. We did feel the menu was a little limited and slightly overpriced in places. The food is of a good standard without being exceptional, the music choice needs a rethink and it could be a few degrees warmer. Having said that, this is a solid enough pub, and well deserving of a place on our lists.

Atmosphere          6.5
Service                 7
Food                    7.5
Value                   6
Verdict                 3*

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