We are currently exploring a hot bed of foodie pubs on the outskirts of Chichester, and today's target on our hotlist was The Coach and Horses. As its name suggests, it was originally a coach house in the 17th century, so it has that priceless character that can only be found in an old English pub.
Neither of us had been to Compton before, so we were looking forward to a new landscape, and hopefully some good food. I must admit that some of that excitement swiftly drained away upon entering the pub. Not to say there is anything fundamentally wrong with the pub, it was more that dreaded feel of a ghost pub. It was a little bit too cold inside, we were the only people there, and it was deathly silent,, one of my pet hates. We were however greeted warmly enough, and to be fare, they did stoke up the fire once we had taken a seat., although a bit of background music wasn't so forthcoming. Quick note to any landlords out there. It's not good for the atmosphere when every word you say can be overheard by the staff, it makes people slightly uncomfortable.
The menu wasn't bad at all though, and we quickly found something that tickled our interest buds. I was already contemplating the fish pie when we were informed that the fish had come in fresh that morning. With that in mind, I stuck with the pie, while Dad went for fish and chips. This is where I usually talk about prices, but I think I'll come back to that later. The main bulk of food on offer is advertised on the specials board, but there is also a bar menu if you fancy something a bit lighter.
As we waited for our food, with my coat still on I might add, a few other people joined us in the bar. It helped the atmosphere along and made it easier to talk amongst ourselves. I was quite impressed with the look of my pie when it arrived, clearly homemade and in its own little dish, topped with a crown of mash and cheese. At a second glance though, I felt it looked a bit lonely, crying out for a chunk of crusty bread. The pie itself was delicious, I couldn't really fault it. A very tasty and creamy sauce, possibly laced with tarragon, carried the cod, salmon, smoked haddock and prawns beautifully. Dad's fish was also beautiful, all the better for its freshness. It was encased in a lovely crisp batter and accompanied by homemade tartar sauce. The chips, although not homemade, were cooked well and were also of the crispy persuasion.
Now we come to the cost of described meal. My fish pie was over £14. Baring in mind it was literally just a fish pie, no salad or bread, I think that's pushing it. Yes it contained fresh fish, but in truth, you don't actually get that much fish in a fish pie. Dad's fish and chips was about £12.50, which you can just about get away with, although for that price we'd like to see homemade chips.
In essence this is a nice pub serving nice food, but as with so many pubs it is a case of nearly. Just a few simple adjustments could turn this nearly pub in to a special one. It would be the work of a moment to get the fire on before the lunchtime trade begins and unleash a relaxing playlist. What might not be quite so easily addressed is the price of the food. I don't pretend to know what individual pubs pay for their produce, but I do know what I pay for it, and I know how to cook it, and we don't think those things balance out in some of the pricier pubs we've visited.
This may just be one of those pubs which is best visited in the evening, or in the Summer months, maybe we were unlucky in visiting the one day when the stereo had broken. Regardless of these minor imperfections, we wouldn't put you off a visit to The Coach and Horses, just dress warm and maybe take your own i-pod speaker.
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