Friday, 18 May 2018

THE CASTLE IN THE AIR - 49 Old Gosport road, Fareham




When Dad picked me up today, he had a plan, and that plan involved a trip to Fareham. He knew of a pub on Fareham quay, just the sort of place you want to visit on a warm and sunny Friday. I committed to the plan, aware that Fareham wasn't on our top five most visited areas. Suddenly eager for a taste of something new, we pulled on our invisible reviewing hats and set off.

We were lucky enough to get a parking space, and then were lucky enough to get a table outside, seemed our luck was in. It was a bit of a letdown when we discovered that you couldn't really see much of the sea from the outside seating. Summoning up our reserves of pub power we refused to be disheartened and got stuck in to the menu. There was an immediate whiff of Weatherspoons about the food on offer, and I don't mean that in a bad way. A wide selection of burgers, pub classics, (2 for £10 something), and a meal plus drink offer. There was a wide selection of options including at least three types of pie, although one of those seemed to be a peppered mushroom pie, I'm not a fan of mushrooms. Everything was advertised at incredibly reasonable prices, most meals well under £10. Once our in-depth analysis was complete, we made our choices. Dad selected the mixed grill at £12. This included rump steak, sausages, chicken, chips, eggs, tomato, I think that was it. I went for, and bear with me here, a chicken and stuffing Yorkie wrap. I've never had one before. If you give me the option of a Yorkshire pudding filled with chicken and stuffing, of course I'm going to have it, and the cherry on the top, £6. It also came with peas.

The service throughout our visit is probably best described as distracted. There was quite a lot of waiting while conversations were finished, a few confusions with prices and orders, and then there was "Garlic-Gate". We ordered some garlic bread to start. This was taken very literally, appearing a full 10 seconds before our mains were delivered. Before we talk about food, let's just confirm the value here. You can get quite a lot of food for not much money, which can only be good, but value must be effected by quality. The Yorkie wrap was a bit tough, but it did indeed contain chicken and stuffing. The chips were okay, I wouldn't call them gourmet as advertised, and my peas were peas. I did also get a pot of gravy. Dad's steak was tough and overcooked and we aren't quite sure what had happened to the chicken. He gave me some and I struggled with it. Every time I tried to eat some I was getting a mouthful of strange texture.

It's funny how things can change so quickly. One minute you're sitting in a pub garden getting excited about some great value honest pub food, then you come crashing back to earth realising that things generally are too good to be true. Coming up with a concept is one thing, but the execution of that concept is quite another. If you can turn out decent, basic food at a good price, more power to you. There's nothing wrong with that, Weatherspoons have turned it in to an art form. But if the low price food you sell is of low quality, how many people will come back? Me and Dad always have a lovely time wherever we go, but you have probably noticed by now that food wise, this one was a bit disappointing.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 5
Food                    6
Value                   8
 Verdict                3*

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