Sunday, 10 June 2018

THE ANGLESEY ARMS - Halnaker, Chichester

Desperate to squeeze all we can from the slice of pub paradise, we once again entered the outer reaches of Chichester. This time our target was The Anglesey Arms, a pub unknown to the both of us.

As if the pub Gods had decided to bless us this day, the sun emerged and shone its warming yellow magic on our chosen pub. This of course nudged us in to a full exploration of the pub garden. And what a pub garden it was. Let's get one thing out there straight away. We decided that this is probably the best pub garden we have visited thus far. There is ample seating scattered around the sizable and beautifully landscaped garden. There is a children's area and even a petanque set up, (French game, a bit like bowls). This made us wonder why more pubs don't have games, but that discussion is not for now.

This is a dog friendly pub, born out by the approach of the pub dog at the bar. He was wearing a neckerchief saying, "Please don't feed me", genius. The menu read well, and was augmented by a selection on the specials board. It was good to see a few dishes sporting local crab, both potted and otherwise. However, as is often our wont, we decided to test the classics. Sausage and mash for Dad, and fish and chips for me, both coming in at a very reasonable £12.50. It didn't take long for the food to arrive, but in the mean time we bathed in the wonder of a beautiful English pub garden kissed by some early June sun.

The sausages were produced by Mr O'Hagan, so you know they will be good. The mash was smooth, but could have used an extra twist of seasoning. The chips were pretty good, but the star of the show was a lovely peace of fish, of impressive size. A crunchy batter and tasty fish, that's all you want. The pub classics are very useful to scratch a benchmark, showing that basic principals are well understood and executed. Next time we visit, it would be interesting to sample something more elaborate.

This is a lovely pub with a good sized car park, and a brilliant garden. The main bar is great if you want a few drinks, and the restaurant area offers a separate space to sample the food. The service was just right, the menu was good, and the prices were where you would expect them to be. We are talking Goldilocks territory here. We had a wonderful time at The Anglesey Arms, and think that you will too, especially if you can get yourself a garden table when the sun makes an appearance.

Atmosphere 8.5
Service        8.5
Food           8
Value          8
Verdict        5*

Saturday, 2 June 2018

THE OLD CROSS - 65 North Street, Chichester

Today we decided to throw ourselves open to the whims of the pub gods. We headed in to Chichester and simply let fait shove us in the right direction. Turns out fait isn't very good at finding parking spaces. It was busy everywhere, making it a challenge to get around, and especially to park up. Lucky for this particular review, we did find a space in the end. Panic over.

After a ten minute stroll through the town centre, we came across The Old Cross. We were hungry, and it was busy, so in we went. At first glance it seemed like a nice enough pub. Clean, light and modern. But as we sat down with a drink to read the menu, a strong sense of déjà vu descended upon us. We had seen this all before somewhere, and not too long ago. Then it clicked that we were in a Green King pub, the second we have found ourselves in over the last month. We weren't too impressed with the last one, but since we were there, we bravely marched on.

As before, the menu is full of decent sounding options at very reasonable prices, but we have learnt through sometimes painful experience that these things are more often than not too good to be true. I picked out the sweet and sour pasta with chicken and garlic cibatta, while Dad had the belly pork with mash. Pretty much everything on the menu here comes in well under a tenor by the way. We were warned that due to high demand, there was a half hour wait, but in reality, we were waiting for half that time, so that's a well done.

Let's start with my pasta. It was cooked, and the sauce was quite nice, then dear readers, I'm afraid we are on a downwards hill until the bitter end. The chicken breast sitting atop my pasta still had its skin on. What's wrong with that? I hear you ask. I'll tell you what's wrong. Skin on chicken can be a wonderful thing, but it has to be cooked properly, leaving the skin crisp. I can't even pretend to figure out what they had done to my poor chicken breast, but the skin was an inedible lump of fat. My garlic cibatta was edible, but it was a touch on the limp side. On to Dad's belly pork, I think you can guess where we are going here. To be fair, the mash wasn't too bad, though I think it's safe to say it wasn't made in the pub. The carrots were undercooked and the peas, well, they were just peas. The infamous star of the show on Dad's plate was undoubtedly the pork itself. If I thought I had it bad with the fat on my chicken, it was nothing compared to the lumps of fat falling off the belly pork. It's actually making me feel slightly ill thinking about it. The whole sorry dish was surrounded by a wishy-washy gravy that I would be embarrassed to serve.

In hindsight I think we may have been a touch lenient on the last Green King pub we visited, but after enduring two visits to different pubs under the same banner, I shall be silent no longer. Our clear advice would be, don't even think about eating at a Green King pub. Don't be tempted in by the prices thinking that it can't be that bad. It can. That's not to say you couldn't drink there. Someone has designed a concept, but made no effort to see it followed through correctly. Either that, or the person in charge has no taste and no idea about food or hiring the staff who can do the job.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 5
Food                    3
Value                   4
Verdict                 2*