Saturday, 7 July 2018

THE HORSE & JOCKEY - Hipley, Hambledon

rEVIEWED 1/8/19A

fter hearing that The Horse and Jockey had changed hands, I felt it was my duty to investigate. Joined by my sister Emily and her good man Rob, we set off in to the unknown like three hungry cowboys/girl.

From the outside, things are of course the same. Parking is not a problem, and the garden remains a lovely spot to relax. The first thing I was eager to check, was the menu situation. It had previously been overcomplicated and nonsensical. The main frustration being that orders from the main menu, weren't allowed to be eaten in the garden. Praise be, this is no longer the case. All food can be eaten in the pub, or outside. That's as long as you don't venture over the bridge, this is deemed too far for staff to march back and forth, which is fair enough. We took a table outside, on the right side of the bridge. It was decided that we would have a starter, and after much painful deliberation, I picked one of my favourites, chicken liver pate. Rob went for the chicken sate, and Emily went with calamari. All came in around £5. The big point of interest as far as my starter was concerned, was would there be the right ratio of toast to pate. This is the eternal question, and to my knowledge has never been achieved.

When our starters arrived, my sister was less than impressed by the brown plates, which is of course objective. However, the food was all very nice in deed. Rob's sate was good, but he would have liked a bit more source. Emily was pleased with her calamari, as I was with my pate. I'm afraid the quest for toast to pate ratio goes on dear readers. I was left with a fair amount of pate with no toast to keep it company. After an in-depth discussion, we agreed that perhaps the toast was right, and there should have been a touch less pate. I reluctantly accepted this notion since it is after all a starter, and you don't want to be full before your main appears.

Speaking of mains. I chose the supreme of chicken with dauphinoisepotatoes and kale. Emily went for the ribs with chicken wings, on the proviso that Rob would eat said wings. While Rob selected the burger, with the optional addition of blue cheese. Emily's order was a serious plate of food. The ribs and wings were joined by chips, salad, coleslaw and half a corn cob. This came in at £17, which is certainly fair enough for that lot. My chicken was very good, and the potatoes were cooked through and well seasoned. Rob was particularly delighted with his burger, saying it was the best he'd had in the area, and would happily eat it again. I should also add that our mains arrived on lovely white plates.

The total bill for all this, including drinks, was around £70, which we thought was fair enough. The quality of food was high, and the portions were good. The brown starter plates are debatable, and the happy McSmiles service could do with some practice, but we thoroughly enjoyed our garden lunch, and wouldn't hesitate to return.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 7
Food                    8
Value                   8
Verdic                  4*


With an endless string of beautiful Summer days behind us, and hopefully ahead, we knew a pub garden was in order. With that in mind, we made the decision to head in to the countryside, and more precisely, the little known area of Hipley, for that dear readers is where the Horse & Jockey lives.

First things first. There is plenty of parking here, and ample garden seating. Before securing our spot outside, it was inside to procure drinks and foodie info. This is where it got a tad confusing. There are three menus, and, yes and, a specials board. Bare with me. There is a restaurant menu, a bar menu, and a garden menu, which is a shortened version of one of the other menu's. After questioning the friendly lady who poured our drinks, we found out that you can't order from the specials menu if you are sitting outside. This left me discombobulating. So many questions. Why is the bar menu different to the garden menu? Why is the bar menu different to the restaurant menu? Why can food from the specials board not be delivered outside? That's enough of that, otherwise I'll be here all day.

As we were definitely going to sit in the garden, we were limited to said garden menu. This being the case, I picked fish and chips and Dad went for steak pie. I had the choice of peas or salad. Peas obviously. I was a bit disappointed not to have the option of mushy peas. Dad had his own choice to make. Chips or mash. He chose mash.

We secured ourselves a lovely table in a separated part of the garden, just before the river crossing, AKA, the bridge. We bathed in the magic of a pub garden, and before long it was food time. Dad's pie was a first for us, not in a good or bad way. It was a slice of pie. That is, part of one big pie, rather than a self-contained, independent pie with its own government and currency. I can divulge that the pastry was good and the filling was very tasty, leading Dad to say that he would happily order said pie again. Not immediately after finishing the one he was eating though. I think he meant at a later date. The mash was good without inspiring poetry, and the peas were peas. My fish was good, the batter was crisp, the chips were fine, (not homemade), and again, my peas were peas. This brings me to the next point. If you are eating in the garden you collect your own cutlery and condiments by the door. This means that salt, ketchup, tartar sauce etc, all comes in those little sashays that you don't see so much nowadays.

Let's do some summarising. The service at the bar was good and friendly. The food didn't take long to appear. The menu situation seems unnecessarily overblown. Personally, I'm not keen on sashays when it comes to sauces. Generally speaking, when your food is delivered in a pub, whether it be inside or outside, you are asked if you would like any sauces. That didn't happen, nor were we asked if everything was okay? As I've said many, many times, homemade chips would make the world of difference. Our lunch also lead me to an epiphany of my own. If I had a pub, I would ban peas, other than mushy ones for fish and chips. It's not that I don't like peas, but they are a lazy offering. The easiest of vegetables to prepare and distribute. How much nicer would it be to be served up some braised cabbage, mashed Swede or cauliflower cheese?

Despite my grumblings, we had a lovely afternoon. It's a nice old country pub, with a lovely garden and some lovely, friendly staff. We do think the menu situation should be addressed, but that is only our opinion, and we live in a world of opinions, which we are all entitled to.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 6
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*

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