Today it was a long overdue visit to The Deers Hut. We had both only ever been there once before, and that was back in the distant pre-review days.
The pub itself is a lovely building, in a lovely part of the world. So that's a good start isn't it? Parking is easy, and there is a nice seating area out the front with solid, chunky wooden tables. All good so far. Upon pushing open the door, we were greeted by the sounds of a bustling pub on a busy lunchtime, always a good way to begin your visit. When enquiring about the possibility of lunch, we were sullenly asked if we had booked. It certainly wasn't the warm welcome that had been promised by the pubs exterior and entry atmosphere. Much like a pair of hungry heat seeking missiles, we honed in on the menu. Now, we have been here before, but unfortunately it is time to go again. Prices. Let's get the gastro elephant out the room straight away. The average cost of a main meal here is around £16. That includes such staples as fish and chips and ham, egg and chips. I picked out the supreme of chicken with fondant potato and a tarragon sauce, £16. Dad went for the ham, egg and chips, just under £15. Unless I'm very much mistaken, chips are made of potato, which doesn't cost much, and last I checked, eggs aren't going to blow your weekly shopping budget. That's all I can say about £15 for ham, egg and chips. Just to put the costing in to sharp relief for you. A side order of wilted spinach. Have a guess. Go on, have a good think about it. The answer is...£4. Nuf said.
Let's leave the price behind for now and concentrate on the food. Dad's chips were average, eggs is eggs, and the ham was nice, but on the thin side. On a positive note, my food was very nice in deed. The chicken was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin, the fondant was soft and tasty, and the accompanying vegetables were well cooked. The sauce was nice, but sparse.
Now we get to the business end of things. As I said at the start, the pub itself is a lovely building with a tasteful interior. The food is good, as are the chunky wooden tables. Someone needs to put a few coins in the happy joy joy meter though. The difference a friendly manager or staff member can have on your experience is vast, and is something that all pubs should focus on. Now to the big one, the cost. I've said this before, and I'm sure I will say it again. Prices have to make sense. The cheapest thing on the main menu was the burger at a few pennies under £14. When you are including vegetable lasagne, fish and chips and ham, egg and chips in that, something is inherently wrong. I'm sure arguments could be put forward about quality, regional ingredients, but we all know how much chips cost. We all know how much vegetables cost, and we all know that a small bowl of wilted spinach shouldn't cost £4. This could be a great place to eat. Some of the food is wonderful, but for us, it's all out of balance. If you are going to pay £16 for a pub meal, you should be demanding near perfection and impeccable service. That just wasn't the case today.