Friday, 26 October 2018

THE RAFT ROCKS - Hurst Road, Milford on Sea

On another ridiculously sunny October day, Rachel and I decided to pay a visit to The Raft Rocks in Milford on Sea. We had been many times before in its previous guise in Milford high street, but I hadn't been since it's move to the sea front.

We arrived fairly late for lunch, but luckily for us the kitchen hadn't quite closed, and we were told that if we got our orders in quick we would be alright. Before the food, let's talk about the place itself. There is outdoor seating with a view over the sea, and out to the isle of Wight, but we opted for an inside table. The restaurant is surrounded by large windows, allowing the light to flood in. There is a cool, relaxed vibe to the whole place, with a reggae playlist lending a calm, holiday feeling to the atmosphere. The food on offer includes burgers, pizza's, fish and chips and many other offerings. But don't be fooled by the standard sound of the menu. Everything here is homemade, with classy twists lifting the dishes above the norm.

We picked out a booth, which gives you a sense of having your own space without shutting you off from the rest of the restaurant. I picked out the chicken and brie burger, while Rachel went for the fish and chips. These, along with two Coke's, came in at £30, which isn't bad at all for a good quality feed by the sea. The service was friendly and exemplary throughout, and it wasn't too long before our food arrived. The only stumbling block was the shortage of brie for my burger. But it was dealt with well, and I was asked if I would be alright with cheddar instead.

Rachel's fish and chips were delicious. The perfect fish was kept company by some homemade chips and a pea fritter, nice little twist there. Not forgetting the home made tartar sauce. My burger was lovely. A beautifully cooked chicken breast with melted cheese, served with the same chips, as well as a beautifully dressed side salad and a small pot of homemade coleslaw. We were both very happy, and could find nothing to take issue with.

This is a very cool place. The staff are helpful and professional, something which is surprisingly rare. The food is excellent and imaginative, and the restaurant itself is a great place to be. The biggest achievement for me, is that this is all accomplished without overcharging. The prices are perfectly fair, and once you have been here, you will want to come back and tell your friends about it.

Atmosphere          9
Service                 10
Food                    8.5
Value                   8
Verdict                 5*

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

THE LORD RAGLEN - 35 Queen Street, Emsworth

Wanting to make the most of some unseasonal warmth, Dad and I took the chance to journey to a pub that's been on our, "Pubs to visit when the sun's out", list. The pub in question was The Lord Raglen, and the reason for its good weather priority, was down to the secret garden, but more on that in a bit.

If you've been to Emsworth before, you will know that parking can be a touch troublesome at times. This looked to be the case when we rolled in to town, our chosen pub not having its own car park. Then the pub God's smiled upon us, suddenly granting us a space almost right outside the pub. We entered in to an establishment in the midst of a refresh/refurb, so pausing only to collect drinks, and wiz through the menu and specials board, we aimed ourselves squarely at the secret garden. The petty cynic inside us pointing out that it wasn't really secret because there was a sign advertising its presence.

A main meal here will set you back on average a very standard £11. That was borne out by the total cost of both our meals, £22. Being near the water, I did as I so often do, pick the fish and chips. Dad also went classic, with the gamin, egg and chips.

The secret garden isn't by any stretch the nicest pub garden you will come across, but you can't grumble about the location. Just yards from the end of the garden is the water's edge, bringing with it that invigorating sent of the ocean. We sat on our wooden table soaking up the sun, finding it hard to believe that we were in October. The time before our food arrived was approaching the food event horizon, when time subconsciously ticks past the point of expectation. We have discussed this before, and reckon that once you start getting close to 15 minutes, you can feel the switch moving in your head, telling you that it's been a while since you ordered. I can best describe my fish and chips as good. I was given a good sized peace of fish which wasn't over cooked. The chips were good, if not homemade. It was all good, and priced just about right. My only minor niggle was the absence of tartar sauce on my plate, preferably in a nice little pot, and even more preferably, homemade. Instead I had to make do with a basket of those little packs of sauce that I can never open. This also included salt and pepper, though their packaging was infinitely easier to get in to. Dad's meal was also good, everything being cooked well enough without inspiring gasps of incredulity.

In essence, our trip to The Raglen was good, much of that value put down to the weather and the gardens location. That's not to say there was anything wrong with the other elements of our experience. The service was good, the food was good, and the prices were fair. I did notice that there was no music in the pub, which would have bothered me if we had eaten inside. We have nothing bad to say about The Lord Raglen, and would recommend a trip to the garden when the sun is out. This is what we would call a good solid pub. It isn't in need of rescue, neither is it pushing for excellence.

Atmosphere          7
Service                 7
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*

Saturday, 13 October 2018

VILLAGE HOTEL PUB & GRILL - Lakeshore Drive, Cosham

Today's adventure is brought to you in conjunction with my sister Emily, and her lovely man, Mr Rob. Emily suggested we try The Village Hotel, and always keen to try something new, I was happy to jump on board with the idea. This is a relatively new place, built in 2017. It is obviously a hotel, but part of it's substantial edifice given over to the pub and grill, and that dear readers is where we headed.

My first impression was that this is less a pub, and more a diner, all be it a very nice diner. This feeling lent weight by the tiled floor and neon signage. We had no trouble getting a table, which incidentally had very nice and comfortable chairs. We did have to wait a little while for menu's to appear, but that just gave us some extra time to assess. There was a good number of staff in view, which made me feel that orders would be taken from our table, this isn't the case. If you want something, it's a good old fashioned trip to the bar.

The menu was fairly sizeable, including a good selection of burgers, as well as your pub classics, wraps, and ribs. There were only three desert options though, each served curiously in a mug. Your choice is chocolate mousse, lemon cheese cake or crembrulet, each coming in at just under £6. Most main meals were around £12, which is pretty standard now a days.

I selected the Hawaiian stack burger. This was comprised of two flattened chicken breasts with pineapple, accompanied by the obligatory fries, with the option of an upgrade to sweet potato fries. Rob went for the American stack. This saw two beef burgers joined in a bun by bacon and, wait for it, peanut butter. Emily picked the half rack of ribs, which came with fries and coleslaw.

When it arrived, the food looked pretty good, and indeed tasted pretty good. The insides of the burgers were straining against the confines of their respective buns, the chicken was juicy, with a nice char grilled edge. I'm assured that the peanut butter burger was delicious, and that the ribs were also very good. The fries were just fries. Nothing to get excited about, but equally, nothing to be disappointed with. I will always advocate and champion the use of homemade fries/chips, but unfortunately my dream world full of delicious homemade chips is nothing more than a wild fantasy.

My sister was adamant that we were to have deserts, so Rob and I jumped on the sweet train, not wanting to seem rude. We both had the cheesecake, while Emily had the chocolate mousse. This I'm afraid is where the negative rears its head. Considering that there were clearly plenty of staff, and it wasn't super busy, it took an awful long time for someone to clear our plates. Also, while I'm on the grumble bus, no one asked if our food was okay, nor were we asked if we would like deserts. Eventually our mug puddings were ordered and placed before us. Although the cheesecake was pleasant enough, the filling wasn't really of a cheesecake consistency. I'm also not convinced that cheesecake works in a mug. The biscuit base is just too far removed from the top of the filling, leaving you with spoonfuls of rich creamy stodge before you break through to the biscuit. My sisters moose on the other hand was very nice in deed. It was however very rich and dense, Emily being very keen to stress just how dense it was, insisted that I try said moose. It was, as she says, very dense, but good. Those of you of the, "Can we share a pudding?", persuasion be warned, you probably won't be able to finish it.

After deep and frank discussions with my fellow diners, we came to the conclusion that this is quite a nice place to go, and that the food is pretty good, without being in any danger of expanding your foodie world, and the prices are about right. The temperature was good, and they have the eating soundtrack spot on, with a series of easy listening tunes. Our one major gripe was the inexplicable slow motion service. If you want to try something different, and you're not in a rush, it's worth a visit, but don't expect a pub, think diner.

Atmosphere          8
Service                 4
Food                    7
Value                   7
Verdict                 3.5*