As you guys all know by now, I’m never one to turn down free food! One of my friends & colleagues very kindly gave me a heads up and mentioned me on Facebook on a post about a Spring menu launch at a local pub. So, of course, I just had to phone the pub and register my interest 😉 . Sure enough, I was invited to the event with a guest; excited wasn’t the word! The photos of the food on Facebook looked absolutely incredible! My old school friend, Matt, was more than happy to join me.
I hadn’t been to this pub for maybe 15-20 years and I was so surprised at the incredible transformation. As soon as you walk in, you see the big gold brewing barrels; you know this place is serious about beer & ale. Having a microbrewery combined with a full-size pub is such an unusual concept. We walked around to the bar and was warmly welcomed by the barman. I said we’re here for the bloggers event and he said unfortunately there was only one other confirmed guest. It transpired that this guest never arrived which was a shame as I love a bit of networking. We were seated at an optimistically long table!!
Matt and I both loved the decor; it was so well thought out and had a homely, family feel. Easily a place I could spend a lot more time in!! The bench seats had big comfy cushions too. I went for a wander and was impressed by the beer garden. It has cosy beach huts which would be perfect for the unreliable British summer weather. A really nice touch.
Before I went back to the table, I have to go and have a nosey at the bar area. Wowsers, what a fantastic range of beer and ale. I would happily return to sample some of them, especially the ones with the quirky names. Surely it’s nearly time to eat…
We perused the menu. What really struck us were the reasonable prices and the varied menu. There were so many interesting choices (I’ve got my eye on the Ay Chiwawa Chilli Dog for next time). It seemed a fantastic mix of pub classics with a generous selection of really unusual dishes with an international vibe. What we loved about the menu was that every dish had a recommended beer or ale pairing. I’ve never seen this in a pub before. Matt made me realise just how many vegan dishes are on the menu, telling me his girlfriend is vegan. He said she would love it here.
Soon our first lot of food arrived. The presentation was second-to-none and we were given little 1/3 pint glasses of beer and ale to match each dish. My favourite of the three dishes were the soft shell tacos with buttermilk fried chicken and chipotle mayo. It was divine and the ale that accompanied it, Hampton’s Pale, was very bitter but quite nice. Next up, crabcakes. I’m really not a big fan of crab so I didn’t really appreciate the morsel I tried, although Matt enjoyed them, saying they’re soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The beer pairing for the crabcakes, a Belgian style Tongerlo Blond ale, was superb; easily my favourite of the trio. Next up, the rather delectable falafel with a chipotle crema. I love falafel anyway and these ones were possibly the best ones I’ve ever had. They had so much flavour and the chipotle crema complimented them perfectly with a nice bit of heat. All three dishes were so moreish, and we haven’t even got to the main courses yet!!
Both of the mains quickly arrived. They smelt delicious and, as with the starters, the presentation was incredible. Both mains are suitable for vegans. We couldn’t wait to tuck in. Matt and I were blown away by the Sri Lankan vegetable curry which contained cauliflower and squash. The flavours were so zingy and with just the right amount of spice. The coconut flavour really gave it a slight korma vibe. The accompanying coriander rice was so fresh and fluffy too, I couldn’t get enough of it. A very delectable cask ale called ‘Walk The Line” provided a perfect pairing. Matt was so impressed that he said he’d skip the option of adding chicken to the curry.
Matt and I liked the beetroot and thyme risotto but we weren’t overly enamoured. The beetroot flavour dominated the whole dish and it tasted very sweet. It was nice but neither of us would order it in the future. To accompany it was an American style ale called ‘Wild Beer Pogo’. It was very mild in flavour and had a low volume of alcohol at 4.0%. The barman said this was a session beer and it was easy to see why! This was Matt’s favourite drink of the meal. After all that food, we just about had room for pudding…
The Eton Mess was absolutely enormous and, unsurprisingly, so delicious too! It was full of sharp raspberries and raspberry sorbet which perfectly contrasted the cream and meringue. The accompanying drink was an Easter stout which was as black as Guinness and just as strong-flavoured. It tasted quite bittersweet with a burnt tang to it. As yummy as it was, Matt and I agreed we couldn’t manage more than a few sips.
We both had an incredible meal here. The friendly staff, reasonable prices and out-of-this-world food make this place a cut above the average pub. There’s literally something on this menu for everyone; vegans, those wanting comfort food and those looking for an exotic flavour. I love it that they suggest beer and ale pairings for every menu item, it was just a shame that Matt and I could only have a couple of sips of each beer. Being not too far from my home, I can’t wait to return!
Date of visit: 17/04/18
Keith’s rating: 5 out of 5!
Where is it?
47 Highfield Lane
023 8055 5566