OK, none of your new-fangled gastropub nonsense here. This is a proper pub that happens to serve good food. Half of the building is given over to drinkers who might want to eat nothing more than a black pudding & cheese toastie, or a packet of pork scratchings. Diners are accommodated in the other half, furnished in “rural bistro” style – they call this end of the building the “cowshed” – and are well served by a menu comprising sandwiches, “light bites” (mercifully, no mention of these being “lite”), and a decent array of starters and main courses. The latter supplemented by a specials board, adding another half dozen or so choices.
There’s something of a commitment to provenance. The pub classic of gammon, egg and chips is there – and the gammon is Gloucester Old Spot. There’s steak and ale pie with the ale coming from literally down the road in Brimstage. And because this is a proper pub, there’s a generosity in portion control. Or, more accurately, lack of apparent portion control. This is definitely a place where the greedy can be well fed.
A pork terrine looked and tasted as though it had been made there, rather than in some nondescript factory. It really was good. A little bowl of chutney added a sweet/sharp contrast and there was a big hunk of bread.
My own starter had the same bread toasted as its base. A layer of onion marmalade was topped with sautéed flat mushrooms, themselves topped with melted Stilton. Alongside a big handful of well dressed salad leaves – watercress, mizuna and the like. This was a dish of main course proportions and it was lovely.
For a main, I went off the specials board. Four pigeon breasts, cooked perfectly at medium rare, a sauté of mixed veg and potato and a rich gamey sauce, sweetened (but not overly) by the inclusion of a few blackberries. I think this is one of the most enjoyable “get stuck in” plates of food in a goodly while.
Across the table, the less greedy half of the partnership had ordered from the “light bites” – a salad of bacon, black pudding and roasted cherry tomatoes is usually served with a poached egg but herself does not do eggs. The lack of the egg might have made muted the dish somewhat but I had a taste and reassured myself that the mustardy dressing served it well on its own. Other than that, this was a fine salad with bold flavours.