Unfortunately I chose the Black Horse at Clyst Honiton as the ideal place to celebrate my birthday last week and booked for 9 of us to eat there. It was not a new experience for us, most of us had eaten and enjoyed the food and the ambiance of the place many times before. Apparently it is under new "management" and I use the word loosely. Gone was the lovely lady that greeted us so warmly before and we were "looked after" by a pleasant enough young girl who perhaps needs some guidance in customer relations. My sister ordered a glass of wine which was clearly corked so complained, was given another which was much the same. Trust me, I tasted it and it was like vinegar. Somehow she was made to feel like she was being difficult.
The menus have changed and are now cheap looking laminates similar to those in a Wetherspoons, but without the cheap prices. That gave us a clue that things had changed. I had the whitebait and calamari for starters. It was what it was....frozen, breaded whitebait and similar but battered calamari - ok but nothing to write home about. The main course was truly vile. I had the "slow roasted" belly pork with caramalised apple, brocolli and a fondant potato in a cider sauce. Well, apart from the sauce there was practically nothing on this plate that was pleasant to eat! I noticed the absence of any apple on the plate and asked the waitress, who checked with the chef and told us it was "in the sauce" I think not, there was no sign of it no matter how hard we looked....hmmm we were fobbed off! The brocolli had just been shown the water and was practically raw, the fondant was soggy and as for the pork............omg! The meat was like rubber layered with fat - when you slow roast, the fat renders down into the pork and tenderises the meat. Dont know how they managed to make this so disgusting - two big slabs of chewy fatty meat that had then been fried to make the outside crispy (aka impossible to chew), no crackling, but then that wasn't advertised (and would have been "in the sauce" I suspect, had we commented) I really tried to enjoy it but realised after struggling to swallow the last piece of my first hunk of "meat" that I couldn't fact tackling the second bit. I had given up on the brocolli way earlier.
When the waitress collected our plates I felt the need to complain and asked her to point out my observations to the chef. She said she was sorry I felt like that - end of! No apology, no management/chef/anybody came to see if they could make amends. We weren't looking for a freebie or money off and paid the bill - exactly, to the penny with no tip thank you! Looking back perhaps we should have refused to pay, but hey, like most Brits I don't realy like to complain.
If the new management are actually bothered, I hope they read this and previous recent comments by the looks of things. The pub is out of the way and needs recommendations to keep going, they are only getting poor reviews from our party for sure.
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