The Castle Inn absolutely looks the part with a bright, inviting bar area that achieves a nice blend of traditional and modern. Unfortunately, things did not start well for us when they were unable to find a record of our booking. There was another booking for a table for 5 - for someone called Janet - but there was nothing or no-one to confirm whether this was ours and as we didn't have a Janet (nor does my name sound like Janet!) the table went a-begging. Top tip - take a contact phone number or make sure you get the name right. Thankfully, there was room in the Inn and, after re-locating from next to to the Gents, we settled into our meal.
The 2 starters we had were OK. The Black Pudding was excellent, well presented and tasty. The Pigeon Brest with Chorizo was less successful; the pigeon was tough and the chorizo just a couple of wafer thin slices that failed to impart any of its usual warm spiciness to the rest of the plate. A little disappointing overall.
The mains were very good - soft, succulent Pork Shoulder; excellent Rissoto; a well presented Chicken and Bacon salad; a really tasty Steak Pie; and a very good portion of Haddock and Chips. The vegetable medley is worth a mention - a well cooked, well presented combo of carrot batons, peas and Savoy cabbage that brought colour, flavour and texture to the plates. Balancing this out, however, one has to observe that the fish batter, whilst adequately crisp was a little anaemic which when placed alongside the over-size, slightly pale chunky chips was a little off-putting.
The staff were very friendly if slightly distant - their main focus was clearly on the very busy (full) main eating area (Bistro) - but one felt that they were rather going through the motions - we had 2 checks within seconds of each other to see if everything was all right with our meals but our drinks and water jug ran dry without offer of refill.
It was, however, a busy night - Saturday after Valentine's Day - and the Special menu did look very good.
Friends speak very highly of the Castle Inn, which I know to be very popular locally, so maybe we caught them on a bit of a bad night; I'd certainly be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and would go back to give it another try. With some excellent local competition, however, it is the small margins that make the difference.
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