The four of us arrived at noon on a Sunday, the time The Duke of York advertise as the beginning of their food service. We were seated promptly in an oddly arranged dining area that I would not want to navigate if I had a mobility problem or in a fire or other emergency. The tables had been placed in what seemed to be the least sensible way, to make a fair-sized dining area feel cramped. There was another, larger party seated in the adjacent section and it seemed we were the only groups in the pub.
We were disappointed to find that the menu had scant and uninspiring vegetarian options, as our party were all looking for meat-free meals. However, we made our selection and three of us chose the same vegetarian main, while one of our party decided on a salad. This was at about 12:15. The server reappeared after taking our orders to the kitchen to tell us that the entree the three of us had ordered was not available. It then transpired that it was simply not ready and we asked how long it would take to *be* ready. We were told 20 minutes, and then the server wobbled a bit and said that it would be perhaps a bit longer because the dish would have to stand after cooking. So, we said we would wait 20 minutes, expecting to wait possibly 30 to allow for the standing time. We did find it pretty frustrating that one of two or three vegetarians entrees was not ready for opening time. The opening time is the same every day, so I cannot imagine what reason there could be not to have food prepared in time.
While we waited our drinks arrived and at least one seemed flat and not strong enough, as if the soda mixing spout at the bar was not functioning properly. We also saw a fellow we took to be the chef walking into the kitchen with a pair of filthy trainers in this hands. I cannot fathom what that was about, but it didn't inspire confidence in hygiene in the kitchen. We also witnessed a party who arrived after us being made to move tables (without any help from staff to carry their drinks, cutlery, etc.) because the staff had seated them at a table that has actually been booked by another party. With only two other covers in the place it is surprising that the staff could have managed to be so scatty. Even though we all make mistakes, the waitstaff's failure to help the party change tables was very poor service indeed.
20 minutes passed without any waitstaff checking in to tell us how the meals were getting on in the kitchen. No offer of a complimentary snack or starter to share was made to apologise for their failure to have food ready from the start of service, which would have gone a long way to making the experience more tolerable. We waited 40 minutes, all the while being ignored by servers, before finally asking where our food was. We were told it was standing in anticipation of being served. We finally received our meals after 1pm, having waited about 50 minutes for what was only a cheese pie which would normally be served almost immediately, as these are usually prepared in advance and sliced, then reheated at the time of serving. When it finally came none of our food really justified the long wait. It was only average, with undercooked onions in the filling. The pastry had a good taste and texture and the chips were rather good, but both they and the pastry suffered from being fairly anemic and undercooked. Astounding considering how long we waited! The vegetables to accompany were desperately overcooked, with broccoli the colour of khaki trousers and the carrots limp and watery. The other party's veg looked to have suffered the same fate. We asked for sauce and were given absurdly paltry portions, not even enough to dip all of our chips. My mother-in-law asked for salad cream (for her salad) and tomato ketchup (for her chips) but only received salad cream and the server was gone before we could ask about the tomato sauce.
The toilets are very basic, obviously walker and camper-friendly. I can accept basic but I would prefer if they were at least clean and smelled it, the toilets flushed properly, and if the door to the toilet area wasn't propped open!
When my father-in-law went to settle the bill he asked if, in light of our wait, we might have a discount. After all, the prices fairly robust for what you get (£8 for their small portion of pie and chips, £12 for the large) and he was told they "couldn't" do that. Of course they meant "wouldn't"! We had been warned of a delay, which was bad enough, but for it to have turned out to be more than twice as long as we were told originally and then not to have been offered any kind of token discount is completely at odds with the idea of the service industry.
I really ought to give the place a single star, but the food itself saved the score a bit because it was passable. However, all things considered, we will never go back. There are other, superior options in the general area. My in-laws were sorely disappointed, as this used to be one of their favourites under the previous owners. I, however, was glad to see the back of it!
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