We turned up on Thursday after they had opened on Tuesday. A friend had heard that they had opened and wanted to give it a go so we decided to do lunch. There were four of us and we booked half an hour before we turned up. When we got there, it was clear that the place was freshly refurbised, some of the clues being the smell of fresh paint and the workmen's bags left hanging around.
When we arrived, there was no clear recognition that we had actually booked. As it happened, it wasn't important as there was plenty of space so we picked our table and sat down. As we did so, three out of four of us had the (fixed) cushions slip off the chairs we were sitting on. Perhaps a little more care would have been required over the finishing touches. After sitting down for a few minutes, it became clear that the table next to us were very loud, so we moved to the front in the conservatory area and were perhaps then off the normal radar of the serving staff.
We were presented with menus with no explanations. While the menus said lunch and featured a range of boards, sandwiches and baskets, it was not made clear whether the selection of 'doorstop dishes' on the blackboard were also available. We asked, and apparently they were all available, as were a selection of 'classics' we had failed to spot on the brief transit through the bar to our table. The dishes on the menu were 'brunch-like' and there to be mixed and matched. But none of this was clear from the menu, nor was it explained to us without further questions.
We eventually decided on a selection of their tapas-style dishes and a couple of good old-fashioned burgers. A burger is, after all, a good benchmark for any decent pub. In the meantime, we asked for one of their bread boards which came with balsamic and rapeseed oil. The bread, which was tasty, turned up in a basket, with no oil or vinegar and didn't seem to correspond to any of the options available on the menu.
When the food arrived, it was disappointing. While the sausages were good (and coming from the local farm shop, there is little to go wrong), a fiver for a couple of sausages cut up on a plate with relish seemed steep. The crackling was deep-fried and bland, the rabbit (I'm told), was 'fine' and the same applied to the sprats.
The burgers were presented nicely, with a skewer of guerkins and pickles and a little pot of very nice coleslaw. Unfortunately, although we had asked for them rare (which they were unable to do) they were at best medium on the inside and char-grilled on the outside. The rolls had also been over-toasted, adding a burnt flavour to the whole dish.
Added to this was the fact that the service was slow virtually without fail, we had to go and chase up drinks and condiments at least twice, if not three times. When asked for our opinions at the end, the waitress apologised and said she was still training some of the other staff, while at the same time acknowledging some of the omissions were her own.
They've only been open a couple of days so I'm happy to give them a break and go back again once they're settled in. Hopefully there will be improvements!
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