Friday, 24 June 2011

The Barleycorn Inn, Bishops Waltham, 23rd June 2011

After many unfortunate delays Trev, Nick, Si, and Joe met for the 5th meeting of the Pie Club at The Barleycorn Inn, Bishops Waltham, a fine local pub which we should visit more often. 

Doug failed to turn up for this meeting, offering some excuse about having to go to hospital, so he will of course have to pay the usual forfeit at our next meeting. 

Trev and Joe arrived early at 11.30 in order to take advantage of the happy hour, which runs from 11:00 to 12:00 every weekday. Simon arrived at 11:58, just in time to buy the 2nd round of Ringwood Best 3.8%. at the reduced price of £2.50/pt (normal price £3.20). We all agreed that this was a fine pint of beer, and stuck with it for the remainder of the session (other beers available were Old Speckled Hen 4.5% and Greene King IPA 3.6% ), although unfortunately the barman Sean was quick to point out to us that we weren't able to buy beers in advance at the reduced price for consumption after 12:00, and once the clock turned 12:00 we had to pay full price. Despite this, we were very impressed by Sean, who continued to give good service at all times.

Nick joined us at 12:30. After a 3rd pint we ordered the pie. There was only one pie available, but it had been especially prepared for us that day after a request from Joe. It was a minced beef with stilton pie, made with suet pastry:

It was served with (frozen) peas and chips (or mashed potatoes) and gravy, to make a fine looking plateful:

The food was brought to our table by the excellent Sean, and it was piping hot. Inexplicably, the pie was garnished with a sprig of parsley: Most of us didn't know what to do with this - Si was the only one to eat his (He was brought up to eat whatever is put in front of him).

A number of comments were made about the pie:
  1. The suet pastry was lovely, but it was a controversial choice.  
  2. The filling was lovely, but the use of minced beef instead of chunky meat was another controversial choice.
  3. The taste of the Stilton was barely discernable.
Despite this, we all thought that the pie was delicious, so perhaps we were just being a bit too traditionalist. We need to keep an open mind about such things. The vegetables were fine, and the gravy was very tasty. The servings was more than ample in size.

There was a huge array of puddings available. The ever-excellent Sean even brought us a supplementary pudding menu to consider. Despite being full of pie, we couldn't resist them.

Trev had flaked chocolate cookies with ice cream:

Nick had Hot Whisky & Marmalade Sponge with Custard:

Joe had cheese & biscuits:

Si had good old Spotted Dick with Custard, inexplicably garnished with a sprig of mint (which he didn't eat):

The puddings were all very large and delicious.

The ambience of the pub was very good:our hosts Marie and Pete came and chatted with us, which is always a nice touch; the pub was busy but not too crowded; Sean the barman gave excellent service; the table service was good; the pub was clean; and there were no unnecessary distractions such as music or fruit machines. We especially liked the Happy Hour. We didn't get an itemised bill. but the puddings were around £4 each, and the pies were around £8 each We felt that was very good value for money.

Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):

  • Pastry 4.375
  • Filling 3.75
  • Beer 4.125
  • Ambience 4.25
  • Value 3.875
  • Overall 20.375
So The Barleycorn leaps into 2nd place in our rankings, just behind the Bowman. Well done Marie, Pete and Sean.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Speculation about Pie Man's identity

Pie Man's true identity has to remain a closely guarded secret in  order to protect him from possible corruption by over-eager pub landladies, some of whom will stop at nothing to secure improved ratings for their pies.