Monday, 31 October 2011

The Farmers Home, Durley, 27th October 2011

We had planned to use our bus passes on the No.7 bus to Durley then walk the last half mile to the The Farmers Home, but it was raining, and Doug's wife offered us a lift as it was on her way to somewhere or other, so, despite our avowed intentions of being self-sufficient and not dependent on our good ladies to any extent,  we took her up on her kind offer.

Unfortunately, Joe had to drop out of this Pie Club meeting, so it was Trev, Nick, Doug and Si who trudged through the rain all the way from the car parked on the streeet outside, into the pub, to be welcomed by a friendly barmaid and shown straight to our table.

First impressions were good. There was a nice friendly welcome, a cosy looking pub with not too many customers, and a choice of Steak & Mushroom Pie (£7.95), Creamy Chicken & Bacon Pie (£7.95), or Steak & Kidney Pudding (£8.95) on the menu. But we noticed straight away that the choice of ales was limited to Ringwood Best 3.8% or Gales HSB 4.8%, which was a bit disappointing, and maybe a warning of things to come.

Expecting a long session ahead, we decided to steer clear of the HSB. We settled down with pints of Ringwood Best while we considered the difficult matter of choosing our pies from the menu. This was complicated by the fact that there was a special deal available whereby you could have two courses for £8.95 if you chose your main course from the lunch menu (which included the two pies, but excluded the Steak & Kidney Pudding, as that was on the Specials menu). In the end, Trev and Nick both chose the Creamy Chicken & Bacon Pie, and Doug and Si opted for the Steak & Kidney Pudding.

We had barely started our second pints when the food arrived. Fast service!

The Creamy Chicken & Bacon Pie looked good, despite only having a shortcrust pastry topping instead of being fully enclosed in pastry as it should be, and despite being adorned with a totally-unnecessary sprig of parsley:

The Steak & Kidney Pudding looked good as well, being amply proportioned, but again having a totally-unnecessary large sprig of parsley:

The pies were served with an ample helping of nicely-cooked vegetables comprising mashed swede, brocolli, and carrots:

Doug, Trev and Nick all had a big helping of new potatoes with their meal:

Si thought that this showed dangerous signs of people going for the healthy option, stuck to his principles, and chose to have chips. This resulted in quite a pleasing visual effect:

As we ate our pies it became apparent that all was not well. The food was alright, but not great. The shortcrust pie pastry and the suet pudding pastry were both disappointing. The Steak & Kidney Pudding filling was thin, with not a lot of meat, and what meat there was was finely chopped instead of being chunky. But the main problem was that the beer was not going down very well. It was settling heavily in the stomach and putting us off our food. By the end of the second pint most of us had had enough, although some of us did manage a third pint. The beer was certainly too cold, which may explain the problem. We couldn't even manage any puddings.

The general ambience of the pub was initially quite good, but as time went by the place filled up with more and more  people (mostly pensioners, probably drawn there by the special offer), and it got quite noisy. We quite like not having to share a pub with too many other customers.

So we ended up having quite a short session. We had intended to get the No.7 bus back again, but it's an hourly service and we'd just missed a bus, and it was coming on to rain again, so (despite our reservations) Nick persuaded his good wife to pick us up and give us all a lift home. She's very kind.

Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):
  • Pastry 3.25
  • Filling 3.375
  • Beer 2.925
  • Ambience 2.875
  • Value 3.875
  • Overall 16.3
This puts The Farmers Home in 6th place (out of 7) in our rankings. The only pub worse than this was The White Horse, Beeches Hill (which has since had a change of landlord).

The next Pie Club meeting will be on 24th November. Trev to decide the venue.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Ship Inn, Kingswear, 8th October 2011

Whilst taking a well-earned short break in Devon, Simon had a good meal at The Ship Inn, Kingswear.

To make a change from fish (almost compulsory in this part of the world) Simon opted for the Cow Pie (this being the first time he had come across a Cow Pie on a menu anywhere). It was a great pie, let down by the puff pastry topping, as can be seen below:

The filling was perfect: 1" cubes of tender lean beef in a delicious gravy with nothing extraneous added, and lots of it! The accompanying vegetables were fresh perfectly cooked. The chips were hand-cut and cooked perfectly. The accompanying ales were excellent: there was a choice of 5, including the ever-tempting Otter Amber Ale 4%, which was nicely served at the correct temperature. The pub landlord, Colin,  and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. The general ambience was very good.  Value for money was fair, with the beer weighing in at only £2.80/pint.

But the whole thing was let down by the puff pastry topping. It wasn't even good puff pastry. It was dry and tasteless and stuck to the roof of your mouth. It was like eating a dry cream cracker, only not as tasty.

To make up for the disappointment of the first course, Simon had another pint, and some pudding - very good fruit crumble with custard:

After the meal Simon remonstrated with Colin about the poor quality of the pastry. The landlord was very apologetic, and explained that they'd tried using proper short-crust pastry but there were too many problems with it. Apparently it's something to do with the re-heating. To which Simon's only reply was "Huh!".

PS Simon was accompanied on this trip by his good wife Jean, who had Whole Plaice and Chips, which she said was excellent.

PPS On this same trip Simon visited The Cherub Inn in Dartmouth with Jean:

It's a fine pub, but when Simon asked "What's the Pie of the Day?" the answer was "Fish Pie". Enough said.

Please note that Simon visited the pub without any other members of the Club, so opinions expressed above are purely personal and not representative of the Club.