It being a pleasant autumnal day we thought that a good walk there and back would help us all to work up a good thirst and a healthy appetite, so off we all went. Joe and Paul E met up at at The Crown (if they had a quick pint there first they're keeping quiet about it) then set off at a brisk pace on the 2.1 mile walk to The Black Dog. Nick & Si set off from their homes at about the same time, saw Joe & Paul a few yards ahead, and struggled to catch up with them as they seemed to be doing some power-walking. Or were they just thirsty? Certainly they seemed to speed up as we got closer to the pub. We all walked straight past The Chase Inn without any hesitation as it seems to be a particularly uninviting pub. We met up with Doug near his home in Swanmore, and met Paul T joined us in the Black Dog.
This is still a very pleasant pub, with large well looked-after gardens, two covered heated gazebos for the smokers, lots of beautiful hanging baskets, and a warm welcome inside from Peter, the new landlord, who has obviously made a considerable effort to improve the place.
This being a Greene King pub, there was, of course, Greene King IPA 3.6% available on tap. Tempted as we were by this fine ale, we couldn't help noticing some other interesting ales on offer. There were two another Greene King ales, Abbott Ale 5%, which we felt was probably a bit strong for a session ale, and Bonkers Conkers IPA 4.1%, a seasonal ale. The guest ale was Everards Equinox 4.2%. The ales were all priced at around £3.40/pint, which is reasonable.
We decided to start by sampling The Equinox and the Bonkers Conkers out in the garden, then, as we were getting a bit peckish, we moved indoors and had another one while we waited patiently for the food to arrive.
As we were waiting, and without any asking, the delightful waitress, Chelsea, brought us a warm baguette with butter for us a share as an appetiser. We thought this was a nice touch. As there was only one pie available on the menu, we all ordered the same food: Steak & Stilton Pie with chips, watercress garnish, and mixed vegetables, at £7.95 each. Again, the price seemed very reasonable. When the food arrived, the pie looked very appetising.
The pastry was a lovely golden short-crust on top, with a thin layer underneath that was perhaps a bit too thin as it had gone a bit soggy, although some people like it that way. There was plenty of filling, with large pieces of lean tender steak, plenty of juice with onions and mushrooms, and a thin layer of Stilton on top. Some of us felt that there could have been more Stilton, but there was just enough to add a subtle extra taste to the filling - any more might have been over-powering. Instead of the usual salad garnish, there was a generous helping of watercress, which was much appreciated: Pie Club members are well-known for their liking of healthy foods, and watercress is certainly good for you.
We were presented with two large platters of assorted freshly-cooked vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, mangetout) and chips. These were ample for the 6 of us, nicely cooked, and tasty. We were also given an extra jug of gravy, just as we like.
We all managed to clear our plates with gusto. The servings were generous, but we felt we still had room for a bit more - maybe it was the walk that did it, or maybe we felt we needed to build up our strength in readiness for the long walk back home, or maybe we were just too easily tempted by the pudding boards:
We chose a selection of puddings, all brought to our table by the delightful Chelsea:
Afterwards, we all felt replete. The bill came to £30 each, which, considering the number of drinks we had, is good value for money.
Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):
- Pastry 3.7
- Filling 4.55
- Beer 4.31
- Ambience 4.15
- Value 4.27
- Overall 20.98
Our congratulations go to Peter, the new landlord. Compared with the scores from our previous visit, these scores show a considerable improvement, and we wish you well in your new venture.
Unlike our previous visit, this time we all managed to walk back home without resorting to public transport. We walked straight past The Chase Inn without any hesitation again, but stumbled at the next hurdle, The Barleycorn. Then some of us went on and stumbled again at The Crown. And then some of us went on and stumbled again at The Bunch of Grapes.