Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Black Dog, Waltham Chase, 27th November 2014

Having been turned away by one of our local pubs, we felt the need to go somewhere where we would be rather more welcome so for our November outing we returned to The Black Dog, our third visit to this very popular pub in Waltham Chase. Our first visit to this pub (in July 2011) was okay but we felt that there was some room for improvement. When we visited again in October 2012, soon after the current landlord (Peter) had taken over, we found that it was much better, so this time we wanted to see if Peter had continued to improve the place as he said he would.

Several of our members are still on a bit of a health kick, so they built up a bit of an appetite and a thirst by walking the 2 or 3 miles to the pub. On arrival they were given a warm welcome by our hosts, Peter & Kathy, and offered a good choice of ales, some of which were new to us:

There was Black Dog Ale 3.8%  from a mystery brewery in Trent, Brains' Reverend James 4.5%, and York Brewery's Guzzler 3.6%, as well as Green King IPA. The Black Dog Ale was a smooth dark ale, very drinkable, but after a long walk several of us preferred the Guzzler, which was a light hoppy ale. Both beers were in very good condition and served well.

Now, for the main business of the day, the pie, we were in for a special treat! The chef had prepared for us something which we had never experienced before - A Sausage, Bacon & Black Pudding Pie! A few of us expressed some doubts about the wisdom of eating such a thing, but when the pies were served up we all agreed Who Dares Wins!

We couldn't help noticing that it was covered in green stuff, but despite that it was a superb looking pie and we couldn't wait to get stuck in. It was served with mixed vegetables and a choice of chips or mashed potatoes, with extra gravy served separately in a jug, just how we like it.

After we had finished loading up our plates with the vegetables and potatoes, the meal looked excellent, and we could barely restrain ourselves (so we didn't).

The pie filling was delicious - moist, with slices of sausage which we think we recognised as coming from a local butcher, bacon adding a salty piquancy, and black pudding complementing the whole ensemble.  In fact the filling was so good that when it came to the scoring, a few members awarded it an unprecedented 5/5. The short crust pastry was also very good. A few members suggested that it might have been better if we had been served individual pies rather than slices from a big pie, but the problem with this is that individual pies tend to have a higher ratio of pastry to filling, making the pie rather dry and stodgy. In this case perhaps we could have done with a slightly more pastry, but when the filling is this good, who cares?  The vegetables were all nicely cooked, and all too soon our plates were clear (and we'd even eaten all the green stuff).

Some of us still had room for puddings, so we chose from the pudding menu and found that the puddings were all up to the same high standard as the pie.

We all thought the meal was excellent, and we really appreciated the effort that our hosts, Peter & Kathy, and the chef made for us.  We would have personally congratulated the chef as we were leaving, but he was nowhere to be seen. The pub itself has a very good ambience (although we did notice some background music playing), and the service was very good. The food and beer very reasonably priced, with the beer at around £3.70/pint, and the pies at £9.95, so we felt it was very good value for money. Surprisingly, after such a good lunch, we managed to walk all the way back to Bishops Waltham, and finished up in The Crown, but that is another story. 

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall):
  • Pastry 4.44
  • Filling 4.74
  • Beer 4.43
  • Ambience 4.03
  • Value 4.7
  • Overall 22.34

Congratulations to Peter & Kathy - we can see that you have put a lot of hard work into improving this pub, and your efforts have paid off. Your score puts you straight in at number 1 in our charts, a whole 0.02 points clear of the previous leader, and puts you in a very strong position to scoop the "Pie of the Year" award this year. And please pass on our congratulations to your chef.  

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