Once again most of us decided to work up a bit of an appetite by walking the 2.5 miles to Upham. It's a nice walk, or would be if there weren't so many HGVs thundering past on the main road. By the time we arrived at the pub we were, as usual, gasping for a pint, and we were presented with a good choice.
There was the ubiquitous Ringwood Best 4.0%, the very pleasant Ringwood Boondoggle 4.2%, and the respectable Ringwood 49er 4.9%, all of which we have sampled many times before. And there was Cracklerock Crackerjack 3.8% from a new brewery just down the road in Botley, which proved to be Crackerjack! They also had Guinness on draught, and my learned friend Tall Paul reported that it was very pleasant. We were pleased to see that the beer prices hadn't gone up since last time, and once again we were impressed by the quality of the beer.
For the pies we were offered a choice of 4: Steak & Ale, Steak & Kidney, Steak & Stilton, or Chicken & Ham, all supplied by the estimable Upham Pie Company just up the road. This time we noticed an interesting development that the pies were available in two sizes, medium (at £7.95) or large (at £10.95). Naturally, as we had had the medium last time we chose the large this time. The pies came with vegetables and a choice of mashed or chipped potatoes, and gravy was served separately in a jug on the side, just as we like it, but disappointingly there was just one type of gravy available for all the different types of pie.
The pies were certainly large and very tasty. In fact they were so large that several of us left some of the pastry. The fillings were all very good, packed with tender meat and with just the right amount of tasty sauce. Interestingly, the filling scored significantly higher this time. The pastry was good too, but there was just too much of it for some of us, although needless to say, the Vegan was the first to clear his plate again and he didn't leave any pastry. Interestingly, our scores for the pastry were lower than last time - this is probably no reflection on the quality of the pastry (which was short crust just as we like it) but rather more determined by the quantity.
And (respect to this man!) the Vegan was the only one of us who felt able to have any pudding - apparently the Chocolate Brownee was very good.
In all other respects the pub was very much as it was last time we visited. It's still a very pleasant pub, but we noticed this time that there weren't so many other customers there, which is a shame because pubs like this deserve support. Once they've gone they're gone, and we'll miss them!
Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall):
- Pastry 4.13
- Filling 4.48
- Beer 4.44
- Ambience 4.38
- Value 4.43
- Overall 21.87 (was 20.96 last time)