40 minutes is a good length for a walk as it allows you to build up a good appetite and thirst without getting too exhausted. Just as people were starting to wonder "Are we nearly there yet?" we saw the welcoming sign.
This being a Greene King pub the "Robin Hood Ale" turned out to be a Greene King ale, possibly Greene King IPA 3.8%, but we're not sure. On sampling it we found that it was very acceptable. The other ales available were Hogs Back T.E.A. 4.2% and Sadler's Worcester Sorcerer 4.3%. In due course we tried both of these and found them both to be very acceptable as well.
As we were quenching our thirst we had a good look at the menus on display in the bar area and noticed that they were very tempting, featuring an extensive choice of mouth-watering dishes, but we were not going to allow ourselves to be distracted from the pie, which was soon brought to our table.
It was a twice-cooked Wild Boar Pie, served with mixed vegetables and a scoop of Mustard Mash, and it looked delicious, so we wasted no time in tucking in.
We were presented with portions of pie cut from a single large pie, which must have been very large if it was to satisfy 10 hungry men. Generally we prefer portions of pie cut from a single large pie rather than individual pies because it means that the ratio of filling to pastry is higher, but it does mean that unless the chef is very skilled some people get bigger portions than others, and some people get corner portions with more pastry, and some people get mid-side portions with less pastry. However, we were all too hungry to care about any of this, so we all got what we were given, and got on with it.
We were unanimous in agreeing that the filling was near perfect, containing just the right balance of lean tender meat and a juicy and very tasty gravy. We noted that we hadn't been provided with any additional gravy in jugs on the side, so a slight demerit here, but we didn't really need any, and no doubt some would have been provided if we had asked. We were provided with some extra mustard when we asked for it.
Unfortunately the filling was let down by the pastry, which was a puff pastry. Now, we are broad-minded about such things and we were prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it had gone soggy at the bottom, and (compared with the best short crust pastry) it was tasteless.
The vegetables were cooked nicely, and the Mustard Mash was delicious - it was a perfect accompaniment to the pie.
We all managed to clear our plates without any difficulty, although some people didn't eat all of their mash, presumably because they wanted to leave room for some pudding, for which there was a good choice.
The puddings looked delicious, and those who had them reported that they tasted very good as well, and we could see tat the portions were large.
The beers ranged in price from £3.60/pint to £3.90/pint and the pies were £11.95, so this is not a place to come for a cheap meal, but the puddings were quite reasonably priced, and the quality of the food was top notch (it is just a shame about that pastry). We liked the pub very much: It's clean and nicely furnished, with a couple of very comfortable leather sofas near the bar where we were able to relax before contemplating the long walk home. The service wasn't quite up to scratch though - even though the place was not very busy we had to go to the bar to order each new round of drinks (we know it is not usually done this way, but we have got used to the bar staff taking our drinks orders at the table), and we had to wait a long long time for the puddings to be brought to the table after we'd ordered them.
Scores (max. 5 in each category, 25 overall):
- Pastry 3.00
- Filling 4.44
- Beer 4.28
- Ambience 3.90
- Value for money 3.96
- Total 19.58
All in all this was a very pleasant experience and provided ample justification for the good reputation that the Robin Hood has locally, but it was spoiled by the pastry, which just wasn't to our taste. So the final score means that this pub leaps into 4th place in our rankings of pubs visited so far this year, not far below The George & Falcon, which we visited last month.