Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Horse & Jockey, Hipley, 29th October 2015

After September's memorable outing to The Wheatsheaf there was a widespread feeling among Pie Club members that the job is done, we've achieved our objective and found the perfect Pie & Pint combination, so why bother any more? But new member Mike was keen to make an impression so he organised an outing to The Horse & Jockey at Hipley. Nobody had any idea where Hipley is, but it's 6.5 miles away from Bishops Waltham so we went by taxi.  Even after we got there we still had no idea where it is, but Mike explained that it's in the middle of nowhere, halfway between Wickham and Waterlooville. 

It's a very nice pub, run by Dick and Lesley, who were very friendly and welcoming.

There was a good choice of ales: Ringwood Best, Ringwood Fortyniner 4.9%, Brakspear Bitter 3.4%, and Thwaites Lancaster Bomber Ale 4.4%.  We tried all of these and found them all to be very well presented, although we thought perhaps they were a bit too chilled. We queried this with Dick, who explained that the ales were chilled to 12c in the cellar, so that by the time the ale reached the glass it should be a little warmer, and at the right temperature (14c) by the time you're halfway through the pint. So I suppose that means if the ale was too chilled, it was our fault for drinking it too quickly. The Brakspear was particularly good.

We had a choice of pies including a Chicken Leek and Bacon Pie and a Steak & Ale Pie, but Mike had lured us here with the promise of a good old-fashioned Steak & Kidney Pudding with Suet Pastry, and nothing was going to deflect us from that. So we waited patiently for the food to arrive.

When it arrived we were immediately impressed by its size. We had individual puddings, each of which was possibly big enough to feed a family of four. They looked good too, although we weren't sure what to do with the green stuff on top. When we queried this the waitress explained that it was one of our 4-a-day. Fair enough.

The pudding came with mixed vegetables (broccoli, courgette, carrot) and a choice of mashed potatoes, dauphinois potatoes, chips, or new potatoes, all served in separate side dishes, and with extra jugs of gravy for those who needed them. The end result was a real plateful.

The puddings were excellent - stuffed full of tender chunks of steak, but there seemed to be an uneven distribution of kidney between us. Somehow Trev seemed to get all the kidney, and everyone else got very little. No wonder we call him Lucky Trev, among other things. The pastry was also very good, but there seemed to be an awful lot of it, and we needed extra gravy to help it down. In fact the pudding was so large that none of us was able to clear our plate, except for Mike, who is a vegan.

We were all so stuffed that only 2 people wanted any pudding, and we noticed that the puddings were also very large.

So, we had a good satisfying hearty big meal in pleasant surroundings. This is definitely the place to come for a big meal. The Steak & Kidney Puddings were £10.25, and the ales were around £3.80/pint so the prices were reasonable and the quality was very good. The general ambience was pleasant, and the pub was clean throughout, with no unnecessary distractions. It's quite a large pub, with several rooms and we were in a room by ourselves so as to not distract the other diners, which was probably just as well.

Scores for The Horse & Jockey (Max 5 in each category - total 25 overall)

Pastry - 4.36
Filling -  4.56
Beer   -  4.28
Ambience - 4.185
Value  - 4.50
Overall  - 21.88

Now this is a very respectable score, and puts the Horse & Jockey in 3rd place among the pubs that we've visited so far this year. It's no Wheatsheaf, but we'd happily revisit this place (if we can find it again) to try out their other pies. If we do ever go back we'll be sure check online first to see if they have any special offers on. We were a bit miffed to find out later that we could have had a 20% discount off the price of the main meal if we'd quoted a code that was available online.