January is a time when many Pie Club members head for warmer climes, or colder climes in some cases, so a reduced number of us (7) gathered by the bus stop in Bishops Waltham Square and amused ourselves by studying the bus timetable and trying to work out if it was the X9 or the X10 that we needed to catch. We couldn't work it out so we got on the X9 when it arrived, and managed to arrive at our destination without too much trouble.
The first thing we noticed as we walked in was the selection of beers available:
The Old Speckled Hen was a bit too strong for most of us, and the Dark Side was a Stout (not to everyone's taste) so must of us stuck with the Railway Inn's Ale (3.9%, brewed by Greene King) and found it to be very acceptable. Tall Paul had Guinness as usual, and reported that that was also very acceptable.
Pie of the Day was Steak & Mushroom, served with chips or mash, and mixed vegetables (cabbage and frozen peas), with gravy pre-applied (not the way we like it).
The pie was very good, though not exceptional. It was packed with tender, well cooked steak, and the pastry was to our liking, though with a bit of a soggy bottom. The chips were home-made and nicely cooked, as were the vegetables. The gravy was very tasty, and the very nice waitress gave us some extra gravy in jugs, just the way we like it.
Service was good, and the very nice waitress brought us drinks at the table, which we always appreciate. Nobody (not even Stephen) had any pudding, so the meal must have been very satisfying. This is a nice clean comfortable pub. There was a wood-burning stove blazing away near the entrance, which gave a good cozy feel to the place. It's a big pub, with several seating areas inside, including one with a pool table and a large-screen TV, and we imagine that it can get a bit loud, crowded and noisy in the evenings, but it was fine for us on a mid-week lunchtime. There was loud background music on when we arrived, but they turned it off when we asked, so that's alright.
The beer was £3.60/pint, and the pies were £11 each, so value for money was not bad at all.
Scores for The Railway Inn (Max 5 in each category - total 25 overall)
Pastry - 4.17
Filling - 4.21
Beer - 4.43
Ambience - 4.30
Value - 4.54
Overall - 21.65
Now this is a very respectable score, and puts the Railway Inn in 1st place among the pubs that we've visited so far this year, which is only to be expected as this is the first pub we've visited this year.