Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Wheatsheaf, Shedfield, 25th January 2017

As a gesture of remembrance for our recently-departed friend Joe, we decided that this month's outing should be yet another visit to our (and Joe's) favourite pub of all time, The Wheatsheaf Inn at Shedfield, midway between Botley and Wickham, and conveniently on the 69 bus route.  We have, of course, been here many times before: Our first visit was in 2012, quickly followed by a 2nd visit in 2013 (when we presented them with a well-deserved "Pie of the Year" award), and for our AGMs in 2013 and 2014, and another formal evaluation in 2015. Although their pies have long been highly revered in our memories, it was time for a formal re-evaluation, as we know from bitter experience that things can change over the years. All the same, it was with great expectations that we approached the pub this time.

Some of us, in the throes of a new-year fitness binge, decided to walk the 3.1 miles from Bishops Waltham, and did quite well, completing the distance in 50 minutes. There's nothing like the prospect of a great pie and pint to spur us on! Our more sedate members took the 69 bus.

So quickly did we complete the walk that we arrived at the pub before opening time, so for a while there was the pathetic sight of several very tired and thirsty Pie Club members waiting outside the door with tongues hanging out.After a few minutes the landlord Tim took pity on us and let us in. We found that he was in the final stages of an interior refit, with an extension to the dining area.

The results make the interior look much smarter, but Pie Club members are renown for their conservative views regarding pub interiors. The changes gave us plenty to talk about, and we doubt if Joe would approve of them.  One thing that hasn't changed is the quality and price of the beers, which remain as good as ever.

We were also relieved to see that Sally had done another brilliant job in preparing the Steak & Kidney pie, which was also up to her usual very high standard. The pie had been prepared for 10 people, but luckily for us (and sadly for Doug), one of us had to drop out of this trip at the last minute, leaving 9 of us to cope with this magnificent pie.

The only problem was in dividing this pie up into 9 equal portions, and there were the usual squabbles about some people getting bigger pieces than others. But generally speaking, Stephen did quite a good job of taking over Joe's traditional role in cutting up the pie.

The pie was served with generous quantities of vegetables and new potatoes. 

Gravy was served separately, in jugs on the side, just the way we like it, and the end result was an excellent meal.  

Scores for The Wheatsheaf Inn (Max 5 in each category - total 25 overall):

Pastry - 4.65
Filling -  4.5
Beer   -  4.85
Ambience - 4.0
Value  - 4.8

Overall  - 21.89

Although this score is lower than in previous visits (perhaps a reflection of our more discerning judgement), this still remains, in our view, as near as you can get to the perfect Pie and Pint.  Once again The Wheatsheaf leaps straight in at number one in our tables.