Monday, 30 April 2018

The Bugle, Botley, 26th April 2018

We had previously visited the Bugle a few years ago but as it is now under new management we felt it was time for another visit so we set off on the short bus journey from Bishops Waltham.

On arrival we received a warm welcome and were pleased to find a good choice of 4 real ales available.

The beers on offer were: Hooky from Hook Norton Brewery - 3.5%, Otter Ale from the Otter Brewery in Devon - 4.5%, Cheriton Pots Goodens Gold - 4.8% and Fullers/Gales HSB - 4.8%. Except for our Guinness drinking friend we all opted for the Hooky which was indeed a very good flavoured session beer. All the beers tried over the lunch-time were all very well kept.

The pub has homemade, individual shortcrust pastry pies on it's main menu but as there was a group of us they had prepared 2 larger Beef and Guinness pies to divide between the seven of us. Each pie was enough to feed 4 hungry pie eaters so there was a portion over to fight over - in fact it was skilfully divided up between the seven of us.

The pies were delivered in style by our host and boy did they look good!

They were served with a good selection of fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes with, of course, the essential jugs of gravy on the side. Everyone agreed the pie was delicious with shortcrust pastry on bottom, sides and top. There was a generous filling of succulent beef and you could even taste the Guinness.

The pies were duly demolished and we paused for more beer while we considered the puddings. A few of us were very tempted by the cheeseboard for 2, a selection of local Lyburn cheeses, which came with a glass of wine each followed by a glass of port, which was priced at a very reasonable £20. However, our host had kindly prepared a homemade lemon meringue pie, which was enough to feed all of us, and it was indeed excellent.

Feeling well satisfied after an excellent lunch we decided to stay on for an extra beer to help the digestion before catching the bus back to Bishops Waltham.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)

  • Pastry          4.89
  • Filling         4.90
  • Beer            4.70
  • Ambience   4.67
  • Value          4.58
  • Total         23.74
This puts The Bugle in 2nd place overall so far this year by the smallest of margins - 0.05! Many thanks to everyone at The Bugle for an excellent lunch and great hospitality.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Black Dog, Waltham Chase, 29th March 2018

We previously visited the Black Dog in March 2016 and as it has previously won the prestigious Pie Club Pub of the Year award so we felt it was due another visit. So on an extremely wet and cold March day we headed off on the short bus journey to Waltham Chase to meet the others who had been chauffeur driven!

On arrival it was too wet to get a photo of the pub but once inside we were greeted by 4 real ales on handpump.

The beers on offer were: Greene King IPA - 3.6%, Black Dog Bitter - 3.9%, Westerham Brewery British Bulldog - 4.1% and Abbot Ale - 5%. All the beers tasted were in fine condition as was the Guinness.

The pie on offer was a homemade Ox-Cheek braised in Beer. Being homemade it had been made in one large dish which caused a bit of banter amongst the group as to who should get the corner portions and the extra pastry. Those of us on a health kick of course opted for portions from the side!

The portions were very generous and were accompanied by a good selection of vegetables, chips, horseradish mash and of course separate jugs of gravy on the side.

There was a nice touch of French Bread on the table when we arrived which would have been useful for mopping up the gravy had it not all been devoured before the pies arrived!

The pie was indeed very good with lots of succulent filling and a good shortcrust pastry. Our only criticism was that it was rather over salted which meant we had to order more beer!

Some of us still had room for puddings of which there were a fine selection, see below (the puddings are on the blackboards.......).

So, after a very enjoyable lunch we headed back into the torrential rain for the short trip back to Bishops Waltham.

Scores (max of 5 in each category, 25 overall)
  • Pastry        4.34
  • Filling       4.35
  • Beer          4.56
  • Ambience 4.39
  • Value        4.70 
  • Overall   22.34
This score was an improvement of a score of 22.31 recorded at the March 2016 visit so congratulations to everyone at the Black Dog and thank you for an excellent lunch.