Pork @ The Ostrich Inn, Colnbrook 25/10/2015

Boo!

I’m back to haunt you with my weekly roast dinner reviews. I’ve missed writing about them. I’m not sure I’ve missed eating them – the soulless ones anyway. Two of you have even missed reading them. Do feel free to share, retweet – invite your friends – it would be witchy wonderful.

Yes, I’ve risen back from the grave…y.

If that didn’t make you laugh then you must be a vampire.

You may be asking why I’m reviewing somewhere near Slough. Don’t scream – there is a point. I appreciate that it is actually closer to London than Reading, but this is not just hocus pocus. Have you worked out the theme yet?

You must be braindead if you haven’t because, yes it’s Halloween, that most ghastly of celebrations that I despise almost as much as Valentine’s Day (although that I do enjoy somewhat now I have a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Margaret Thatcher in my bedroom). I really don’t understand why people celebrate Halloween more than St George’s Day, for example, or VE Day…or my birthday.

I didn’t think that it would be difficult to find a pub that claimed to be haunted but I was alarmingly wrong. Apparently the nearest haunted pub is The Ostrich in Colnbrook. Near Heathrow. Near Slough. Now that is scary.

It’s actually the 3rd oldest inn in England. This was replicated by the quite magnificent wooden beams and ceilings – and then obliterated with this most tacky 1990’s bar that wouldn’t look out of place in any cheap town centre bar in Chelmsford.

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One assumes that the ghouls interfered with the construction plans.

Onto the roast and the menu had beef, chicken and pork – the chicken was not available, and not having a clue as to whether the roast would be deadly or delightful, I went for the safer choice of pork. The beef was priced at £13.50, the others at £12.50.

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15 minutes later and the ghoulish barmaid brought our impressive looking dinners for us to slavishly gnaw away at. Ghoulish as she was wearing white make-up with very dark blood-red lipstick. I’m not being evil.

There were actually 5 different types of vegetables. Starting with the least impressive – the scary orange slime which I assume was swede puree though perhaps it was pumpkin puree – having never eaten pumpkin I cannot be sure.

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Then we had a mixed vegetable medley – surprisingly it being my Halloween roast there were no sneaky evil peas. The baby carrots still had their skins on and were a delight, the two smallish pieces of broccoli were on the soft side but perfectly pleasant, and the green beans were again just a touch on the soft side – none of the squeakiness you can get from being lesser-cooked. Clearly everyone has their own preferences on how little or how much you cook vegetables – but for me this was perfect.

Then we had cauliflower cheese. The cauliflower was again soft and tender, the cream had infected the whole cauliflower and there was a crispy and cheesy texture that had melted to the top of the florets – yes they actually managed cauliflower cheese that tasted of cheese. A supernatural effort.

It was all going devilishly well, but would the roast potatoes have been made by the witch or the wizard? Startlingly, they were proper roast potatoes. 4 of them – all on the large side, all fluffy on the inside and impressively crispy on the outside.

The only slight let-down is that they had clearly been warmed up but there isn’t really much they can do about that given how long it takes to do roast potatoes properly and that the pub serves dinner from midday to 9pm. But I don’t want to be critical as these were some of the best roasties all year.

Sadly the Yorkshire pudding did let it down as it was somewhat gruesome. Actually it wasn’t that bad but it was kind of overblown and overcooked.

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For the meat, two reasonably thick slices of pork belly were supplied. Although for one of the slices, I could tell it was cooked some time ago as it was just slightly dry, but this trick did not detract from the quality and the tenderness of the meat – with the highlighted treat being the crispy shell and the small ring of succulent pork belly fat underneath.

Like a vampire’s desire for blood, I of course asked for extra gravy. Especially given that the menu promised proper gravy. It was one of the thickest gravies I have had the pleasure to experience for some time, a meat stock effort with a fairly strong, substantial taste to it. It did overpower a tad but again, a minor infraction.

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I really enjoyed not only the experience, but the roast too. Not only a return to reviewing, but a return to form too. Never be afraid to venture out of the cauldron.

I’m going to give it a spooky 7.8 out of 10.

Next week I’ll be nearer to Reading – I promise! It might even be another really good roast. Two in a row – that would be frightening.

And hopefully with less eye-rolling from you. Sorry.

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