Beef @ The Royal Stag, Datchet 10/04/2016

This is for you.

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Yes, it is a toilet. But not just any toilet. It is a toilet in the Houses Of Parliament. I took this photograph especially for you, my dear readers.

Sadly they don’t seem to do roast dinners but they do offer excellent tours.

Speaking of toilets, I went to Datchet for the first time ever on Sunday. Actually it isn’t a toilet but they do seem to have an obsession with weddings, with two wedding dress shops, one formal clothing shop for men and a cake shop which seemed to specialise in wedding cakes, all on my 2 minute walk from the train station to The Royal Stag. And weddings are crap. Although the last time I was forced to go to a wedding, we were served a roast dinner. Yes, it was in Hull.

The Royal Stag was recommended to me so I was expecting a good roast dinner. Despite it being some years after the invention of the telegraph, there was no website – when I called (second time around as the first time they hung up and when I dialled back I just received the engaged tone – the kind of thing I do at work when I don’t want to speak to customers), they advised that they do roast dinners until roughly 7pm, however they also added that the roast dinners often run out, so I reserved a beef.

When I arrived at 4pm, the roast dinners had indeed run out – but mine was happily awaiting my arrival – hopefully not literally sat there waiting.

The other choices available were chicken, pork and lamb – all priced between £10.95 and £13.95.

Having initially been directed to the wrong table, I had a cosy table for one in a corner. I like corners, especially at after-parties. Nothing quite like sitting in a corner and inhaling nitrous oxide. Or gravy. The pub itself was quite cosy, though in places probably could do with a little care and attention. It seemed like a pub for locals – and I suspected that they had good reasons for repeated visits.

Dinner took somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes to arrive.

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A vegetable medley was supplied, with green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, chanteys carrots and mange tout.

There wasn’t enough of each of them to make it worthy of a sentence for each – just one lump of cauliflower and broccoli for example – all were on the crunchy side but not too much so and all had taste. If you like your chocolate on a biscuit vegetables crunchy, you’d be impressed.

The Chantilly carrots still had their skin on to give them that edge – and the inclusion of 6 mange tout (yes I counted) provided a bonus fraction of a point as mange tout put all other beans to shame.

Totally unsurprisingly there were 3 roast potatoes, though they were large – you could even call them very large. And they were fluffy on the inside. Totally unsurprisingly you couldn’t call them crispy on the outside – they did have a touch of having been laid around for a while but not disastrously so. I was at least content with them.

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I was more than content with the Yorkshire pudding which was close to perfection. The size of a babies face to quote my recommender (whom I randomly bumped into outside), it was soft on the bottom, yet held the gravy without going soggy and had crispy edges. Hats off to the chef for one of the best yorkies for some time.

For the beef there were two 2mm slices – folded to make it look like there was more than there actually was. You may have noticed an almost complete lack of complaints, for my standards anyway, but for £13.95 I’d expect at least a third slice of beef – it did seem a tad stingy.

Thankfully the beef was very nice, quite pink so on the medium-rare shelf, and particularly juicy too.

And guess what else happened? I received thick gravy. Well – not as thick as cement, as I prefer, but thick gravy as more normal people would enjoy. There was a very slight hint of something about it, perhaps red wine, I’m not entirely sure, but a good THICK meat-stock gravy. I was happy.

But. Oh yeah there’s a but. Quite a big but too – bigger than mine after all the roast dinners I’ve had. Now, I asked for extra gravy. I probably could have survived without as there was just about enough on the plate, but I’m northern and we like our food to be swimming in gravy. In fact, I dream of a swimming pool of gravy. Can you swim in gravy?

More was forthcoming but when I received the bill at the end I’d been charged £1 for what to a northerner is a basic human right. At no point had I been advised of this.

It does have to be taken into context of what was good gravy on a good roast dinner. But it stops me giving them an 8 out of 10 – an 8 probably being harder to achieve than a Michelin Star and they were so close.

Butt I enjoyed my visit. It was a very good roast. The Yorkshire pudding was my favourite part – the lowlights are relatively minor gripes, particularly just two slices of beef.

I’m going to give it a 7.9 out of 10. If you go and I hope that you do, don’t forget to order in advance if you want to guarantee a roast! Oh yeah – it’s a Macclesfield on the Yorkshire-Surrey scale.

I considered staying for dessert, but no dessert menu was offered to me – maybe they didn’t proffer any sweets. But I suspect that like their lack of website, they are simply missing their opportunities.

I enjoyed my visit, so hopefully this review will raise awareness of a good little pub.

Next Sunday I’m going up in the world. In theory it should be the best roast dinner I’ve ever had. In practice it may just be some overpriced poncey crap with jus.

By the way, I do think myself more suitable for the House Of Lords than the House Of Commons. Lord Gravy of Bracknell. I am normal.

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