Lamb @ The Jolly Farmer, Hurst 22/03/2015

Lamb @ The Jolly Farmer, Hurst 22/03/2015

The random number generator picked The Jolly Farmer this week.  It’s a Greene King pub just down the road from one of the better roasts I’ve reviewed at the Castle Inn, and on the edge of Dinton Pastures.  Also dog-friendly.

I did say that I was going to go somewhere good this week, but I had a quick glance on their website and found the following poster:

It didn’t inspire me with confidence.  Nor did their 2010-style website.

But with prices from £7.50 (or £7.95 as the website confusingly states) and a two-figure sum in my bank account, I was not going to over-rule the random number generator.

A quick note of thanks to my followers – last week’s review reached the highest total of readers so far at 262 and counting.  If you enjoy my reviews, it would be appreciated if you could share, like, invite your friends, retweet – whatever your thing.  Consider it the oxygen that feeds my enthusiasm.  Or perhaps your duty to spare your fellow humans from  abominations such as last Sunday.

I called first to book, it was an awful phone line and I could only just about understand the person on the other end.  We would not have been seated at the peak time of 1pm but they did suggest seeing as it was a lovely day that we could sit outside.  Forgive me for having lived down south too long but 10’C is not an appropriate outdoor dining temperature.  They do have a nice, large outdoor area though, which would be pleasant in the summer.

I shall set the scene.  We arrived to, an unremarkable-looking pub.  Several people shouting at the football on the television screens – thankfully no television screens in the dining area.  The staff looked on the harried side to begin, with a touch of confusion over who was serving our drinks and showing us to our table once those in front of us had been served.  Some of the clientele, were, how do I put it…matching the price of the food on offer.  Not all, but there was a definite chavvy element within.

There, I have said it.  Last week I offended the feminists, this week I have offended the lower classes of society.  But I am actually a man of the people.  A bit like Ed Miliband.

Yeah…

Anyway, before I go off on one about that tosspot and offend all of my Labour-voting readers.  We were hurriedly given the options still available – chicken or lamb.  I do find it hard to choose anything else when lamb is on offer.

Dinner arrived after a 10-15 minute wait.  It was reasonably well-presented – judging from looks it was clearly not going to be claiming a top-3 spot, neither was it going to be as bad as last week.  A bit like going on a blind date, and being relieved that your date isn’t three times your size, but equally isn’t a stunner either.

The carrots were those baby carrot things, I quite enjoyed them.  They had a bit of crunch to them and still had their outer skin on, which I like.  And they tasted of carrots.  My accomplice, however, said some of them tasted of anus.  I do not have the requisite experience to judge on this comment, I simply thought it tasted of carrot.

The broccoli on the other hand seemed rather anaemic, weathered and tasteless.

I couldn’t work out if we were served with cauliflower or cauliflower cheese.  Two of the pieces of cauliflower suggested not, but the other piece had some kind of orange crust on it.  I couldn’t taste any cheese either but that seems to be a pattern.

There were 4 roast potatoes of varying sizes.  Some large, some small.  And they were an unspectacularly decent gathering of roast potatoes.  Fluffy on the inside, with an element of crispiness on the outside – perhaps more solid than crispy.  Not bad at all.

Apparently the lamb was a lamb shank.  I am not sure why you would be served lamb shank with no evidence of the bone.  It didn’t seem like lamb shank to me.  It was a little more cooked than ideal and fairly tasteless.  A fair proportion with a small side-serving of mint sauce, which normally I would forgo but was useful to add a touch of taste.

My accomplice’s lamb did come with added string.

One solitary and fairly small Yorkshire pudding accompanied the dinner – clearly something mass-produced and popped in the oven for 4 minutes.  On a level with an Aunt Bessie’s offering.  Acceptable.

The gravy summed up the whole meal – unspectacular but decent.  The consistency was thick enough for a southerner and it tasted like gravy without doing anything weird to it.  There was hardly any on the plate but a full gravy boat was forthcoming upon request.

The service did improve – whilst at first it seemed we were a little in the way, it was friendly and courteous enough once they had calmed down – with the older gentleman (possibly Italian?) full of charisma which is always good to see.  Friendly enough for me to forget my bank balance and order the cheesecake for dessert.

It is a rating I have had to think about.  Very unspectacular.  But decent enough.  Better than expectations given the off-putting photograph on the website.  And especially for the price – £8.95 is the cheapest roast so far.  So it was good value.  I have to take into account that it was nearly half the price of the very, very good Castle Inn.

I shall give it a very unspectacular but decent 6.1 out of 10.

Next week’s venue will depend on my bank balance.  I have enough coins in my coin jar to afford The World Turned Upside Down.  Possibly time to stick my hand down the back of the sofa.

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