Pork Loin @ Castle Inn, Hurst 08/03/2015

I had a month off drinking recently.  In fact, a month off every kind of intoxicant that you can think of, paracetamol, caffeine – everything.

What has this got to do with roast dinners, I hear you ask.  I’m not entirely sure either.

But there is always a risk after a big night out that there is an inability to achieve the one and only goal of the day, especially after a 15 hour session.

This week though, I had extra incentive as I had the company of my favourite Polish plumber, Tarquin (otherwise known as Ben).  And he was driving.  Which was lucky as the random number generator had picked a pub out in the countryside that would have meant using a bus and a 30 minute walk from the nearest bus stop, which I don’t think my fragile state could have handled.

Actually it wasn’t entirely random.  It was skewed as unbeknown to me I had listed it twice on my to-do list.  But rules are there to be broken, as I may not have said to my mother when the police charged me, aged 13, with trespassing on railway lines.  Kids, if you are reading, don’t go on railway lines.  Gravy is much more fun.

So without further ado, I bring you a roast dinner review of the Castle Inn, in Hurst, brought to you in association with Sunflower Plumbing.

The Castle Inn is a traditional country pub, with low ceilings and warm feelings, next to a bowling green.  Roasts are served midday until 4pm – beef and pork were the choices, though the chicken dish was also amendable into a roast dinner.  It was £18.95 for two courses – if I recall correctly it was £13 for just the roast, perhaps £14.

I did try to enquire via their website form however I did not receive a response.  The website only suggested that food was served – no clarification on whether roast dinners were part of the offering.  Though the Christmas menu was still on the website (it isn’t now).  The website wasn’t especially helpful – I probably would have just assumed that it didn’t do roast dinners were I not on a mission to review all roast dinners in the area.  Being a budding web designer I notice poor websites.

Given the previous day and night’s alcohol consumption, my taste buds were not working in particularly good order.  But my companion is not only an excellent plumber, but also an exceptional cook – no roast dinner has ever come close to those that he has cooked for me.

The dinner arrived after around 15-20 minutes.  It was well presented and came with a separate bowl of vegetables to share.

The vegetables were copious and correct.  Decent but nothing special, the carrots were soft and tender, the broccoli with a little more bite.  The green beans though were quite exceptional – quite stringy and on the thin side – Sainsburys basics these were not.  I do not normally come away raving about a vegetable but these really were quite exceptional.

My friend advised that a hint of mustard was included in the cauliflower cheese.  I cannot say that I noticed.  The cauliflower cheese was again generous, and creamy but very little in the way of a cheese taste.

My driver was not too keen on it been on the plate, however I was not concerned.  What did annoy me, and this is just a fractional irritant, was the apple sauce on the plate – I probably should have mentioned when ordering that I didn’t want the apple sauce (which my driver believes was just from a jar) as this inadvertently contaminated the Yorkshire pudding.

Said Yorkie was very large and home-made.  My plumbing adviser believes that it was cooked in beef dripping rather than oil.  Perhaps just a tad too long in the oven as it was a little more on the crispy side than preferred.

Crispy is also the word for the roast potatoes.  Yes, three weeks in a row I have had good roast potatoes.  In fact these were very good.  Probably the best roast potatoes I have reviewed so far.

There were 3 slices of pork loin.  Not quite as generous as the rest of the meal but more than sufficient, and pleasantly succulent slices with a little fat.  I like a little bit of fat.  The cracking was crunchy and edible but nothing special.  Annoyingly it was laid on the apple sauce.

The gravy was good.  Not too strong a taste, not that I could taste anything properly anyway, and a reasonable consistency.  My calling card for extra gravy was met swiftly and sufficiently with a good-sized pot of gravy.  In fact the service was really good throughout, guiding my delicate state through the process and even anticipating my request for the Yorkshire pudding (not on the menu for the pork) without me even having to say anything.  It having been International Women’s Day yesterday, I should also mention that the barmaids/waitresses were pleasingly attractive.

Overall the theme was one of generosity and the rating will match.  The quality was there too, minus a couple of imperfections though it was a shame that I could not fully appreciate the roast dinner in my delicate predicament.

I do fully recommend this roast and give it a rating of 8.1.

Next week’s roast will be somewhere along the Reading to Waterloo train line.  Well, that’s the plan anyway.

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