Leg Of Lamb @ The Green Man, Hurst 17/05/2015

Leg Of Lamb @ The Green Man, Hurst 17/05/2015

I would like to start off with an apology to my UKIP readers.

I decided that I would take an immigrant to dinner on Sunday, to try to impress her enough to want to stay here for the rest of her life.

Firstly we went to Slough for a walk around, to show her the cultured side of the Thames Valley.  There was perhaps not as much to see as I expected, and apart from a Wetherspoons and a really dodgy pub named after the factory in The Office, there was nowhere to eat a roast dinner – plus Slough is perhaps slightly too far out for my readership.

So we headed back west, and after some careful research, I selected a place in the country – which had the magic g-word on the menu.

Plus it was somewhere highly recommended by a good friend last week.

Hidden in the countryside and rather on the quiet side, The Green Man in Hurst had plenty of olde-England charm, with modern touches, and it served food from midday until 9pm which was helpful given that we didn’t know how long we were going to be in Slough for (not long, you may not be surprised to read).

The options were beef, pork, chicken and leg of lamb, along with a nut roast.  Will I ever try a vegetarian roast?


We both went for the lamb, and chose medium-rare.  I’m not massively funny when it comes to roasts, except for wanting gravy instead of jus, but there is one vegetable that really disturbs me and that is the pea.

Those that have followed me for some time, and those that are my real-life friends, will understand that I do have a phobia of peas, and in particular their lack of discipline.  So I asked for an explanation as to what their “mixed vegetables” were, the waitress was uncertain but would ensure that there were no peas.

I counted six fucking peas on my plate.  Sorry to use the f-word but I could not have made it more clear how much they disturb me without disturbing the waitress when ordering.  As I was accompanied by a young lady, I had to look manly and battle to overcome my fear, so I stringently searched my whole plate for any further little critters before placing them in the empty glass on my table.

Panic over, my heart-rate subsided and I felt able to start my dinner, after yet another quick safety check under all of the food for any more pesky peas.

It wasn’t the most generous portion ever.  But it was priced at a lean £12.50.

Yes I ate the sugar snap peas.  They don’t have a lack of discipline.  They were rather on the sweet side – different but would much have preferred mange tout.  I don’t actually mind the taste of peas.

There was also some sprouting broccoli, which was surprisingly tasteless and on the floppy side.  A wasted opportunity.

The baby carrots were excellent.  Perfectly cooked, with enough crunch but yet still tender, this scattering of carrots was very impressive.

Also on the impressive side were…drumroll…the roast potatoes.  Only 3, of course, but sizable efforts and just about as close to perfection that I have come across.  So crispy on the outside, yet so fluffy on the inside, and cooked in goose fat.  Oh yes oh yes.  So, so good.

However, the lamb gets more of a slow clap than a drum roll.  I’m not quite sure why my dining partner received fresh-looking nearly medium-rare lamb, whilst I had dry medium-well done lamb, despite both ordering medium-rare.

Had it been the soft, succulent lamb I was hoping for, then I’m sure it would have had a much higher rating.  Sadly it was disappointing.  I did want to give a good rating to this place, given the look and feel it had, and that it wasn’t overly busy so perhaps all 8 readers would be inspired.  The community-minded Tory in me wants to share the knowledge of lesser-known venues that do a really good job.

There was, at least, plenty of lamb.  Unlike the Yorkshire pudding which just simply didn’t exist.  Us northerners have Yorkshire puddings with any meat.  I even had one with fish once.

The gravy tasted like gravy but it was exceptionally thin and almost jus-like.  Almost.  Certainly on taste, it gets the thumbs up.

I’m going to give the roast dinner a 6.5 out of 10.

Don’t worry UKIP readers, this wasn’t good enough to persuade my immigrant friend to stay forever.  Likewise, I’m not about to emigrate in horror either.

There were clearly some highly commendable parts such as the roast potatoes and carrots.  But had I turned up 30 minutes later, I suspect that I may have struck lamb-gold, and instead I was stuck with lamb-coal.

Not sure if I will get time for a roast this Sunday as it is the last day of the football season and I’m going clubbing in London straight after so I might not fit it in.

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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.


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

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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