A Tale of Two Pubs

My boyfriend lives in Bishops Waltham and there are a lot of nice pubs in and around the area that we enjoy visiting. We recently went to two in the space of a couple of weeks so I thought I should feature them on the blog in case anyone is thinking of gracing them with their presence – they are both independent pubs and its difficult to find information about them online.

First up is the Barleycorn Inn, right in the centre of Bishops Waltham village. We’ve been coming to this pub for years and the food is terrific – delicious, huge portions and very reasonably priced. They change the menu all the time so you never really know what will be on offer until you arrive!

This particular visit was a Friday lunchtime on a very rare weekday off for us – we’d been to Disneyland Paris all week and got back late the night before. After a lovely lie-in we sorted ourselves out and walked down to the Barleycorn for a well needed glass of wine (it was a very stressful return journey, we may have missed the Eurostar…) and some lunch. The pub was really quiet and although the weather was pleasant, it was still early March and we opted to sit inside the cosy, dimly lit restaurant area. We ordered drinks and then sat back to peruse the ever-changing menu with the help of the very friendly landlord who pointed out veggie options for Ben.

Ben opted for the vegetarian bean burger which he’s had before and loved, but unfortunately they were all out that day! It was no problem though and he quickly chose another meal, a cheese and pickle sandwich and chips. A boy of simple pleasures! However, there was a fair amount of other meat-free options – sandwiches, jacket potatoes etc and a couple on the specials board, had he changed his mind. I was tempted myself by the caramalised onion and brie tart but opted instead for one of my favourites, the bacon and cheese ‘Barley’ burger with crinkle cut fries.

The burgers here are all homemade and freshly cooked and you can really taste the difference! The bacon ‘Barley’ comes with a generous portion of crispy bacon, cheddar, onion rings, red onion and BBQ sauce piled on top, with a HUGE side of fries and salad. So much food! And all for the bargain price of £7.95!

Ben was very pleased with his cheddar and pickle sandwich which again was VERY generous with the cheese! It came with a large side salad and tortilla chips and he also opted for the homemade chips – big, fat seasoned wedges, perfectly cooked.

The Barleycorn has a wide selection of desserts that we are rarely man enough to sample due to the marvellously obscene portion sizes. The sticky toffee pudding though, is the best, a proper British stick-to-your-ribs dessert.

We would really recommend the Barleycorn if you are visiting Bishops Waltham – it’s a lovely independent pub with great food and reasonable prices and, more importantly, a huge, fabulous beer garden! Perfect for sharing a jug of Pimms in on a hot (okay, warm) British summer day.

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Our next pub is the Robin Hood in Durley. It was a gorgeous freakishly warm March day and we decided to walk even though the pub is situated on a main road. Luckily the traffic was pretty quiet as it was a Sunday and we actually had a very pleasant walk.

We arrived about 2.30 and were relived to see that they serve food all day on Sundays, as we had thought we may be too late for lunch. We peeked round into the garden to check if there was space and luckily there were a few free tables so we headed into the bar area to order drinks. Drinks weren’t overly cheap with a pound odd change from a tenner for a glass of rose and a Stowford press. We perused the two extensive specials boards which each had 10 or 12 mains and starters on, lovingly etched in colourful pastel chalk. I was quite taken with the idea of the butternut squash and sage risotto with blue cheese crouton, but it sounded rather heavy and dinner-like and I was forced to achnoledge that a. I was very unfortunately on a diet and b. this was only lunch. We grabbed our drinks and headed outside, asking a passing waitress to bring us a menu on the way.

Perched on a wooden picnic table with a welcome umbrella shading us from the sun, we decided on our lunches, placed our order and relaxed while we waited. The Robin Hood does have a really lovely beer garden with a huge grassy field area at the back and a nice wooden decking area at the front. There are plenty of chairs and tables and we noticed that lots of people were coming in just for a drink, rather than lunch, thus vacating their tables quickly.

Our food arrived within about 10 minutes which we thought was really good considering how busy they seemed. We both ordered the roasted red pepper, olive and mozzarella ciabatta.

Now I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the contents of the ciabatta. Sparse was the word. There were lots of lovely fat olives but only one strip of roasted pepper in each sandwich and a scant amount of mozz (although it looks adequately filled in the photo, all the topping was on the edges!) There was also no sauce or dressing or anything – I felt a good strong pesto would have carried the filling a lot further. It was enjoyable though and not unreasonable for the price (£5.95) with a lovely side salad dressed with honey and mustard. We were very restrained and managed not to order a side bowl of chips although we were relieved when we saw that the ‘chips’ were in fact thin, floppy McDonalds-style fries!

Overall though, this is a lovely pub and the beer garden is the real star. Perhaps the quality of our food was down to the busyness of the pub – there was a 50th birthday party going on inside plus large groups of families all ordering lunch. I would like to go back one evening to sample the dinner options – my mind is still on that risotto!

Morgan Christmas Dinner 2011

This is just a fun little post, I wanted to show you what we had for our Christmas dinner this year 🙂 I’m very strict in my Christmas traditions, it has to be the same every year. Exactly the same! I still live at home but my brother has moved out and he comes home every Christmas and we all spend the day together. We don’t have anyone else over; just the core four!  We open all our presents in the morning and then sit down for lunch about 1pm…by which time we’ve all had a drink or 4 and feeling generally quite jolly.

This was this years beautiful table setting, expertly laid by my Mum to include party poppers, placenames, candles and crackers.

Our starter is always the same, cooked and assembled by Head Chef AKA Dad. We have beautiful smoked salmon and king prawns over lettuce, with a lovely zingy lime and chilli dressing and crispy bacon bits on top. This years dressing was a bit of an experiment as my Dad said he’d added quite a bit more chilli than usual. As we were eating, he tentatively asked for our opinions. I personally was a big fan, the chilli gave the whole dish a great kick but my Mum and brother were not quite as sure. We’ll have to see what becomes of the dressing in 2012!

After a pleasant break in which we received our first “table present” (a tradition carried on from our childhood which cheered us up immensely remembering that after all our main presents were opened we would still have these to come) the various dishes which made up the main event started appearing on the table.

Stuffing balls and sausages wrapped in bacon (a must have for any Christmas dinner!)

Perfectly roasted potatoes and parsnips.

Homemade bread and cranberry sauces!

Carrots and Brussel sprouts…not my favourite but unfortunately a vital component of Christmas lunch. I forced down a couple…well maybe only one…half.

My plate, laden with meat, awaiting the onslaught of accompaniments!

And here, in all it’s glory, is my finished plate. We actually got new plates this year which was quite exciting, lovely big white ones which eliminate the age-old problem of overcrowding. Unfortunately my eyes were slightly bigger than my belly and as much as I tried, I was only able to eat about 3/4. Still a pretty good effort I think but very difficult to come to terms with at the time. My favourites were the gorgeous roast potatoes and my Mums homemade cranberry sauce.

I was so stuffed that I couldn’t even contemplate dessert, opting instead for a couple of soothing glasses of delicious, creamy Baileys. A perfect ending to a perfect lunch and another successful Morgan Family Christmas!

Leftovers Sandwich (or create the leftovers, if necessary, I won’t tell)

One of my favourite foods in the whole world is the humble sandwich. I often take sandwiches to work for lunch but I am not a fan of ‘boring’ sandwiches – cheese, cheese and ham, pickle, egg mayo etc…I like to make my sandwiches worth my while and they tend to be really quite special. If I take a boring sandwich to work I am often so uninspired by it by the time 1pm rolls around that I naughtily buy soup or crisps to accompany it, thus negating the whole point of bringing my own healthy lunch and saving money.

So, I spruce my sandwiches up and spend the whole morning eagerly anticipating the moment the clock reads 13.00 and I can fling open the fridge and devour my lovingly prepared meal. In my Hello Kitty bento box too of course. Wrapped in foil, not clingfilm, I have a funny thing about clingfilm. It just doesn’t look as nice.

One of my all-time top sandwich fillings is one that only presents itself to me a few times a year. When I look in the fridge and realise I have all the components available, the angels are surely smiling down at me. It is of course, the Leftovers Sandwich. Yep, it needs capitals. This particular sammie is rarely found during the spring and summer months, preferring really to lay low until the winter creeps in, the 25th of December to be exact. If you’re lucky you may stumble across this sandwich in it’s wild and unorganised form following a Sunday roast which was rather overcatered for.

This particular sandwich presented itself to me one day in late November when I was, very unusually for me, off work with a headache and cold. As I stared into the depths of the fridge, willing a lunch to form, I spotted the key components of cold turkey, brie and cranberry sauce. Almost daring not to breathe, I glanced over to the counter silently praying…yep, tiger bread. Lets do this.

First things first, we needed some carbs up in this sammie. What do you mean bread is a carb? Get out. Although we had no leftover roasties (extremely rare in my household) we did have a few new potatoes in the fridge, which to be honest looked to be on the way out so I turned the oven on and got to work slicing. Slug of olive oil, salt and pepper, they went in the oven for about 20 minutes. I sliced the bread, big old thick slices, go hard or go home. Into the toaster it goes.

Once toasted, I spread the bread with cranberry sauce and layered on a couple of slices of lovely creamy brie. Brie + cranberry sauce = The Christmas Dream. I then placed a couple of slices of turkey on the bottom slice of bread and waited very impatiently for my potatoes to be done.

After what felt like DAYS they were perfect, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I had of course cooked enough for a family of four so I saved half for a leftover-leftovers sandwich the next day, bonus! I layed the potatoes on the turkey and topped the whole thing with some lovely leaves for a bit of greenery and texture. The top slice of bread was placed carefully on top and I then pressed down on the sandwich slightly to try and encourage some kind of stickage to make for easy lifting. A swift slice down the middle and the Leftovers Sandwich was complete.

 

 

 

I very bravely ate the entire thing but felt very ill afterwards and had to lie down for an hour before I felt recovered enough to tackle the washing up. Very big lunch and I must stress this is not normally what I take for a Tuesday at work! I was off sick and Leftover Sandwiches are incredibly healing. I strongly recommend trying this sammie, really got me in the mood for Christmas!