Sunday, 12 December 2010

PIZZA EXPRESS, Hemel Hempstead

Pizza Express,
5a Riverside
Hemel Hempstead
Herts, HP1 1BT

Ok, so this is a chain and you get the same menu wherever you go in the country AND we have been to this particular Pizza Express umpteen times (mainly due to the vouchers they issue - 1 main meal free, dine for £12 etc). BUT those facts do not detract from the fact that this place is worthy of a write up.

The parking areas seemed a bit busy so we were worried the restaurant would be full to overflowing, but we were able to have a choice of table from 3 available. The guy who served us left us with the menus long enough to allow us to browse and decide on drinks, before coming back to take our drinks order. These were delivered promptly.

Another suitable interval to allow a good browse through their menu and he took our food order.... we always seem to go for the same thing (so predictable huh?) and one day, I am sure, we will be adventurous.

The food arrived, piping hot (Jeeze that tomato sauce is VERY hot!), really fresh out of the oven and it went down very well. The guy who served us did a "status check" asking if everything was OK before retreating once again to leave us to our meal.

The Beeb splashed out on a pudding - Banoffee Pie with cream which Minty "creamed" aswell (as in she dug her little finger into the cream topping!).

So overall, a very pleasant experience. Actually we have never had a bad experience at this Pizza Express. Tonight, the noise level was lower than normal (the price you pay for having a solid floor which reverberates the noise, which means everyone speaks louder and then you hit the vicious circle....).

Will we come here again? For sure.. as long as Pizza Express keep churning out their promotional offers, we'll be there!!!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

THE ROYAL OAK, Farnham Common

The Royal Oak
Beaconsfield Road
Farnham Common

After a short stroll around Burnham Beeches, we picked the Chef & Brewer Pub, The Royal Oak for a spot of lunch.

One large section at the far end of the pub was closed off, so straight away, space was limited and we had to wait around 10 minutes for some diners to finish their meals and leave before we could even get a seat.
This was obviously an "eating" pub and not a place to just pop in for a pint as everyone was ordering food.

Once we had settled in at a table by the window, it was not long before our food arrived. The starters were fine - light and small portions which didn't risk our main appetite. The main course was quite disappointing. The Beeb's Butterbean & Vegetable Pie and Minty's Traditional Steak & Ale Pie were served in bowls. Now this may make it easier for the pub chain to sling in an oven and dish out as individual portions, but the shape of the dish was nonsense to eat the content with a knife & fork. Especially for Minty's dish, the steak came as a whole chunk of meat and was near on impossible to cut through in a round bowl! A soup spoon would have been a better option for The Beeb's pie.
Also the menu advertised the Steak and Ale pie as served with seasonal vegetables, mashed potato and a jug of gravy. They got only the first part of that description right, the veg was there, but the pie was served with chips, not mash, and the gravy was just poured over (no jug), the veg and (horror of horrors) the chips too!  Chips and gravy might be a delicacy in the North, but Minty does't like this combination. (Southern snob!)

Food aside, the staff were fine - very pleasant and attentive. The loos smelled lovely but the taps stick which means they don't shut off automatically like they are supposed to, leaving running water most of the time.

We don't think we'll go back to this particular Chef & Brewer.

Monday, 30 August 2010

BOTTLE & GLASS PUB, Gibraltar Village

Bottle & Glass Pub
Gibraltar Village
Near Aylesbury
HP17 8TY

An almost sunny Bank Holiday Monday and we headed off up the A41 in search of a quiet little pub to have lunch in. And we found the Bottle & Glass Pub, rebuilt in 2007 following a fire.
We got a couple of drinks at the bar, and immediately we felt we would enjoy our time here - the guys behind the bar were friendly and the service was quick.

We chose a table by the window in the main bar area (just the other side of the wall was the more formal eating part with tables already laid) which had a bucket of serviettes & knives and forks. The menu offered a good variety, including 3 veggie choices among the mains, so The Beeb was happy and opted for the Wild Mushroom Ravioli with chips on the side. Minty chose the Spinach and Beef Lasagne.

We didn't have to wait long, before the dishes were placed in front of us.  The food was nice and hot when served and we tucked in, polishing off everything. Minty's lasagne was one of the best pub lasagnes she's tasted - it was obviously cooked in a single serving dish but unlike other pubs, the chef here had taken the trouble to take it out of that dish and place it on the plate alongside a nice salad (with red onion) with a tangy dressing and a chucky piece of garlic bread. The Beeb's Raviloi went down very well, and the chips were home cut chunky chips which had been blanched so that they were lovely and soft on the inside, yet still crispy on the outside.

The only downside was the apparently lack of running water from the sinks in the ladies loos, so unable to wash your hands!

Food - top notch
Service - can't complain
General Atmosphere - good