Friday, 15 June 2012

The Old White Bear

Dropped into The Old White Bear after a bracing walk on the Heath, including this spot which spookily reminded me of the lake and abandoned sewer building in the It film:

they all float down here...

This used to be a traditional boozer, but was tarted up as I think, is every old boozer’s fate in this area. Foreign monied incomers MUST feel comfortable in pubs! So now the actual pub area is a tragic little gathering of three tables and some stools sandwiched in between two dining areas. But outside of main dining hours, you can seemingly sit anywhere and the staff were very friendly so it’s not too restaurant-y, like The Freemasons for example. It's the same team behind The Oak in Notting Hill - another pub turned eatery.

I had beef, the king of roasts, and was heartened to ask how I’d like it. It wasn’t actually as medium rare as requested, but was pink enough to be tender. Generous too. At £17.50 it’s really at the peak of what a pub roast should cost, but I did leave debilitated, which is the point I suppose.

The Yorkshire pudding was very dense and heavy, which I enjoyed as sometimes they get too soggy from the gravy. And said gravy certainly would normally disintegrate any other yorkie – it was incredibly watery and lacked flavour. Although it was reddish in hue of which I generally approve (because either red wine or tomato paste are worthy additions) and it also implies it’s not pre-made. Still rubbish sadly.

Roasties were good – oval shaped so not too gargantuan. Veggies were parsnips and carrots only, nothing green which I think detracts from the perception of a proper Sunday roast plate. Some green beans or broccoli would give the impression of a more complete plate. And perhaps might have made it feel less stodgy.

My dining companion had the veggie mezze or similar; quite a meagre dish when contrasted with the roast, yet punchy at about £10. It was over very quickly, and quite oily throughout.

The wine list was impressive, and plenty by the glass although they're served in 125ml and 175ml so watch out for the 'large' pricing. 

I’d return to try the regular menu as it did have few intriguing things on there. I also liked the warm, fresh bread selection which was served with room temperature, seemingly house-made butter. So extra points there, and for good service. But weak gravy from a lofty kitchen is a cardinal sin on a Sunday, and for £17.50, quite a let-down. 

Food – 7/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 8/10
Value – 7/10
Tap water tales – 7/10
Staff Hotness – 6/10

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