My wife had visited this pub once before for lunch with colleagues, and was impressed with it enough to suggest an evening visit for us to try their dinner menu.
First impressions were favourable, the pub has a large car park and the outside seating areas are very inviting and nicely presented. Some parts are under cover and it offers lots of separate areas so that a bit of intimacy for groups of friends could be enjoyed. It was also nicely illuminated with Christmas lights rather than the usual cold glaring floodlights.
The interior again was inviting, and the pub had that cosy traditional feel and look about it. In keeping with the outside areas, the pub offered about four separate open plan rooms, fanning out from the bar. The decor was nice and had a rustic look about it. The only room that could have benefitted from any changes was the main dining area; it was furnished and carpeted with a compliment of very dated tables and chairs from the 70’s - whereas the other areas benefitted from lots of nice solid farm-house wooden tables and chairs.
Service at the bar was okay, but while there appeared to be about 3 staff front of house, only one was serving at the bar which meant a little wait as it got busy. The bar and waiting staff were youngish, but polite and 'adequately' attentive.
One (nice) alternative dining area (hidden round a corner) was reserved for their Wednesday night poker club, so we had to contend ourselves with the only free tables available which were in the main dining room, with its dated furniture. It’s worth saying that this room was very attractive and rustic however - except for the furniture.
We ordered a drink from the bar and but had to ask for my wife’s red wine to be put into a standard wine glass rather than the champagne flute it arrived it – the young lady behind the bar said that they always used the’ flute’ for small wines ???? A small 125ml red house Merlot cost £2.00 and a large one 250ml was £4.35. They also offered a range of bottles in the £8.50 to £11.50 price range. Not surprisingly for an Arkells pub, the only ales on offer were 3B and Harvest Gold, costing £2.65 and £2.95 respectively.
The menu choice was adequate - but further supplemented by their extensive specials board. Surprisingly, the specials offered similar meals to those on the menu, but at MUCH cheaper prices i.e. 16oz steak and chips for about £9.00 as a special - but £12.00+ on the menu. Although we had our attention drawn to the fact that a specials' board existed in the main dining room, we didn’t notice the one in the bar where the best deals were listed. As a consequence we missed out and ordered from the main menu instead.
The table cutlery arrived wrapped in paper napkins, a salt cellar and a bowl of ketchup sachets – no table mats. The meals themselves arrived quite promptly and my mixed grill was a very hearty serving which I would recommend. My wife’s fish pie however had to be sent back because the fish appeared to be undercooked (it was still opaque) and the whole dish was only lukewarm. The staff apologised and asked if we would like it re-heated, or have a fresh one prepared, or to choose something else. My wife opted for the burger instead. This meant of course that I was half way through my meal before her new meal arrived. Her burger however, was cooked the way she ordered it, and to her liking.
The total cost of our outing for 2 mains, 2 wines and 3 beers was £34.50. We weren’t offered any ‘compensation’ other than not being charged the difference in cost between my wife’s 2 meals – a saving of about £1.00. In conclusion YES I would recommend this pub, it does have a charm about it; the meals are ‘okay’ but look out for the specials before ordering.
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