Friday, March 25, 2011


Its a working mans pub in a working mans district, so this is a pub that provides good solid food and is very popular. We went in on a wet Sunday evening and arrived just before the main crowd.
The wait to be served sign was up and we waited and waited and waited. Eventually I decided to ignore it and followed instructions to place orders at the bar in front of us, where we received a very friendly welcome. I asked for a quiet corner as we’ve been to the hotel before and it can get very crowded. The waitress was only too happy to oblige and allocated us a table right at the back where we did indeed avoid most of the noise and crowd once other patrons flowed in.
The Chef special for the day was a Hickory grilled steak and having really enjoyed the one I had at the Victoria, I was keen to seek the taste of a nice juicy steak again, so that was my choice without hesitation. My wife likes chicken so as they had a special chicken meal at a special price, she settled on that.
The Christies Beach Hotel has an excellent salad and hot food bar. The size of the plates reminded me of a children’s tea set, but none the less you could go to the get as many serves as you wanted. The choice was very good too. Several hot vegetables were on offer, all nicely done and well laid out. The range of cold salad was also very good. In all the amount of food on offer was larger than we have seen at most other venues.
We returned to our nice quiet table with well packed, if tiny, plates. All items were first class and could hold their own in any pub or restaurant in the land. Crispy roast potatoes, or large salad potatoes, it mattered little because the taste was excellent and all were cooked just right. Pasta salad was tasty, coleslaw as good as any you will get anywhere. The best of all to my mind was the seafood salad which was not only tasty but had a generous mix of the seafood as well as a slightly wider than normal range of salad vegetables in it. It was excellent and we were certainly feeling quite good by the time the main dishes arrived.
At that point things changed drastically. The chicken on my wife’s plate was not at all good. Shrunken to the bone and lacking any real meat left to eat. My first thought was that they should have labelled it ‘anorexic’ chicken special. I suppose its possible this was some left over from lunchtime, reheated rather too much and then served as an evening special. If so it must have slipped past the main Chef because I cannot imagine any Chef serving such an abominable meal to a pet, let alone a customer. My wife was obviously very disappointed and I could see that it was little more than some chicken skin shrunken around some bones. If the longest bit was a drumstick then that was one hell of a skinny chicken. The only save for that meal was that the chips were very crisp and tasty, plus of course my wife could return to the salad and hot accompaniments bar to fill up from there.
My steak was medium rare just as ordered. It smelt great and the thick meat had just the right amount of juice oozing from it. Well presented on the plate, but nothing fancy as one would expect at a working men’s pub.
At that point my illusions were somewhat shattered. My first attempt to cut into it was beaten off by the steak, which seemed to suffer little damage from my attempts to cut it and on closer examination I found a huge hunk of gristle and tendon. Working either side of that I managed to cut in and sampled it. Tasty for sure and cooked exactly as ordered. But oh boy I had forgotten to bring my working men’s teeth to this renowned working men’s pub. On one side of the gristle the steak was chewable with some effort. One the other side of the gristle it was chewable only with considerable effort. As I managed to cut it I found long white strands of tendon that I later left displayed right across the plate in the probably vain hope, that when returned to the kitchen someone might spot it and tell Chef that some of his steak was downright tough. But throughout the effort required to cut and chew it that steak did retain its juicy flavour and the taste on each side showed that it had been grilled with care, using a clean grill. Top marks in all areas except the meat itself which was really one of the toughest steaks I have had in many years.
But as with my wife’s dish, there were lots of potato chips and these were delicious in their crispiness and taste. Plenty of them too, which helped fill me up when I had to eventually concede that the steak was winning and give up trying to eat any more of it.
Overall the pub offers a good choice of meals with prices to accommodate everyone from those on a limited budget to those tradesmen flush with cash from an after hours call out to fix a drain. The salad and hot food bar was really good and the service friendly. Lots of staff kept going back and forth to the kitchen and these included some kitchen staff who seemed well kitted out.
So in conclusion we may have been unlucky that night. My wife getting some extremely over cooked chicken and myself getting the toughest steak Chef had at his disposal. But of course one is paying for the meal to be as expected, so that chicken should NEVER have slipped past the view of the Chef, even if kitchen staff had not cared. As for the steak, well the Chef cannot be expected to know if every bit of steak is tender or not, but he and kitchen staff should have been able to see that the pieced served to me was very gristly before it was tossed on the grill, and at least given a tenderizing treatment. A piece of white tendon was hanging out one side and the gristle was very clear to see, so I am rather amazed trained staff did not toss that one aside to be stewed in a curry where it would have done well.

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