Sunday teatime at the “Jolly’s”, and there’s a lively atmosphere in the bar, barely a table to be had, and landlady Annie overseeing proceedings with all the charm and warmth that years and years in that profession brings.
And, apparently, earlier in the afternoon the kitchen had served up 150 meals in three h0urs – now that’s going some. We’d struck gold.
The village pub has had a chequered, now-open, then-closed history over the past decade, but has settled, under its current landlady and staff, to become, again, a hub of the community and surely one of the most popular pub-eating spots in the area.
That’s no surprise. The food is home cooked and reasonable value, the setting is countrified-quaint (beamed ceilings, roaring fire and so on), and the service is spot on. And the portions ... were huge. So much so that – horror of horrors! –we had to forego desserts.
If you’re a big eater then this is the place for you. If, like us, you’re not, well, prepare yourself!
As we settled down at what was the only available table at that side of the pub, the friendly waitress lit up the table’s candle-in-a-mini-birdcage and took our orders.
So hungry were we all at that point that we each ordered starters from a menu that had five options. Mine was large slices/quarters of mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce (extremely creamy, less so garlicky), accompanied by a warm crusty roll.
My wife opted for chicken liver pate, which arrived with a ton of salad garnish and plentiful toast, and my son enjoyed a large prawn cocktail with a ton of salad garnish and plenty of bread.
Steaks and grills feature prominently on the mains menu, with a wide choice of sauces and even a cooking guide, so if, for example, you ordered medium you can’t complain at its pink centre.
Equally tempting were some of the specials offerings – varying from lamb shank and homemade fish pie to liver and onions (too many bad school-dinner memories for that, though!)
I finally chose, from the specials board, the chicken and leek pie. When it arrived there was room on the plate only for the pie itself plus gravy boat – and the plate wasn’t small. It seemed the portion was about a third of a large pie. The chicken pieces were extra-chunky, as was the pastry, and I could barely make a dent in the accompanying hand-cut chips and selection of veg before I seriously began to think that my belt would burst.
The ham on my wife’s Farmhouse Tea (ham and eggs with chips and salad) was, she said, delectable and fell off the fork.
And son, already sated by the starter, chose a “light bite” – cheeseburger that came with an array of chips and salad. Oh, and because he just fancied it, a side of cheesy garlic bread ... with salad. If that was a light bite then a full-size version must surely have made the table splinter and collapse.
We really couldn’t have asked for more. Literally. There was simply no room for puds. And on the way out, spying such delights as Ferrero Rocher Gateau on the desserts board, I resolved to return and have just a tiny main course – if there is such a thing – and, if it’s still there, that gateau.