Eating Around: The Mug House, London Bridge, London

Quintessentially British, The Mug House is a pub restaurant within the popular Davy’s chain that smacks of good old fashioned Englishness from centuries ago whilst also being bang up to date with a gourmet menu of classic dishes. Hidden in the domed alcoves of London Bridge, opposite the tourist-trap of the London Dungeons, this hideaway is a real treasure trove.

Bursting at the seams with character, I adored the atmosphere as soon as I stepped foot in the place. I felt as if I had gone back in time thanks to the classically whitewashed walls, multitude of dark wooden beams clustering the ceiling, and large polished beer barrels acting as quirky drinks tables by the entryway bar area.

Already impressed by The Mug House’s traditional yet polished take on a London ale house, my family and I walked around to the restaurant part of the pub, where we would be enjoying our dinner. Luxury labelled wine bottles sat proudly on each table, white taper candles speared into the makeshift holders and wax decadently dribbling down the side of the bottles. The blush red toned walls were in keeping with the abundance of wooden furniture, while more wine bottles lined shelves along the walls. Due to its location, natural sunlight is a no go; however the candlelight and numerous wall fixture lights maintained a lovely ambience under the rounded ceilings, creating an intimate and cosy vibe. Blackboards listed specials for both food and drink options, adding to the traditional feel of the place. Having a soft spot for this style of décor that has a nod to times gone by meant that my first impressions were gleeful to say the least. Now all that was left was to see whether the food and drink matched the opening standards set by this impressively presented pub.

We ordered the house red to share with our meal and very nice it was too. A deep blood red in colour, it was surprisingly fruity and medium weighted, making it very easy to drink throughout our meal. To start, my husband Dan and I shared, opting for the lemon and herb flavoured hummus, which was served with sliced up and grilled flatbreads. As hummus fans in general, it was great to get such a citrus and fresh twist on a classic, with the lemon adding a vibrant zing to the luxuriously thick and smooth dipping sauce. The flatbread was soft to bite yet held its shape when dunking and catching the hummus, which as we all know, is of vital importance. It was easily enough for one person, but the portion size was still generous enough to accommodate two so that we could have a graze before our main meal to whet the appetite.

For my main course, I decided to have a ploughman’s. I thoroughly enjoy a good British ploughman’s; however they very rarely feature on restaurant menus, despite being a pub classic in my mind. The Mug House’s version however had certainly been given the gastro pub makeover as it was a classy and sophisticated offering, presented on a round wooden cheeseboard. The slices of ham were cut generously thick, the meat both lean and light. Two long triangles of yellow cheddar came up next, balanced on top of each other, while a small pile of salad leaves acted as a bed for a black pudding scotch egg. A recent convert to black pudding, this scotch egg was dreamy. The egg was soft boiled so had that wonderfully opulent gooey and oozy centre that pools everywhere with each bite. The crust of the egg was perfectly cooked for crunch factor, while the black pudding element really enhanced the flavoursome meat within to give a richer and deeper taste. Armed with four decent sized triangles of chargrilled white bread, I tucked in with gusto, making sure to sample the caramelised onion chutney and sunset orange relish that sat in small white ramekins next to my little butter dish. Every component was simple, yet simply delicious, and I could tell the ingredients were of a high quality. Pairing the separate elements together is part of the fun of a ploughman’s, so I wrapped salad in my ham before dunking it in relish, piled the bread with cheese and chutney. Fun food at its finest.

Dessert also left me a happy bunny as I chose the traditional sticky toffee pudding for my afters. Served with a large jug of wonderful custard, there was even enough for me to drench my pudding just how I like it. The sauce had a fiery whiskey kick that was great soaked up into the caramel toned cake, with the dessert being moist, soft and full of flavour all round.

All in all, I was very impressed with The Mug House. Granted we went at a quiet time for our family meal; 5.30pm on a Saturday, so it was a lot quieter and more peaceful than I imagine it would be later on in the evening. I really loved both the décor and the atmosphere, and it presented the perfect environment for us to have a tasty family catch up. Due to its location, it is going to be more costly all round, however the quality of our meals is testament that it was worth every penny, and I would certainly eat there again.

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Homeward Bound: Beefeater Liberty Bell, Romford, Essex

The Liberty Bell has always been a reliable source of British pub grub, a mere 15 minute walk from my flat, making it an ideal date night location where both my husband and I can enjoy a few drinks yet still get home with ease. Partnered with Romford’s Premier Inn, the gastro pub used to be part of the Table Table chain, yet a recent renovation has seen it transform into a Beefeater. Although I know the differences are probably quite subtle and more nuanced – after all, it still serves British pub fodder – I was still keen to see what they had done to the place.

As you walk in, the most striking difference is the new décor. Beefeater have really overhauled and updated the interior to give the restaurant a really open feel, featuring plenty of large rectangular and circular tables, large mustard or coffee coloured leather sofa style seating, and quirky red or brown upholstered dining chairs. Wood panelling provides a barn-like vibe. Fun cow-related sayings perch on the walls, as well as other themed art, such as a multi-coloured cow cut out labelling the relevant joints of meat. It’s a light, bright space, and it has a really fun and casual atmosphere; perfect for kicking back after a long week at work. The nooks and grannies that previously hid seating when Table Table was in management have all disappeared, and Beefeater has embraced a much more homely yet classy vibe.

My husband and I were sat on an end table by the wall, providing an element of privacy. I nabbed the dining chair as Dan slid onto the mustard sofa opposite me, behind our wooden, square table. As he ordered a berry flavoured cider, I checked out the wine menu. I decided to try something a little different – my usual favourites are also naturally the most expensive on most menus, so I was trying to be savvy too! One of the cheaper white wines, it was pale in colour and vaguely fruity. It didn’t pack the fruity punch I was expecting and while it was delicate and light, it wasn’t the best wine in the world. Kudos for trying something new though, right?

As Dan enjoys a starter, I was cohered into sharing some garlic flatbread strips. This came up a lot bigger than either of us expected, despite it being on the sharer menu. So many starters are designed to share yet they come up minuscule, so this was incredibly refreshing. The large flatbread was cut into three vertical strips and served with a little ramekin of melted garlic butter for us to dunk the bread in. It was an ideal thickness, with a soft and plump edge, yet a crisp and crunchy garlic infused centre with a thin base. We dove in with a rip and pull tactic to divide the bread as we chatted.

For my main course, I looked to the seasonal menu. I wanted to try the beef rib wellington, however this happened to be the one and only dish that the restaurant had run out of! Cursing my bad luck, I scanned the menu and ordered my second choice, also on the seasonal menu. I ordered the beef fillet stack, naturally medium rare. The 8oz steak would be topped with a slice of streaky bacon, a slice of Somerset brie and a slow roasted tomato. Sides wise, the dish came with creamed spinach and crispy potato slices. I love a good steak, and at a venue called Beefeater, you kind of expect the beef to be pretty top notch.

I wasn’t wrong. The steak was perfectly cooked, and although I have had more tender steaks in fancier restaurants, there was nothing wrong with this piece of meat. It was just the right level of pinkness and it cut very easily, with a great, slightly chargrilled flavour. Lovely and thick, it was a tasty chunk of meat. I also liked the fact that the toppings provided me with enough juicy options to eat with my steak, so Dan watched in horror as my tomato ketchup dish remained largely untouched. Granted, the brie came up as a rather shrivelled and small slice, although it was nicely melted over the meat. The bacon was the smallest and skinniest slice I have ever had the misfortune to glance upon, however as a component of the whole dish, it was still ok. The tomato was nice and big, the roasting process really drawing out the flavour and giving it a lovely soft texture too. Each element worked really nicely together. If the dish had had less components, then I would have been disappointed, however all together, it was very nice indeed. The crispy potato slices were thin and rather nice. The creamed spinach was more like a sauce than a vegetable in my opinion as it was so liquid. I’m not sure that is entirely a good thing, however it tasted nice and I was able to use it to dunk my potatoes in so it wasn’t too shabby. Although the dish wasn’t entirely perfect, or as I expected, weirdly, it still worked, and I still enjoyed it.

Dan ordered a mixed grill and then promptly got the meat sweats. Each piece of meat on his plate was very generously sized and of good quality, leading him to say it was one of the best mixed grills that he had ever had. He struggled to finish, yet he still delivered a clean plate to earn a thumbs up.

For dessert, I went back to the seasonal menu to order a gin and tonic lemon trifle. I love trifle and I love gin and tonic, so this was very much a must-try for me. Served in glass straight-sided dessert bowl, the base of the trifle was very much like a sponge pudding with the gin and tonic soaked sponge fingers at the bottom. The gin was a main flavour which was great, as so often the alcohol can get hidden among other ingredients. The lemon curd that was meant to top the sponge was rather non-existent, however there was more than enough of the light and silky whipped cream on top to compensate, so pairing this with the moreish sponge was really lovely. It was a nice sized dessert and not too heavy after my main meal, so I’m really glad I got to try this one.

I couldn’t leave without ordering a Bailey’s milkshake too. Served in a traditional tall glass and garnished with chocolate shavings, it was basically a vanilla based ice cream, blended with Bailey’s. As with the gin, the Bailey’s was certainly present and correct, although not dominant throughout the whole drink so I’m not sure what the balance of the blend was exactly. It was creamy, cool and very nice indeed. An extra treat!

The Beefeater menu has a great choice and range to pick from, and we both enjoyed our meal there. Oddly enough, although I had little niggles about a couple of the dishes, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the food, and I’m still pleased with the food choices I made. I’ve even picked out a few dishes I’d like to try from the seasonal menu for next time! The portion sizes are really good, which is definitely something I value, and the waiting staff were chatty and polite. We spent just over £60 on our meal which is pretty much par for the course, so I’m happy with the price range too. All in all, we had a lovely date night, and I’m looking forward to going to my new Beefeater again soon!

Eating Around: The Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank, London

I’ve visited Shakespeare’s famed Globe theatre more times than I can count over the past few years, enjoying a wide variety of performances both in the outdoor circular stage area as well as the indoor Sam Wanamaker theatre. One thing however that I have been dying to do for absolutely ages is have a meal in the accompanying Swan restaurant. Peeking through the windows of this opulent looking British eatery, there was nothing I wanted to do more than nab myself a table and check out the menu. Luckily for me, my sister Jess and I received some money from our grandma at Christmas, with strict instructions to book ourselves in to see a performance and treat ourselves to dinner beforehand. We excitedly booked to see The White Devil in the Sam Wanamaker, preceding our show with an early Sunday dinner.

No doubt about it, the Swan restaurant is gorgeous. It’s so visually stunning that you simply feel more elegant and regal just by sitting in there. In glorious rich hues of gold paired with a statement charcoal grey and an abundance of modern ball lights and chic cream ceramic animal heads, the Swan manages to capture both trendy yet traditional, stylish and chic yet comfortable. It is glamourous in a rustically English way that polishes up lovely. It felt wonderful to be there as we were shown to our table in the restaurant, which is situated above the bar.

Ordering a bottle of Chenin Blanc from our suited waiter, we then turned our attention to the important task at hand – dinner. We had been given the Sunday menu which included the deal of two courses for £24.50 or three courses for £29.50. We immediately opted for the three courses. As we were mulling over our options, a bread basket was brought over, alongside a flat dish housing a disc of creamy butter. The bread had the holey inner appearance of a ciabatta, however it was also flavoured with herbs – I think rosemary, with green flecks here and there in the bread. With a dark, chewy crust and cut into thick doorstops, we knew we had found a safe food haven if this is how they served bread.

Starters was a tough choice, however I decided to play it safe and have the ham and savoy cabbage terrine, served with Yorkshire rhubarb and sourdough toast. Presentation wise, it was very arty and colourful. The terrine was the traditional ham coloured pink, flecked with large chunks of orange carrot studded throughout as well as the layer of bright green cabbage running through the centre for an extra splash of colour. If this wasn’t lurid enough, the rhubarb actually came in the form of a vibrant and robust puree, served as a puddle next to my lightly toasted half slice of sourdough bread. The puree was potent and punchy in flavour, really enlivening the terrine. It was colourful and creative and I enjoyed tucking in to this playful plate.

As it was Sunday, I decided to remain stoically British and have a roast dinner, however I veered away from the classic cuts of meat and inside opted for the pork belly, something I don’t usually have at home. When my plate arrived, I couldn’t resist licking my lips at the satisfyingly large hunk of meat sat dead centre in my plate, an island topped with crackling that was surrounded by roast potatoes, a caramelised onion, boiled carrots and cabbage as well as a large and imposing Yorkshire pudding. A dish of apple sauce was placed on our table, and our waiter poured gravy over our meals from a silver gravy boat. Wowee what a roast. The pork belly was amazing. The underbelly meat was tender and flavourful, the fat absolutely bursting at the seams with rich yumminess, while the crackling adding a moreish juxtaposition in texture, despite being more chewy than crisp (maybe due to the gravy?). Regardless, the meat was splendid and proves just how decadent a simple dish can be when executed perfectly. The Yorkshire pudding didn’t have the soft and squishy centre that is usually my calling card, however it was yummy and crisp. The roast potatoes were spot on with that delightfully fluffy centre paired with a crisp outer shell, while the colourful veg added a nuance of colour and healthiness to the edge of the plate. The onion was an unusual but really lovely touch – I haven’t had caramelised onion served with a roast before, however I think this combo really worked. This was some impressive roast dinner.

Despite being full to the brim thanks to the more than generous helpings, we were not going to stumble at the last hurdle, no siree. Plus, I had already spied the vanilla rice pudding served with plum compote and I was not going anywhere until I had tried it. Oh it certainly lived up to my dreamy expectations. The rice pudding itself was wonderfully flavoured so as not to be overladen with vanilla, but rather just beautifully accented, with the texture at that fantastic middle ground between goo and set custard which basically equals rice pudding perfection. The plum compote was zingy, flavourful and a real taste injection which was magic with the rice. The whole dessert was sprinkled with flaked almonds too giving the dish extra crunch and a creamy, nutty element. It was a match made in heaven with these flavour combos so I adored every spoonful. I didn’t need room to breathe, I just needed more dessert!

The wine we had selected was also fabulous and a great choice from Jess. It was fruity and light, very drinkable and bursting with zingy, fresh flavours. Our waiter helpfully propped it up in an ice bucket next to our table, even refreshing it when the ice turned to water to ensure our wine remained at an icy chill. The waiting staff were incredibly professional, poised and polite, with a splash of charm thrown in.

Price wise, with the bottle of wine, our meal came to £91. Usually such a price tag would have me cringing – not that I’ve ever paid that much at a meal for two! – but luckily this was a Christmas present treat, so we could afford a bit of a blowout treat on something so special. And it was special. The food was magnificent and I can’t compliment it highly enough. It may be basic and simplistic British favourites but the food is also uniquely playful and exciting, in both colour, appearance and taste. I absolutely loved going to The Swan and I think I’ll definitely be putting this on my Christmas list again next year!

Holiday Munchies: Liskeard Tavern, Liskeard, Cornwall

P1050619During a recent week-long stay in holiday hotspot Cornwall, big family dinners out were the norm. With an age range between five and 50 plus as well as diverse food tastes, finding a restaurant that fits the bill for everyone can be tricky. Now I already know that Table Table and the other pub chains associated with Premier Inns tend to offer tasty fodder around my more local haunts, but I was interested to see whether the menu differed greatly or how the quality compared when you swapped the M25 based eateries for something a whole lot more scenic.

One night, we headed to Liskeard Tavern, a Whitbread Inns venueP1050621 decked out in muted shades of mauve and soft blue greys for a peaceful aura. Ordering a glass of white wine (large of course), I settled down to take a look at the menu. I fancied something protein fuelled, and although steak is usually my first port of call in these cases, I rather liked the sound of the garlic roasted potatoes and carrots that were set to accompany the smoked gammon steak. With this in mind, I thought I’d go for the steak, since I haven’t had this in a while and I always like to have something different when I’m out and about.

When my plate arrived, I was a little bit disappointed by the size of my gammon; cut in a long, thin strip that edged my white, oval plate, it was narrow and also very thin – it would have been nice to be treated to a few more centimetres to make it more of a steak shape. However, it was tantalising griddled with charred cooking lines, the narrow boarder of fat crisped and oozing on the edge of the meat. Gammon is usually a bit harder to cut into, however I didn’t find this a massive P1050622problem and I loved the ripe flavours of the steak – the smoky flavourings were more of a gentle infusion and not too in your face at all, simply another layer that enhanced the natural juiciness of the pork deliciously. Despite how thin the meat was, it was still succulent which proves good cooking and the natural cooking style really let the meat do the talking.

The potatoes and carrots were really lovely, oven roasted with garlic for a pungent herb kick that bombarded your mouth with warmth. The potatoes were basically a relation of the classic roastie, so they were nice and crisp on the outside (without nearing burnt status) whilst light and fluffy on the inside for a great texture composition, the garlic really tying the textures together. The carrots added a sweetness and firmer crunch, great when paired with the potatoes. The dish was also served with a flavourful P1050623mustard and apple sauce that was a real surprise. It was have looked like a mere chunky apple sauce, however its taste had far more kick, with a sweet yet peppery wallop of mustard that somehow managed to enhance the sweetness of the sauce. Smeared on the gammon, this was simply a match made in heaven! Peas were also present and that is all I have to say about those!

After polishing my plate and helping my hubby with a few of his remaining chips, it was time to pick dessert. I find it very hard to resist a decent sundae, especially if there are brownies present, so when I spotted the rocky road sundae on the menu, complete with marshmallows and brownies – let’s just say I didn’t stand a chance. In a very nicely portioned sundae glass, my vanilla ice cream tower was stacked decadently with gloriously squadgy cubes of chocolate brownie that added a lovely, cakey element and a rich, chocolate flavour. Soft marshmallows balanced on top with a few scattered down below, chocolate sauce drenching the inside of my sundae glass. Topped with a generous swirl of whipped cream and speared with a wafer, this was one of those P1050620desserts that is just so simple yet so enjoyable, so it’s difficult to go wrong with such a classic.

All in all, we very much enjoyed our meal at Liskeard Tavern. The service was a little slow at first, especially for a Thursday evening, but the staff were all polite and pleasant. Having an energetic little one in our group caused a few pointed stares from other customers which I found a bit odd but other than that, it was a nice meal. Sometimes you just need a standard, classic menu to see you through.

Holiday Munchies: The Old Quay House, Hayle, Cornwall

P1050668Sundays. The home of many things. The home of the lie in. The home of breakfast in bed. The home of all laziness. However the most important item that Sunday houses is undoubtedly the great Sunday roast. During a recent holiday in Cornwall with my in-laws, Sunday rolled around and my father-in-law was unstoppable in his mission to locate this British tradition for us to partake in. Hands up to him, he found a real winner when we stumbled across The Old Quay House, which actually specialises in its Sunday roast hot buffet, served at both lunch and dinner time.

P1050672Situated off a main road and surrounded by rolling greenery and nearby animals also chowing down on the lush grass, The Old Quay House is your typical old school Cornish building; white-washed with an interior loaded with dark wooden beams, stark and cumbersome against the pale walls and ceilings. Upon entering, my husband and father-in-law had to mind their heads, however we were instantly greeted by the welcome sight of a well-stocked bar on the left and an array of mismatched seating on the right. An official dining room sat in a conservatory style addition at the back of the building, but us latecomers had to be seated in the front bar area instead, which to be honest I preferred.

P1050671To go alongside the characteristic beams and the simplistic dining set up was a quirky collection of sporting goods. Framed and colourful football t-shirts sat next to mounted cricket bats and club mascot posters, black and white sporting images huddled alongside coloured team pics. Adding an assortment of colours and textures to the décor, it really juxtaposed with the tradition building to add interest.

The popular Sunday roast is served as a hot buffet, where waiting staff help you to pile your plate high. You start by going up to the paying desk next to the bar, ordering your roast dinners and collecting a token for each meal you order. Then, you queue for your dinner, giving your token to the first waiter to serve you to show you have paid. You order your drinks independently at the bar. This P1050674method of ordering may appear cumbersome, but it’s great for groups who want to split payments, or for those who are driving and don’t want to contribute to a friend’s alcohol consumption if a bottle of wine is also shared (come on, we all have a friend like that!).

Reaching the front of the buffet queue, the heat coming from the platters from absolutely stifling, however the smells were equally making my mouth water passionately. Bringing a fresh gammon joint, I ordered the first few slices for my meal, as well as some tender strips of beef to accompany it. A squadgy Yorkshire pudding was piled on too, nice and soft, just how I like them, as well as these weird cubes that were attempting to pass as stuffing. These stuffing cubes were the only aspect of the meal I wasn’t 100% sure about P1050669– they tasted and looked a bit artificial for my liking.

They really loaded you up on veg too; I went for roast potatoes, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, broccoli and cauliflower cheese, my plate straining under the weight of my meal. Needless to say I didn’t let peas tarnish the hearty meal I had so far complied. At the end of the homespun buffet was a selection of gravy and sauces for you to slop on, so I splashed some over my meal with gusto.P1050670

It was a corking roast dinner. A brilliant size, you can’t help but feel stuffed when you are done. The meat is a real speciality and you can taste the TLC that has gone into the cooking of those succulently large and juicy joints. The gammon had that lovely fresh twang of pork while the beef was pure melt in the mouth. The veg was all pretty standard and nicely done – not mush and not al dente – and two Yorkshires was a plus point too. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this hearty and homely meal, and I could completely understand how they had sold out at lunchtime.

The dessert menu was very simple. Once we had made our order at the bar again and received our food, it was actually a lot simpler than even I had anticipated. In my opinion, so much effort and care had gone into the cooking and preparation of the main courses, that dessert was most definitely an afterthought. Although the presentation was neat and well, just P1050675nice, it looked shop bought and plonked on a plate. I’m not being funny but I can do that at home if I want, I don’t really want that when I’m out and about.

I ordered the roulade of the day, which I was informed was chocolate orange, one of my very favourite flavour combinations. However, when it arrived, I was underwhelmed. It was a chocolate sponge that had been rolled with whipped cream to form the trademark roulade spiral, the edges of the plate dotted with tiny segments of tinned satsuma. It was nice and it was sweet, but I can’t help but have this niggle of ‘is that it’? My father-in-law’s pavlova was nicely stacked but again looked shop bought while my husband’s sundae was merely scoops of standard ice cream in a tower. Nice but distinctly P1050673underwhelming compared to the magnificence of the classic roast dinner that came before. Clearly, people don’t usually have space for dessert!

Accompanied by a glass (or two) of sauvignon blanc, I did enjoy my meal – the roast dinner is a real winner and is honest, homemade cooking at its best. There is nothing fancy about a roast, but done well, it can excel itself, as it did here. The meat in particular was delicious and very flavoursome. Price wise, The Old Quay House was reasonable and the other main course dishes we saw whizzing from the kitchen also looked incredibly palatable. A cosy home away from home, it’s worth a pit stop if you are a fan of the roast. Just make sure you book if you want any hope of getting a table!

Holiday Munchies: Jamaica Inn, Bolventor, Cornwall

P1050688Fans of Daphne du Maurier will be well versed in Jamaica Inn’s murky past, the grey stone Cornish pub come restaurant once being the weather-beaten home to smugglers and trawlers pestering the coast of the wild Cornish moors, grabbing some much needed refreshment between lifting loads of goods. Although now the location is more famed for its ghost walks than pirate locale, I couldn’t wait to investigate the character of the place as I headed there for an evening meal with my in-laws on the last night of our stay in Cornwall.P1050690

The interior is typical of many of the older buildings we had come across during our stay in Cornwall; dark and chunky wooden beams lay coarsely across low white-washed ceiling, the beams encircling the walls and mirroring the dark wood of the bottle clustered bar as well as the polished tables and stools that sat around the relaxed eating area in the pub. A crackling log fire blistered within a large stone hearth, adding a unique homely feel and a hint of times gone by. Paper thin coloured notes of money, I couldn’t tell which, were stapled to some of the ceiling beams, adding an intriguing splash of colour and character that seemed almost a clue to the well-travelled visitors of the past. Odds and ends seemed to be everywhere you looked, creating quite a hodge-podge collection; however every item looked at home in its spot, as if it were meant to be sitting there. I could almost envision the trade ships and pirates who must have gathered in this quaint and quirky place.

P1050700A group of six, we were shown to a rectangular table next to the fire, three of us seated on a wooden bench made comfy by a matching deep red cushion, the rest of us perched on wooden chairs that had a stool like feel. The light from a tiny window adjacent to the table cast a nice natural glow on our table, while the fire the other side protected us from the rather draughty breeze that whistled past our feet.P1050701

Sipping a refreshing chilled glass of sauvignon blanc, I perused the classic British menu. The choice wasn’t massive, but it featured your classic grills, burgers, pizzas and pies – solid comfort food with something for everyone in the family, making it suitable for all ages. Feeling decidedly British, I opted for the steak and ale pie. Made with shortcrust pastry, it was a circular individual pie that emitted a delightful puff of steam when I cut into the crunchy, golden crust. Tumbling chunks of tender beef rolled out over my unwelcome portion of green garden peas, the rich inner gravy also sluicing over my rolled round of creamy mashed potato. A separate portion of gravy was presented in a tidy plain white jug.

P1050705The pastry was buttery and nicely seasoned, with the perfect level of crunch, even after being sodden in the rich, flavourful gravy. The beef was soft and the ale flavour added that little something extra to the flavour, deepening it somewhat. The mash was smooth and lump-free, soft and creamy – it even managed to disguise the taste of the peas that blighted my plate. The main course was very much an unfussy meal; it was plain, simple, homemade cooking, like Sunday dinners prepared by your mum. No frills it was honest food that tasted good, so it gets a simplistic thumbs up from me in response. It didn’t blow me out of the park, but I enjoyed the meal a great deal.P1050704

I continued  my British food theme with dessert, choosing a particular favourite of my granddad’s; spotted dick. Asking for extra custard, I ended up with two small jugs filled to the brim with the yellow vanilla loveliness, drowning my unfortunate pud! (Note: this is a good thing in Katie terminology). The pudding itself was taste yet again nothing to write home about. A bit lacklustre in appearance, it was nice and squidgy, dotted with plump sultanas and raisins, presented in a neat circle. It was a good size for a dessert so that made me a happy bunny!

Jamaica Inn couldn’t really be described as gourmet, but it is somewhere I would go back. Its atmosphere is strangely different, with that unique echo of traditional Cornwall and times gone by where pirates ruled the roost of the coast. Homely and comfortable, it is suitable for adults and little ones alike, with a menu that even the fussiest of eaters couldn’t complain about, so that also presents a win-win. It made for a very nice, uncomplicated evening with the family that didn’t burst the bank balance either.