A very pleasant evening!
The choice fell to Clair this month, and with Dave Graham sitting in for Dean this month, the Grubgang travelled not too far away to the Village Inn in Park Gate. Part of the Ember pub and dining chain, the pub offers its customers freshly prepared food in friendly surroundings.
The interior is fresh and modern and very relaxing. It is better than the outside, which is not too well lit for evening dining....you could easily drive past the pub if you were not aware of its exact location. A bit more lighting on the signs outside would remedy this. Being a Tuesday, the pub was quiet and the music in the background was at just the right level for people to talk without feeling the need to raise their voices! It could be possible to feel a little cramped though if dining on a busy night.
The menus are wonderful for someone on a budget. There is a set menu, with 3 choices of starter, a handful of mains and three desserts, 3 courses setting you back around £13, leaving ample for a drink out of your £20!! The menu offers plenty of well priced meals to still get 3 courses for £20, with some specials advertised (we however never found the board!)
So to the starters........Dave and Clair opted for the mushroom rarebit. Perfect portion size, tasty and cheesy (but maybe a bit too garlicky for Clair!) Mike had the coated brie, which looked fantastic and apparently tasted just that too!! Gemma opted for the prawn cocktail, served with brown bread and again hit the spot. Gemma and Dave were looking to see if you could eat healthy with this menu, which was not mean feat with the delicious amounts of comfort food on the menu, but is possible with a couple of dishes.
The mains came at a perfect time after the starters, we didn't wait to long but it wasn't straight on top of the starter either. Dave's healthier choice was the stuffed chicken. He said it was very nice to eat, it certainly looked colourful with plenty of different coloured vegetables. Unfortunately they were covered in butter which did make it difficult to finish if you are trying to be healthy. Great if you aren't!! Clair chose the triple sausage and mash dish which was absolutely divine! She even managed to eat the spicy sausage of the three, with the help of the melt in the mouth mash and delicious gravy. The mint and lamb sausage was definitely the highlight of the dish!!
Mike tried the trio of pies........three individual pies offering game, mushroom and another pie whose flavour fails me at the point of writing! He thoroughly enjoyed the dish, telling us he wished the pies were larger, they were so nice, That would defeat the object though! Gemma, who was also looking for a healthy choice, chose the pasta arribiata with the option of sliced chicken breast on the top. She found it very tasty, although the chicken was smothered with cheese meaning she couldn't eat it all, and the pasta was so filling, she had to take the rest home in a doggy bag!! (If you can call it one as it was just wrapped in foil - surely a pub which offers take away orders could have done a bit better??)
And finally, the desserts. Partaken by Mike and Clair, the choices were the coffee and doughnuts and sticky dicky pudding respectively. The coffee and doughnuts were listed in the menu as a coffee mousse with doughnut twists......shame the guy behind the bar didn't realise this when Mike ordered his dessert....he asked him if he wanted a coffee!! Mike ended up with a free coffee!! Clair really enjoyed her twist on the traditional spotted dick dessert....it was fruity with a delicious topping to it making it a little crunchy on top and served with piping hot custard!!
All in all, the gang really enjoyed their trip to The Village Inn and were warmed by the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the venue and the lovely open fire on display. Well done Village Inn, we give you.........
Marks out of 10..................................................................... 8