03 August, 2006

The Old Inn, Halwell (A381, Devon) - Review

The Old Inn, Halwell #1
So for dinner on the Sunday night (it being the last night of the break) we decided to try the local pub to the site which was "The Old Inn", located on the A381 in Halwell, the pub has been in existence since at least 1850 (although records do state that it had to be rebuilt in 1874 after being destroyed by a fire, you can read more on their not exactly easy to find website)...we parked in the good sized car park out the back and walked in to find a very comfortable bar, populated only by what looked like 2 locals and one family of 4 busy eating (the place was almost empty)...

The portly barman greeted us politely enough but with a frown on his face, I put on my best friendly smile, ordered some drinks and enquired of him if we might order some food, to this he said "Well now, that all depends...'ave you booked?", slightly bemused I glanced around the empty pub clocking vacant table after vacant table, each and every one of which, it slowly became apparent, sporting a tiny "Reserved" sign that I had failed to notice before..."Urm, no"...I was forced to admit, "Well, I'll 'ave to check for yer" said he, shaking his head, and vanished from behind the bar...returning moments later he said "You're lucky, last table", so we opened a tab and retired where he directed, a small resturant style-extension out the back (where there were two tables without reserved signs)...

Shrugging the peculiarity of our welcome aside, the menu was excellent, I opted for "Exmoor reared serloin steak" (they are really good around here for using local produce, Surrey could learn a thing or two from Devon, it looks like a local council initiative), Al went for the Mixed Grill, Vodqueen the Roast Beef and Flyingpops decided to have stir fried vegetables with cashew nuts (the full menu is here, but it was certainly impressive in it's range! We found out later via campsite gossip that the wife (and head cook) is a Phillipino immigrant, which explains some of the more unusual menu options for a Devon pub!)...

The steak was *perfect*, wonderfully tasty and cooked to perfection, melt-in-the-mouth juicy goodness, chips were a bit undercooked, but I didn't have much room left after the steak and veg anyway... ;) Flyingpops was very pleased with her stir fry (until I tried a bit and told her I thought it was cooked with Oyster sauce), Al obviously enjoyed his Mixed Grill because he didn't say a single word until it had largely dissapeared, and Vodqueen expressed some displeasure at the roast's bland (standing around in the kitchen until needed) flavour and presentation...
The Old Inn, Halwell #2
I trotted off to the bar to get a second round of drinks for everyone at some stage during all this and stood in a queue behind a young couple (long haired surfer types) who were being told "I 'opes you don't want to eat, we're packed!" (at this he opened up the hatch to the kitchen and barked "We're really getting busy out 'ere now!" to no-one in particular) prompting a similar confused look to the one I gave (around the empty bar) from the surfers, who smiled, shrugged and left...I had to wonder quite why they couldn't manage to serve more than one meal per table per evening, most other places manage alright...but it's his pub, not mine, I guess... ;)

When I got to the front of the queue I ordered beer (fine) but you should have seen the scowl he gave me when I tried first to order a "Pimms", "No Pimms 'ere", and then a "Malibu and Lemonade" (the Malibu had run out)...one of the locals turned to me and whispered "Try as you might, you'll never manage to wipe the smile off that one's face" and winked...summed it up perfectly I think... ;)

Conclusion? Great grub (but order something freshly cooked), book your table and keep the drinks simple for the poor man (oh and he was apparently nice as pie to Flyingpops when she went up to settle the bill, so maybe send the girls to the bar... ;)

6 comments:

Daniel said...

Country pubs. Don't yer just love'em ;)

I could do with a break about now and a nice Steak and chips as well! :P

Enjoy your holiday

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

Wish it were my proper hols...just a weekend break....bloody good steak though...top marks... ;)

Anonymous said...

I work there and that made me laugh so much. Brian (barman/owner) is slightly grumpy its true, but he treats his locals like gold. Crispina (chef) is a brilliant cook, but I know what you mean when you say about tables, but its his pub and he can do what he wants.

Glad you enjoyed you're steak, and when you mentioned how the Roast was bland etc. it's mainly because small pubs can not afford to consistently purchase new produce each day.

Anyway, if you visit again hopefully Brian won't in such a bad mood.

¨°º©[ Fink ]©º°¨ said...

Haha! Excellent! Tell you what, it's awesome in a way, because it's just a place you can't help but *remember*!

Really, thanks for commenting, and keep up the good work, nothing will keep me from coming back next time we are in the area... ;)

No need to make excuses for the roast (people will expect it regardless of the practicalities of actually cooking and serving it) when the rest of the menu was so brilliantly executed... ;)

Anonymous said...

NO DOGS allowed in pub - the only one in South Hams?
My friend had a dirty glass and guess what - then another. Strange 'welcome' from Brian. Shame as we are locals and would spread the word.
Food delicious but we did not meet the chef to thank her, so thank you Crispina.

Anonymous said...

hahahaha that made me laugh Fink :)