Pub Lunch?

December 6, 2021

I was brought up with many sagely bits of wisdom and manners. After all “manners maketh the man”. One such pearl was, “if you cant say something nice, better say nothing at all!”  That’s the reason why I have not reviewed establishments I like to refer to as ‘formula’. The places – usually a large chain owned, that masquerade somewhere between tavern and gastro-pub.

Usually its the kind of place families go to celebrate an occasion, or workers endure a mid-week team lunch. The ratio of quality versus purse, barely moves the pendulum to the “ok side”.

When you care less for the food, more for the ambience, and most definitely appreciative of the company – then you’ve found yourself in one of these places. Don’t get me wrong I have spent enough hours and sterling in the likes of Toby Carvery, Beefeater, Marstons etc & have had my fill of the “ok” menu to last a life time.

With the extended family living more than an hour away we tend to meet half way. As talented as they are, I don’t think geography was their forte, as we usually travel well over an hour to get there, wherever there is.

Our last 3 meet ups away from home have motivated me to review the previously unmentionable ‘Gastro Chain Pub’. I will present in reverse order like “Miss World Contest” primarily as I want you to read to the end.

Ty Risha Inn

Ty Risha is located along a very quiet lane adjacent to the MacArthur Designer Village at Sarn Park, Bridgend. You’d be fooled into thinking that mass consumerism and main South Wales to London transport conduit, where indeed ‘a million miles away’. Styled upon an Elizabethan country house, this is a SA Brains establishment. 

The menu is the expected mixed of “pub favourites”, grills, and a carvery. Prices were slightly higher that what I would expect to pay for the aforementioned ‘formula’ in Llanelli. Scanning the menu I did decide on the “carvery platter for 2” which came in at pennies under £20 where as a carvery plate was £12.

I am a fan of a good old fashioned roast; the operative word being ‘good’; past experiences of carveries have deflated me between expectation and reality. I cant abide reheated mini green golf balls or frozen peas as they are referred to on the menu. Therefore, I tend to steer away. On this occasion nothing jumped off the menu at me, and I thought sharing a platter meant I could easily refrain if awful and “how much food” would actually be on the plate for under a tenner per head.

I will put my hands up in surrender and freely admit I was wrong. For one the platter was enough for 2 without compromise. The vegetables were cooked and served perfectly. The meat portions were sufficient with 3 meats on the platter and the quality was outstanding. Melt in the mouth and moist. I felt for once I had chosen what “the locals know” and had the house’s best value.

Coach & Horses Inn

Located between greater Cardiff and Newport, in the suburb of Castleton, this is a Beefeater pub. I plumped for the £20 mixed grill. Again the only thing that jumped off the menu. I do love my chips so when I was offered chunky, I started salivating before I could get my words out. Words that I would later be forced to eat. Think McCain Beefeaters and that would be an improvement. The meat, presentation and the accoutrements were able, cooked as I ordered, but I’ve had equalled for £12. Ambience was good even if we were greeted by a disused toilet basin in the car park as we walked the few step from vehicle to front door. As with Ty Isha, the waiting staff were excellent.  Beyond corporate training in fact to ensure our visit was as perfect as possible,even if,  having to resort to the addendum of “What’s off”.

Melrose Inn

Deep in the jungle of St Mellons, you will find the King of Gastropubs. A chain I am more than familiar with, who seem to get it right. Fantastically attentive staff, quality and quantity on every level of a diverse menu. Whether wanting ‘a large portion’ or feeding ‘little ones’, so no one comes away hungry nor feeling as though they’ve met Dick Turpin on the York road. I am talking of that northern chain “Green King”. Pub favourites range from the standard plate at £8 to the deluxe at £10. A weekend carvery is £10. I plumped for the “all day breakfast” which came with 2 eggs, 3 sausages, beans, bacon (that looked cooked – as so many places are frightened to brown bacon!!!), mushroom, 1 slice of granary toast with butter, 4 hash browns & a slice of perfectly grilled tomato. Claire went for the carvery and chose turkey and beef. She had 2 large slices of both, and offered me a sample. Both were so succulent and flavoursome, I immediately regretted not joining her in the carvery line. I have never had a bad experience in a Green King nor have I left neither hungry or feeling fleeced.

If you have the opportunity, do visit,as you will be amazed at, the value for money versus quantity, more importantly, the quality of the menu.


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