We don’t make a habit of eating out. It’s usually expensive by the time you’ve added your drinks to the bill, the need to tip and you don’t really know what’s going in to your food, unless you awkwardly ask. However, when we’re on holiday, or a special occasion comes up, then like many others, we make an exception.
Today was the final day of our bank holiday break before setting off for home the net day and we decided to pay a visit to Worcester to spend our last night a little closer to home. We’ve spent and enjoyable a long week in our campervan with our pooch, starting at Chertsey for work, then headed to the South Coast, from Hayling Island to Brighton. The weather has been fantastic, which also brought the traffic.
Getting back to Worcester, we aimed for the Malvern Hills because after recently digging through my Mum’s paternal family tree, we discovered this was where our roots lied so it would be rude not to check out the area and there’s not many places we haven’t camped in but this was one of them.
It was around a late Sunday lunchtime when we parked up and as we are dog bound, we thought we’d settle for outside or courtyard eating. Unfortunately this is where I feel the city is lacking and after a week of eating either in our camper or on foot midst a 15 mile daily walk, we really just wanted something a bit more civilized and had to resort to googling “dog friendly pub”. This is where we had a spot of luck with a pub called King Charles II and according to tripadvisor, it served pies “to die for” which almost had us salivating.
As we don’t eat out much and usually when we do, they are dog friendly in some form, if only outdoors, I thought I’d take this opportunity to review my first dog friendly pub dining experience which is likely to be added to a longer list over time in other locations throughout the UK.
As soon as we walked in, we were met with a warm pleasant aroma of sweet ales in the air while it was a warm muggy day. The oldy-worldy feel the pub has felt like we’d stepped back in our home village pubs in Yorkshire, making us instantly feel at home. It looked quite busy on entrance but when we asked at the bar whether any seats were available, we were surprised to learn there was a another dining room upstairs and no where was off-limits for our pooch.
Just before finding a table, we were given two menus which we quickly established was mostly dedicated to pies and I opted for the Moo & Blue (Beef & Stilton) and my fiance ordered the Troll Pie (Steak & Ale featuring Craddock’s Troll Ale). For £8.95, it offered three sections to choose from, a hand crafted pie from 11 carefully thought out flavours, a choice from 8 different flavoured mashes and whether you preferred mushy or garden peas. The pies varied with a good mix of meats such as lamb, venison, beef or chicken in classic but tarted up combinations to impress. The simplicity of the menu of mostly pies meant less waste, they could be made in advance and to higher standards. As for mash, we always add things to ours, be it cheese, mustard or garlic and this menu did just that. I chose a garlic mash to accompany my cheesy pie while my fiance ordered his favourite, the cheesy mash for his steak and ale. It is definitely worth noting that we were so intrigued by the menu, we had to try each others but unfortunately I couldn’t taste cheese in his once I’d had some of my beef and stilton pie, so try and opt for a balance. Cheese and cheese wouldn’t go and my garlic mash wasn’t too intense either which is perfect when you’re with company and out in public.
The meal took around 20 minutes to arrive and in that time, we had bought a diet coke for me and a semi sweet Shandy which was lovely; I’m no ale connoisseur but the pub was renowned for its selection of ales, so it is worth trying for yourself. Our cutlery, which also perfectly arrived prior to our meals were served in a rustic steel ale tankard, a pot of mustard and salt and pepper in grinders. If being picky, the salt grinder didn’t really grind and I’m not overly keen on salt chunks on my dishes.
Then came the meal itself. We were a little concerned it wouldn’t be filling enough as we have been hiking for miles over the weekend but was also served in a rustic home-cooked theme with a twist. The crushed style mash was the main bedding on the plate with a 10cm wide pie on top, accompanied with peas and gravy. The mash was beautifully simple in a thick no-messing texture which was more like a topping from a cottage pie – I could be mistaken but the garlic mash gave me the impression it was made with a mini splash of milk and no butter or cream which is usually a healthier option I make. Also, getting to the pie, the crust had almost a lovely firm filo-pastry crunch texture to the very top of its layer with a traditional shortcrust directly underneath and all around the pie.
When finished, we felt we could have eaten another half serving and so this is when we tested of what else the menu had to offer. The desert section on the reverse says please ask at the bar for a selection to choose form, which unfortunately went sort of down hill from here. There were only two options available: an Eton Mess with raspberry and lemon or a selection of ice creams, each at £3.95. I didn’t have a particular pudding in mind, but would have preferred to being given more of a choice and was told with honesty by the staff that most people do not opt for a pudding and did not want to waste food if they had surplus left over, nor resort to serving deserts that had to be frozen. However, the eton mess had fresh strawberries, delicious grated chocolate and what felt like clotted cream, which quite frankly, was mouthwatering.
And finally before we left, I paid a visit to the toilet, which couldn’t avoid being stuck when I washed my hands, as there was a sign asking nicely not to use the hand dryer, yet no hand towels were available. It’s never a pleasant experience to have to use toilet paper which results in a soggy mess, but in terms of the overall price for the experience, a hand crafted pie, mash and side for £8.95, it was pretty good and just what we needed.
If you also love dining in the presence of your dog, then please also let me know of places you would recommend and hopefully we can review them on one of our many travels. And course, let me know if you pay a visit and what you thought!
Tastefully Vikkie x