Carol queued patiently only to experience disappointment at The Heron pub in Havant.
The British are renowned for queueing. Take the Wimbledon queue, regarded as an ultimate example of Britain’s prowess when it comes to standing in line.
The likes of tea, cake and camping chairs are all considered to be part of the fun. It even has its own code of conduct in case, heaven forbid, somebody doesn’t understand how the queue works.
But no camping chairs were in evidence at The Heron, a sprawling, unprepossessing Havant pub.
The queue stretched from the bar out of the main door and while two remarkably brisk, good-natured staff were on duty, several more were needed.
The queue continued to get larger and larger, but why was everyone queueing here? What’s so special about The Heron?
As a Hungry Horse pub, owned by Greene King that has more than 220 pubs in the family, it might be faster finding another one nearby, maybe one without the snake out the door.
You wouldn’t necessarily come for the décor, chosen seemingly by a committee with each person going for a different type of hanging lampshade and colour combo.
I counted seven shades, all different, clashing colours and patterns set against the orange and sickly pink painted walls, swirling-patterned carpet and multi-coloured seating in this vast pub.
It seems keen to offer everything except the kitchen sink in large portions. Come here for your Megasaurus 20 oz steak; smokin’ double stack burger; big Bombay banquet (for one) and Full Monty mixed grill.
The usual suspects are also available including jacket potatoes, ribs and dull salads. Prices are über-low.
My meal was served on Hungry Horse newspaper and I could make out, under the grease of the jumbo cod and chips, names of UK fish and chip shops – Battersea Cod’s Home being the worst pun.
The fish was lovely and moist but tasteless with very greasy batter, while the fat chips were well-fried.
The mushy peas were left as was a cheap, unpleasantly vinegary tartare sauce. And why the tiny lemon wedge? It yielded two drops of liquid.
The portion, enough for two, couldn’t be finished, even if it had lived up to its ‘bigger and better catch than at the chippy’ tag.
And desserts? Big chocolate cornflake stacker, anyone? Big Candymania? Toffee apple waffle stacker? Martian-Mallow sundae?
I chose the least garish option – lemon meringue pie – and wished I hadn’t bothered.
It didn’t really taste of anything and the meringue was not recognisable either to look at or to eat.
However that queue tells me that, if it’s cheap and piled high, it’s a goer whatever the taste.
My bill came to just less than £11.
(023) 9248 3788
Open: Mon-Thurs: 11am-11 pm
Disabled access: Fine
How to get there: Take the B2149 towards Petersfield. Once in Havant turn left on to Stockheath Road. The pub is on your left with a large car park.