All Greene King’s newly-opened pubs – 31 of them – are given the title of farms to lure the public into a sense of country well-being. Havant’s opened in June.
The pub group also owns Flame Grills, Loch Fyne, Eating Inn pubs and now all Spirit Pub Company pubs, taking the total from 1,900 to 3,000. Good luck in the search for good staff.
But before I introduce you to the very large menu, let’s have a look around the very large pub.
It’s of an Anywheresville design, of course, with striped and patterned carpeting, ‘leather’ banquettes and chairs.
There is an old ‘picture’ of Hayling Island, one nod to its location in addition to the Havant Brewery’s Legless beer.
A sign sternly says no under-12s in a large section. Other table-top notices point out that you are not welcome to linger beyond two hours.
The ‘delicious’ menu offers the tried and tested: soup; cheesy garlic ciabatta; sharing platters; cod and chips; breaded scampi; burgers; pies; ham, eggs, chips; ‘giant’ chilli; lasagne; macaroni cheese; steaks; sandwiches and baguettes; jackets and a plethora of dishes under the umbrella of Farmhouse Heroes: mixed grill; sausage and mash and, of course, the hero of them all, the All Day Breakfast. So far so predictable.
As is the carvery, ‘the largest in Hampshire’, with three ‘succulent roasts and a great variety of our seasonal and signature vegetables’.
Signature? This pointless word joins many others on the menu including ‘Farm Assured’, ‘Premium’ and ‘Healthy Salad Bar’.
This bunfight of a place is described by one jaundiced online punter as having ‘an operating/service system that makes Watford Gap look welcoming’.
Queue, queue and more logjam-snaking lines is the management’s answer to finding a table: queuing at the carvery, at the till, then for drinks.
Mains run from about £8-£14.75 for that big mixed grill.
Portions are ridiculously large – too many people buying into quantity over quality.
A ‘British Beef & Ale Pie’ finally found its way to my table, half-an-hour after ordering it. Two nearby tables were given the wrong orders.
The massive pie – enough for two, if not three – was masked with the shiniest gravy.
Several chunks of meat fought valiantly for space among a mass of onions in the poor, undercooked pastry.
The chips were hot, the peas tasted of bleached water and the carrots were overcooked.
Desserts are equally questionable, size-wise.
‘Giant’ chocolate éclair; ‘mile high’ lemon tart; ‘massive’ choux pastry. There’s a Bosmere’s Boozey Boulder of pastry and Baileys to tempt or an honest Kitchen Sink with ice creams, whipped cream, chocolate and strawberry sauce for £8.50. Other desserts cost £4.45.
I chanced a lemon tart and pushed it away.
Another onliner’s take on the chain’s ‘cake-away’ concept was that it was ‘a naff temple to obesity and heart failure’. I couldn’t have put it better.
My bill came to a little less than £15 including a small glass of unpleasant shiraz.
We should despair of these massive, gigantic, mile-high, profit-greedy places, questioning their motives and their offerings.
Then drive straight past.
Langbrook Farm, 2A Langstone Road, Havant, PO9 1SA (023) 9248 0204
Open 9am – 11.30 pm Mon-Fri; 11 – 11.30 pm Sat; 11.30 – 11 pm Sun.
Disabled access: fine, but tables are close for wheelchair users.
Directions: turn off the A27 at Havant towards Hayling Island, the pub is on the right. Car park.