And what a joy it is to be back enjoying food and drinks with friends.
Dish Detective was at the Bold Forester, at Sarisbury Green, near Fareham, for a bit of a social get-together with two other families.
All three families have young kids, so the Bold Forester with its beautiful large pub garden, equipped with an excellent play area, was a great choice.
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It has a car park at the front, so no worries about parking.
It’s a weekend night so the kids are allowed to stay up a little later, but for the most part they want to go and play.
There’s a fort area with a swing, slide, play house, all secure at the back of the pub with a sturdy-looking fence to stop them escaping into the car park.
The adults take turns to supervise, and we pick the table closest to the play area to keep an eye on the smaller ones, and order drinks and food.
The pub is busy, the garden chairs on the patio are in high demand, however we don’t mind sitting on the picnic benches.
There are also families dining in, in the quieter area away from the garden, and also in the front garden which is equally as nice but minus children, and the staff are clearly working hard to keep up.
The Bold Forester is a traditional pub and one that’s obviously well looked after.
The landlady was also working hard, running her ship from the front.
It’s always reassuring to see when top brass are pitching in.
The service is friendly, if a little disjointed, as we see at least five different staff during our visit.
However, all are helpful and clearly all working together to deal with the unprecedented demand of a full garden on a summer’s evening.
The food is proper pub food – and we order a lager (forgive me CAMRA but it’s refreshing on a summer’s evening) and a plate of traditional whole tail scampi with chunky chips, salad and tartare sauce (£11.95).
Others in the group go for the hand-pressed gourmet burger, with crisp baby gem lettuce and beefsteak tomatoes served in a toasted floured bap with chunky chips, salad garnish and tomato chutney (£13.95), or the 10oz ribeye topped with garlic and parsley butter, with mushrooms, tomatoes, chips and salad garnish (£19.50) or the beer-battered fish and chips with tartare sauce and a choice of mushy or garden peas (£12.95).
The kids get a choice from chicken goujons, fish fingers, sausage, pasta, pizza or ham and egg, most served with chips and beans or peas (£5.50 - £5.95)
There’s a respectable amount of choice for the kids, not that many of them are interested in the food when there’s a garden and play area to explore.
Our plates arrive and their contents are, as you’d expect from a great pub, large, wholesome and filling.
As it’s such a busy evening, we are impressed with the speed, and how the plates for a bigger group all come out at the same time. The chef must be working his socks off tonight.
The kids agree to eat and we all tuck in.
The food goes down well and there is hardly a scrap left among us.
As the evening is starting to draw in, the better-dressed clientele start arriving for their nights out, so we scoop up our rowdy rabble and clear out.
It’s been a pleasure to sit in the garden of the Bold Forester with our friends and family.
It’s a great traditional pub, and it’s great to see them back in business after all the lockdowns. Well worth supporting.
Tel: 01489 576400
(ratings out of five)
A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.
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