St Pancras in Chichester has been dubbed Restaurant Alley for good reason, with its array of Italian, Indian and Thai restaurants as well as pubs and bars.
With its mock-tudor facade and traditional bar interior it is clear The Nag's Head, which is a hotel as well as bar and restaurant, prides itself on delivering classic food and drink in a welcoming setting.
On this occasion its garden was full of customers enjoying drinks in the sun but there were a few tables free so we decided to sit outside to make the most of the exceptionally warm evening.
However, it would have been just as pleasant sitting in the restaurant area which was bright and spacious and opened up to the garden while managing to retain that homely pub feel.
The Nag's offers a comprehensive menu with a wide range of fish, foreign dishes, vegetarian options and English favourites. It is also well known for its carvery which it serves every evening and every weekend lunchtime. This comes with a choice of beef, turkey, gammon and a veggie option, as well as Yorkshire puddings, vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy.
As tempting as the carvery was I could not resist a staple of contemporary vegetarian food – the halloumi burger (a very reasonable £10). In contrast my partner ordered the handcrafted 8oz beefburger (£10) with added bacon (£1).
The food did not take long to arrive and we were both impressed by the size of our meals. Both were served on wooden slabs with the burgers towering high next to a generous portion of thickly cut golden chips, salad and coleslaw.
My burger was lavish with two chunky slices of halloumi between layers of roasted red pepper and courgette.The halloumi was cooked to perfection – slightly crispy on the outside while retaining that unique rubbery (for want of a better word) texture.
The chips too were to be savoured. They were typical pub chips done extremely well; not too greasy or over-cooked. I didn’t feel guilty about devouring them all because they were worth the calories.
However, my partner was not so enamoured by his burger. One half of the burger and part of the bun were a little charred – which he usually prefers – but he said that overall the meal was a little dry. The meat, he assured me, was fine, it might just have been because it came without salad or sauce. That was quickly rectified though as he used the salad garnish and mayonnaise to liven it up. A layer of cheese could be added to the burger for an extra £1 which might have remedied this.
The value and portion sizes, however, could not be faulted and we came to the second course of dessert feeling extremely full, so we decided to share a pudding and opted for the chocolate brownie (£6.50).
We could have chosen a whole host of home-made sweet treats from banoffee pie, to Eton mess or the crumble or cheesecake of the day. We were almost swayed by the intriguing chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake.
When we tasted the chocolate brownie, again after a short wait, we almost wished we had chosen the cheesecake. It was covered in cream, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce, but the brownie itself had almost no flavour. That's not to say it wasn’t edible, but it didn’t taste of chocolate and it was clear why it came with so many extras.
Although that was a slightly disappointing end to the meal it would not put me off going to The Nag's again. I was quite chuffed that for once the veggie meal came out triumphant and we both enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the bar and restaurant.
RATINGS (out of five)
The Nag's Head, St Pancras, Chichester, 01243 785823