There are some evenings where you find yourself craving some proper, old-fashioned pub grub, and nothing else will satisfy your hunger.
You really can’t beat it – sitting at a table with some hot food and a pint, stuffing yourself until the top button on your jeans pops and hits the person across from you.
That is what I expected when I went to the Oast and Squire at Fareham – and I certainly left feeling satisfied.
Found just off the A27, the venue is split in two, with a bar separate from the main dining area.
The staff are immediately welcoming and so friendly; even if it’s your first visit they make you feel as though you have been a thousand times.
Heading along with my partner we ordered the sharing platter as a starter (£11.49) which came with four slices of flatbread, chicken wings, breaded mushrooms, lamb kofta and potato dippers, as well as three sauces.
There can be no doubt we got our money’s worth here, as the starter thoroughly impressed.
The flatbread had a good amount of butter and was a generous size too; it really melts in your mouth, without overpowering you with the garlic. The chicken wings also tasted great and were huge compared to what you sometimes get in other restaurants. The breadcrumb coating was nice and crispy, though I felt needed a bit more seasoning.
The lamb kofta, for me, was the highlight of the starter; it was packed with flavour with a good spicy warmth – not too spicy, but more of a pleasant heat – and was perfect for dunking in the dips.
My partner took a particular liking to the breaded mushrooms, saying that they were crispy on the outside and well-cooked inside; the breading itself was packed with that juicy mushroom flavour too.
The potato dippers were almost like chunky crisps in terms of shape, which made a nice change from wedges and also made them work brilliantly with the dip (you can never scoop too much dip at once, after all).
After this, we moved on to the main course without too much of a pause in between. I had the mixed grill (£16.49) which came with steak, chicken, gammon, sausages, chips, an egg, a mushroom and a tomato.
My partner had a bacon and cheese double stack burger (£12.99) with sweet potato fries, which were thoroughly enjoyed but proved difficult to finish.
The tomato and mushroom were both juicy and full of flavour – but the mushroom was stone cold in the middle.
The chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, cooked to perfection and brilliant with some mayonnaise (which I unashamedly lathered all over the chips and mushroom).
The egg was great and so were the two sausages, and the chicken and gammon had that beautiful grilled flavour that makes your tastebuds sing.
But we need to have a serious talk about the steak – or rather, the lack thereof.
My steak was about 10cm long, but only 1cm wide; a strip of meat, instead of the grand event and crowning glory that it should be in a mixed grill.
It also came out medium, when I had asked for medium rare.
Thankfully this atrocity was soon forgotten about after we each ploughed through an ice cream sundae.
The atmosphere in the restaurant was great – children will find themselves entertained and the kids’ menu has plenty of good options.
What summed up the evening for me was the staff singing Happy Birthday to a mum of three, smiles all round, while a group of pensioners on the next table saw off their drinks with copious laughter.
Oast and Squire, Peak Lane, Fareham. Tel: 01329 844377
(ratings out of five)