Dish Detective was out catching up with some friends after meeting indoors was officially allowed once again.
However, Fareham wasn’t exactly the bustling hub of activity before all the enforced lockdowns – and now, on a cold and blustery Thursday evening (what happened to summer 2021!), it’s still pretty dead.
Never mind, we’ve arranged to meet in The Fareham pub in Trinity Street.
The pub was recently taken over by business partners Ron Challiss and Ian Winch, alongside his wife Karen.
They have a history of running pubs – and had spent more than five years running The Waterloo, in Weymouth, before jumping ship to Fareham.
The Fareham, once run by the publican Martin Munns, who was well known in the local area for his charity work and forceful character, had changed a bit since Martin left for pastures new in 2019.
Its big floral displays had gone, the pub had a for sale sign up and it was looking a bit forlorn, and with the landlord who took over directly after Martin now also departed, the trio from Weymouth are hoping to breathe a bit of life back into the business.
But we all know that it’s not been easy for the pub trade, with enforced closures, and strict Covid rules to follow and worried customers all harming their livelihoods.
The News has covered the story a couple of times and Dish Detective was keen to tuck in to some of its pub grub.
We arrive and it’s as quiet on the inside as it is on the streets of Fareham. There are a few punters, sparsely seated (thanks Covid) and it’s not the usual pub atmosphere that would have greeted you in 2019, but that’s only to be expected in these modern times.
The waitress is friendly and chatty, and she shows us to our table and hands us a paper menu. With many places moving online, it’s a relief to not have to get our phones out, struggle for signal and log in just to see what’s on offer.
We’re hungry for pub grub – and the menu offers that in abundance. There are bangers and mash, cottage pie, chilli, pasta dishes, curries, burgers and jacket potatoes – a veritable pub grub banquet, reminiscent of your traditional British pub menu.
The pies all catch our eyes – with a variety of fillings such as minted lamb, bean, steak and mushroom, chicken and chorizo, plus more (£9.45) and served with mash or chips and peas.
It is summer but it’s terrible weather so it’s only fitting that we order three pies – steak and onion – one with a gluten free pastry.
We are not disappointed as when they arrive, they are big portions, proper chips, served with a boat of gravy. They are hearty dishes, but delicious. We leave not a scrap on our plates.
The dessert menu is of the same style – big, traditional dishes – syrup sponges, chocolate sponge, chocolate fudge cake – you get the picture.
Only one of us has room – and our friend orders a sticky toffee pudding (£4) which comes with a boat full of thick custard. It’s food that takes you back a few years. However it hits the spot.
The food is exactly what you’d expect from a traditional pub. It’s straight-forward pub grub, and doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
Now I can’t mention a visit to The Fareham without mentioning the owls. The new management have two barn owls in a shed at the back. They are really beautiful creatures and it’s worth a trip to the pub just to see them.
The Fareham may not have the flowers out front that it once had, but it’s still a proper pub – and we encourage all our readers to pop in for a pint – and a pie.
Tel: 01329 288810