Carol Godsmark reviews Hoeford Inn, Fareham

The Hoeford Inn at 250 Gosport Rd, Fareham PO16 0SX.
The Hoeford Inn at 250 Gosport Rd, Fareham PO16 0SX.
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Pupils from Brune Park Community School in Gosport prepare to take part in a forthcoming national dance competition in Bournemouth. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (181107-1)

Pupils prepare to dance their hearts out at competition

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From edible plates, bathing in baked beans, gorging on 44 lobsters in 12 minutes or 18 sausages in the time it would take to brush your teeth (three minutes), these are just some challenges which turn food into a joke.

Look no further than Heston Blumenthal either, and his faux cookery books – by faux I mean it’s not possible for mere mortals to make any of the dishes.

Breaded mushrooms; nachos; burgers and chips; surf and turf; jacket potatoes; ham, egg and chips…forgive me if I nod off

As the great chef Nico Ladenis says: ‘Someone who makes egg-and-bacon ice-cream is immediately hailed as a genius when I don’t think he is. The Michelin system does a great disservice to the industry.’ I agree.

Food as theatre is another way to make food into a joke we seem to increasingly look out for, but none of this is present at Hoeford Inn. It is Gosport’s answer to the tried-and-tested with the likes of homemade lasagne, cottage pie, macaroni cheese and a weekly curry.

In short, nothing to draw you from too far away from either your home patch or comfort zone.

Breaded mushrooms; nachos; burgers and chips; surf and turf; jacket potatoes; ham, egg and chips…forgive me if I nod off.

If the well-worn menu is anything to go by, the dishes don’t change except on the specials board.

Of course there’s an all-day breakfast. Prices? Very reasonable. From £3.50 for a starter to £10.95, most mains around £7.

There’s a kid’s menu too and the now rarely-spotted fish or chicken goujons in a basket is present.

The plain, spotless décor in the two-tiered neighbourhood family pub offers spaced-out seating, some prints, a dartboard, pool table, some sofas and five TVs with Sky and BT Sport.

There’s also that must-have British nod to Christmas, the large menu already displayed in early October.

The service is as warm as the place was cold. I know, I know, it’s pricy heating the pipes, but when you have to rub your hands together for warmth while waiting for your cod, chips and peas, it’s counter to prolonging the visit.

But the sole staff member, a lovely welcoming woman, helped the hospitality along.

The fish dish was fine and dandy, the pleasantly-cooked cod with crunchy batter joined by decently-fried chunky chips and perfectly okay peas.

It’s a ‘find a table, arm yourself with a number and collect your cutlery’ kind of place which stocks those irksome, impossible-to-open sachets.

The well-stocked bar includes wines by the glass or bottle.

Desserts include brownies, spotted dick and sticky toffee pudding, all priced at £3.95.

The Hoeford is undoubtedly a magnet for families who favour bouncy castles and value meals, music lovers, poker players and pooland darts players.

In short, the neighbourhood is very well served and welcomed – and with no edible plates and no gimmickry.

My bill came to £10.20.

The Hoeford Inn, 250 Gosport Road. Fareham PO16 0SX

Open 12–11 pm Mon-Thurs, 11–12.30am Fri-Sat and 12–10.30pm Sun.

Food: ***

Service: ****

Atmosphere: ***

Disabled access: excellent.

How to get there: follow the M27 to Fareham then the Gosport Road, the pub on the right after Farrier Way. Large car park and garden.