The Coach House, set back on the busy Fareham to Gosport road, gives the instant impression of being a well-run pub.
Smartly-painted, the newly-renovated large grey-blue building is surrounded by a well-scrubbed car park. The interior is equally well looked after.
Pristine is rarely a word associated with pubs ,but this one is thanks to new management.
Although an independent, it resembles a chain thanks to its décor and menu. Immaculate burnt red, black and cream carpeting stretches throughout the L-shaped restaurant-cum-bar and a balconied area with fireplace. Upholstered chairs in tartan-like material are comfortable and look, well, spotless.
Start with maybe chicken liver pate with red onion jam and melba toast.
Most starters are around £4.95.
There are sharing chicken wings, BBQ ribs, southern fried chicken goujons, breaded mushrooms and whole baked Camembert.
Move on to rump, rib eye or sirloin steak; buffalo burger with mozzarella or a wild boar one;chilli con carne; beef lasagne; chicken curry ; beer battered cod ; salmon fillet with Hollandaise sauce; three ways pork: tenderloin, belly pork and pork pie, shredded red onion jam and Stilton cider jus; lamb shank, garlic and red wine jus ; chicken with pork and apricot stuffing, vegetable Wellington with a tangy tomato sauce and a whole slew of other dishes.
Jenga chips feature heavily. Jenga reminds me of towering wood blocks, not food, but, hey, it’s descriptive.
Prices range from £6.95 to £14.95.
A pile of crispy whitebait was wonderfully crunchy but oddly over-salty, possibly due to the crumb.
A salad garnish of dull, cheap cucumber, tomato and diced pepper was superfluous.
Why not dress it with some decent olive oil and lemon? Buttered brown bread helped.
Mushroom stroganoff with rice and a poppadum salad basket was my next choice.
Sadly, the yellow rice tasted like those Vesta packets from yesteryear with zilch-all flavour.
The mushrooms, some button, others sliced, were smothered in a pink cream sauce.
A real stroganoff is made with sour cream, paprika and onions, but this sauce tasted of nothing.
A little went a long way as did the salad, an identikit one found on the whitebait plate albeit in a crinkly poppadum.
Perhaps meat is a better bet here – there’s a carvery on Sundays – rather than my choices, easier to get right if quality meat is bought.
The website describes the food as homemade, desserts included (chocolate, lemon tart, crumble). But neither dish I had tasted like it was.
What cannot be faulted, however, is the service.
It is exemplary, some of the best to be found in this neck of the woods.
The manager, the sole person on duty, did a truly sterling job of genuine welcoming, order-taking, serving, his skills second to none.
Combined with a charming, friendly manner, this made my visit.
His quiet, easy aproach really makes the place. Just a pity about the food.
My bill came to £15.35, not including a tip.
The Coach House, 98 Fareham Road, Gosport, PO13 0A (01329) 286246. Open 11am–11pm (midnight Fri-Sat) and 12pm–10.30pm Sun.
Disabled access: Perfect.
How to get there: Follow the M27 to Gosport and go off the A27, following the A32. The pub is on the left after Camp Road. There’s a car park.
Ratings (maximum *****)
Food ** Service *****