The Rusty Cutter, part of Whitbread’s Beefeater empire, is a popular haunt on a Saturday if the early evening crowds converging on it are anything to go by.
Perched by the A27 and close to the A3(M), the site is shared by Premier Inns, a Whitbread-owned business and the biggest hotel chain in the UK.
First impressions were not brilliant though. The entrance looked like it needed a paint, while the interior looked more 1970s brown than 2012 light and bright.
‘The contemporary décor of browns and creams works lovely with the new furniture’ declares the blurb on pubexplorer.com.
That decor includes sludge green-brown curtains, striped brown carpets, vast brown hanging shades, brown tables and brown wood dividers with etched glass between booths.
Being seated by the loos didn’t help either, while the staff were full of corporate-speak. Saying ‘how are you today?’ without really finding out or caring is a no-no, as is ‘I am xxx and I’m your server today. Can I get you a drink?’ before you even sit down.
Then I was asked twice if I wished to sign up for a Rewards Club card. Too much hard sell.
The menu is Anywheresville-friendly, including nachos, dipping breads, garlic breaded mushrooms, battered prawns and potato skins.
Then try 21-day aged grass-fed beef as sirloin, rump, rib, fillet, rib on the bone or 16 oz steak platter.
There are other headings to look under too – grills, burgers, pastas and salads including ribs. Chicken is used in many dishes (salad, risotto, pasta) and there’s a sweet pepper tart.
Come before 6.30pm for a cheaper meal or Evening Value Menu (2 courses £11.29 after 6.30pm Mon-Thurs) or Daytime Value Menu at £4.99–£9.99 before 6.30pm,
My choice – well, it had to beef, didn’t it? – was a sirloin steak with ‘speciality butter’ (with onion, herb, mustard), plus mushroom, tomato and ‘bottomless chips.’
The beef was tasty and cooked to a proper medium-rare, but the butter had only dried herbs in and was pretty unpleasant. The mushroom and tomato were decently cooked. And those bottomless chips? Served in a medium-sized white pot on Beefeater print paper, they were good and crisp and even, the ketchup properly served in a dish, not sachet.
My server checked throughout my meal, offering more bottomless chips. Tables around me were constantly being asked for more drink orders.
I didn’t have one of the desserts (profiteroles, chocolate cake, fudge brownie, waffle, sundaes), but did have a Costa espresso (‘not a double for you?’), my bill coming to just over £14 including a pleasing Wolf Blass Shiraz but not a tip (though one was left).
There’s no doubting the politeness of the staff and their hard-working ethos, but do they last the course with all that hard sell learned from the company handbook?
Rusty Cutter, 65 Bedhampton Hill Road, Bedhampton, Havant PO9 3JN
(023) 9247 2619.
Open: Noon–11pm Mon-Sat, noon–10.30pm Sun
Food: Three (out of Five)
Service: Two (nice people, pity about the hard sell)
Disabled access: Excellent
How to get there: Exit at junction 5 of the A27 on to the A3(M) and take the B2149 to Bedhampton Hill Road, Premier Inn and the Beefeater are on the left up a dead-end road. Large car park. Decked outside area.