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|Address:||Hollington Cross, Andover Road, Highclere, Hampshire RG20 9SE|
|Price: £40.00||Wine: £11.95||Champagne: £29.95|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-3pm 6-10pm Sun 12N-4pm 7-9pm|
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My memory of Mirabelle’s under MPW many years ago was of a variable experience which coincides with yesterday at The Yew Tree. I’d heard hit and miss reports so kept an open mind.
Judging from the noise generated by staff, the kitchen was a far livelier place than the peaceful music-free dining area – enactment going on Marco style perhaps. Some kind of chef initiation ceremony we were told, which was not reassuring for two hungry people waiting in an otherwise empty dining space. Further off-putting, we could hear someone with a rasping cough who I hoped was nowhere near the food.
The meal was a mosaic of standards except for a starter of quail’s eggs on mushroom duxelle with a delicate coating of hollandaise – more Michelin than pub grub. Everything else was kind of OK. As pies were recommended as “the thing to have” they had to be ordered. If this was their showcase stuff, then should we be slightly worried about the other dishes I wondered, given that the steak content of mine was a little gristly, the pastry seemed a cross breed of hot-water and shortcrust and the gravy had soaked into it – not sure whether this was intentional or not. So 2/10 for thin meat juice also lacking depth of flavour. And am I out-dated with my yearning for crisp golden pie top, or is soggy the latest pastry trend – though strangely the pie wasn’t awful. A side of cauliflower cheese was not helped by vegetable water left to liaise with the sauce saved only by nicely gratinated powerful cheese. Creamed spinach had an injection of mustard that went well with the steak; peas were perfect, but chips forgettable.
We were presented with an interesting list of wines and the manager recommended a very quaffable bottle of Lebanese red called Kefraya, and this is the reason I swayed to a score of 6 (instead of 5) for food’n drink.
Not a great example of the gastro-pub and the menu could easily have lost out-of-season choices such as asparagus without detriment. Service was quite acceptable. A better standard expected for the price (& name on the door). Should they do something about acoustics too?