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The Horse Guards Inn – Tillington

As you all know by now, the Man and the Dog spend a lot of time between the Isle of Wight and London. This means that we spend a lot of time on the M25 and the A3. This also means we spend a lot of time in traffic jams.

If we are ever lucky enough to be forewarned of trouble ahead, we have on occasion diverted our path and braved the ‘b’ roads of West Sussex. This generally leads to an even longer journey, but at least we’re not spending all our time in stationary traffic. The other advantage is that by diverting from the beaten path you do sometimes discover things you didn’t know were there. Little gems. Gems that you would have missed forever if you’d stuck to your usual route.

One such gem that we’ve recently found is The Horse Guards Inn in Tillington.

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Set in a quiet little back road opposite the quintessential village church, this is not a place you find easily, but once you do, you’re never going to forget it!

If you happen to visit at a time when the weather is being kind then there is a wonderful pub garden.

If, however, the weather is being typically British, then enjoy the beautiful interior instead (but booking ahead is advised).

What you must certainly do is try the food. The first time we visited it was meant to be a stop off, just for a quick drink and a break from driving. However, once we saw the menu and blackboard of local suppliers, a light lunch could not be avoided; I chose a venison burger from the herd at Petworth Park around the corner, and Hannah had an incredibly delicious crab linguine. Once we had tasted the food, a return trip was duly booked in for a proper full on nosh up!

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On the second occasion, we brought along the in-laws as we knew they’d love the place too (they did). And as always with those two in tow, it led to an amusing story.

On entering and being shown to our table I remarked how familiar the waitress looked. A number of times I wondered aloud if she was an actress. Several times I enquired if she was the girl who starred in Foyle’s War. Despite these constant pleas for help in discovering why she looked so familiar, it wasn’t until dessert orders were being taken that my fellow dining companions suddenly noticed that the waitress looked familiar. ‘Is she an actress?’ they all asked. Realising that I had been ignored for the entire meal (and probably for the last 20 years, in all honesty), I exclaimed that I’d been saying that she was the actress from Foyle’s War for the past hour! At that point a neighbouring diner on an opposite table piped up that it wasn’t actually her (Honeysuckle Weeks) it was in fact her younger sister (Perdita Weeks), who is also an actress.

This intervention was very welcome as it helped to solve the mystery, but also made us wonder how much of our conversation for the last hour had the entire room been earwigging in to!

Anyway, it then happened that a few weeks later we saw Perdita on the old tellybox in an episode of Grantchester, which just so happens to be written by our very good friend Daisy Coulam!

So what do you think of that then? Small old flipping world isn’t it?

I can’t guarantee that when you visit you will be served by someone off the telly, but if you are, at least you now don’t have to rely on earwigging neighbouring tables to set you straight. You can just concentrate on enjoying your time at this fantastic pub.

 

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Get your eyes off my beer Grenson!

The Man and the Dog.

 

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Dog Friendly, dog friendly pubs, Isle of Wight, pubs for dogs, the dog blog

The Portland Inn – Isle of Wight

Weekends are great. Of course weekends are great. Everyone loves weekends. And what part of the weekend does everyone love the most? Yes that’s right. You’ve got it. Sundays. Lovely long lazy Sundays. And the single most important thing that makes Sundays so great? Why of course it’s the holy, venerable, magnificent… Sunday roast. Where would the world be without the Sunday roast?

I love a Sunday roast.

When first introduced to my in-laws, many, many moons ago, the number one culinary shock for this boy from the Black Country has to have been Taramasalata:

‘Ar, they gid me some pink stuff called tarasatomata, I think it wuz fish eggs! It wuz bostin tho, fair play.’

But a close second was the revelation that they didn’t ALWAYS have a roast on a Sunday. Sometimes they just had a normal dinner! I mean, how crazy is that? Surely that way madness lies? How is anyone supposed to know what day it is? When does one week end and the next begin?

As a result, whenever I get a chance I try to remedy this lunacy by suggesting that we incorporate a pub roast into our Sundays when I’m hanging with the in-laws on the Island of Love, a.k.a the Isle of Wight.

A few weeks back, after a lovely walk in Parkhurst Forest, we settled on the Portland Inn in Gurnard for my Sunday roast fix.

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We chose this pub because we’d driven past it recently and spotted that it had been given a bit of a makeover. Obviously someone had decided to show it a bit of love, and it’s always good to support that kind of thing.  The other reason, (blatant ‘shout out’ alert!), was that we’d heard that they were displaying and selling art work on the walls by En Brogue‘s cousin The Wight Pencil. If they’re supporting ‘da family’ then we can at least eat their roast.

Inside, the place was buzzing. Clearly in a short space of time they’d already begun to generate a good rep. We were shown to our table and Grenson made himself comfortable.

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The mother-in-law was impressed straight off the bat by the fact that they offered a smaller plate for £9. She has a very small appetite, which generally sees her ordering starters instead of mains…then of course, hovering over everyone else’s main for a little taster once her starter is devoured.

She once ordered a child’s Sunday roast and confidently proclaimed ‘If I’m still hungry I could always try a little bit from all of yours’; as she said this and looked around the table for signs of acquiescence to the deal, she locked eyes with me. I steadily and calmly informed her that ‘If you try to take anything from my plate I will stab you in the hand with my fork’. I was very ‘hangry’ at the time, and as I have made clear, I do like my Sunday roast…our relationship has never been the same since, sorry Mother-in-law you’re the best…just don’t try to touch my food!

Anyway, for me it was obviously going to be the full size £12 version, and when it arrived at the table, holy flip, it was a work of pure genius!

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Now, I’m pretty good at cooking a pork dinner, even if I do say so myself. But you don’t have to just take my word for it. My dad claims that the pork roast I once made for him was ‘really good, the best he’s ever had’. To put this praise into context my dad’s usual level of critique for any meal ranges from ‘it was alright’ to ‘it was alright’. If you listen carefully there is a slight difference.

So I know a good pork dinner when I see one and this was a good pork dinner. Generous servings of pork with a very agreeable amount of crunchy crackling, parsnips (which I’m not that keen on usually but these were good), fantastic fluffy potatoes and lashings of gravy ( I do like a lot of gravy, fill the boat up, don’t be stingy). Then on the side, red and green cabbage, cauliflower cheese and those lovely little carrots you only really get with a pub lunch. There was no way anyone was going to be leaving this table anything less than full to the brim.

Oh, and just take a look at those Yorkshires! Take a second or two to really appreciate their beauty. That is pleasure on a plate right there! That, my friends, IS Sunday! If only there really were such a thing as a month of Sundays. What a dream scenario? I could have this for lunch every day for a month!!

But do not fear. Whatever day you’re reading this you can be sure that you’re not far away from a Sunday. That’s the beauty of them: you get one every week. So no excuses. Gather the family, put your walking boots on and loosen your belts, then head to the Portland for ‘the best pub Sunday roast ever’ – En Brogue’s verdict – and you may even feel like picking up some art whilst you’re there.

Just remember, if you see me there tucking into a roast…don’t try to take any of my food!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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Mac & Wild – Great Titchfield St

As you probably already know, Grenson’s mum doesn’t only spend her days making delicious meatloaf for his dinner and smothering him with kisses, oh no; she also finds the time to be a super successful fashion journalist whilst also being the flat shoe blogging sensation, En Brogue. As a result, most weeks she can be found heading off up west to meet up with other fashionistas to assess the latest trends, and basically just swank around town looking grand (apparently it’s all in the name of research?!).

On one such occasion recently, I decided enough was enough, it was high time that Grenson and I got in on this game too.

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From the look on Grenson’s face in this picture you can tell that he wasn’t entirely happy with the idea. For a start, it meant we had to go on a train (which he’s not too keen on) and secondly, I had neglected to put him in his fanciest coat! ‘Really darling how do you expect me to socialise with the fashion crowd without my best clobber on?’

So after a few appointments, including one that Grenson and I had been personally invited  to (see we’re cool too!), for a look at White Stuff’s new SS17 collection which I can confirm is very nice indeed, it was decided that we’d stop for lunch and then take a walk around Regent’s Park whilst En Brogue finished off the rest of her ‘to do’ list.

But where should we go for lunch? There is of course a wealth of choice in the big city. Luckily for us, we managed to stumble across a place that happened to be described as “the best restaurant in the world” by Giles Coren, no less (if their website is to be believed).

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Mac and Wild is a Scottish restaurant (yes I know! I didn’t know that was a thing now either). The only Scottish restaurant I’d encountered previously was that one that has a clown serving burgers … at least it sounds Scottish anyway.

We bagged a table outside as the weather was unseasonably mild and waited for a menu that I expected to consist entirely of haggis and battered chocolate bars.

What a fool I was! I hadn’t realised that I’d accidentally entered a meat nirvana. There was even a burger on the menu that had been voted the ‘Best Burger in the UK 2016’ at the National Burger Awards!! (yes I know! I didn’t know that was a thing now either)

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It’s fair to say that if you’re a veggie, this may not be the best place for you to visit. If, however, you’re the type of person that appreciates dishes such as ‘bread & dripping’, ‘venison chateaubriand’ and ‘dirty buttery mash’, and you also appreciate knowing not only where your meat has been farmed, but also who butchered it and even who shot it, then you’ve come to the right place.

The meatiness shouldn’t be a surprise; the guy who founded this place, Andy Waugh, is the son of a venison butcher, hence the concentration on fine wild venison dishes. A lot of us Brits have never tried wild venison and I have to admit that the thought of hunting those magnificent beasts may have put me off in the past. But this isn’t some trophy hunter wanting to feel big by shooting  a defenceless animal and posing for photos. If you read Andy’s blog on the Mac and Wild website, you realise that this is all done ethically, based on a yearly cull to keep numbers manageable and healthy for themselves and the environment. Also, if we don’t eat it then the Norwegians and Dutch will, as they currently buy up nearly all of it.

As already mentioned, the award winning ‘Veni-Moo burger’ had immediately caught my eye, so I ordered that along with cheesy chips and a Brewgooder Clean Water Lager, which is a craft beer that donates 100% of its profits to clean water projects around the world (so you can get drunk and do your bit for charity at the same time! Bonus!).

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Oh Em Gee!

You could really understand why this burger was award winning. But to be honest, I’d also give those fries and the cheesy dip an award too…Nobel Peace maybe?!

I hadn’t thought of it as we had enjoyed our mighty fine bounty sitting outside, but while writing this post I became a little worried that dogs may not have been allowed indoors. This would have been a disaster as I aim to try not to include anywhere on here that you can only enjoy with your pooch if the weather allows, and having to leave out this place would have been a travesty. Luckily, they confirmed via email that small dogs are indeed allowed indoors (it is, after all, a very small indoors, so a Mastiff for instance may actually fill the place!). I shouldn’t have really worried, as there were telltale signs that the place was a fan of our four-legged friends – mainly the door stop.

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So there you go. If you find yourself on a fashionable day out in central London and in need of an award winning Scottish meal, then look no further. And I suppose if you do have a dog that couldn’t accurately be described as ‘small’ you could always follow our example and sit outside. They did seem to have blankets on offer and there are outside heaters. If all else fails you could warm yourself up with a whisky, and where better to do that than in a Scottish restaurant?!

 

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

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The Gladstone – Borough

I have a confession to make. Our visit to the Gladstone in Borough actually happened a pleasant lunchtime in the distant past. There was no hint of Summer back then, not even a whiff of Spring. So why wait this long to write the post I hear you cry out in confusion? Well basically I forgot something. Something very important. Upon leaving I forgot to take this picture…

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… I know! Stupid, eh! How can you write about the Gladstone and miss out this fantastic painting on the side of the building? Without that giant piece of art most people would innocently walk on by and ignore this great little pub hidden down the back alleys of Borough.

In my defense I completely blame the pub and its tempting lunchtime deals. I had entered with the aim of a nice quiet lunchtime pint. Just the one to ease the soul after a walk around nearby Borough Market. My eye was then caught by the lunch deal of pie, mash, peas and gravy, plus a pint of real ale (wine, Becks or soft drinks for you none ale drinkers) for £9.95. Well, I wasn’t going to resist an offer like that, was I?

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So with a full belly and 100% more ale in me than I had planned, is it any wonder that I forgot to take photos when leaving?

This fantastic deal isn’t the only reason to visit this pub. It’s simply great. A real musical legend in the area – check out their live listings. You have a high chance of stumbling across an amazing new live act here, and catching them when they are basically giving you a private performance in your living room. That’s what it feels like, as the main bar is so small and cosy. An evening in here with a pieminister pie in your belly, a few pints of ale and top quality music, all delivered in a small candle lit atmosphere…heaven.

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Due to this bijoux character, you may find it a bit difficult during a busy evening if you bring along a big dog, (or even a little dog like Grenson when he’s in his ‘I’m going to stand as far away from you as possible and in the exact spot that ensures that everyone is going to stand on me’ attitude). However, there is an upstairs seating area and a roof terrace for the Summer months, there are chairs outside too, so I’m sure you could make it work. I’m also duty bound to point out that there is a pub cat! We didn’t see it on our visit but if your dog lives up to stereotype then be warned.

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Personally I prefer to visit during the day when, if you’re lucky, you can get the place to yourself and really appreciate the laid back style of this bar. Just be careful not to get a little too comfortable. The other downside to my extra pint, other than forgetfulness, was a full bladder. This is a difficult thing to deal with when it’s just you and your pooch. Grenson was also still at the stage where he would eat EVERYTHING he found on the floor (now it’s just 80%). This would not be a good thing in a men’s urinal. Luckily, as I was about to bite the bullet the  very kind barmaid saw me struggling to the gents and offered to hold him for me (the dog! stop making up your own jokes you filthy minded people at the back!).

I fully expected Grenson to be blissfully enjoying the company of his new female admirer when I returned. But to my surprise he was straining at his lead and crying for me, thinking that I’d left him. Bless him. He does love me after all!

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Well … he did then anyway, nowadays he’ll stay with anyone so long as they have treats.

So there you have it. Better late than never. The Gladstone. Fantastic live music, real ale, lunch deals, pies, art, cool decor and the possibility of bouts of forgetfulness.

Love it.

The Man and the Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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