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The Bosham Inn (Chichester)

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Address: Main Road / Bosham / Chichester / PO18 8PW / Tel: 01243 575027

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      07.04.2012 09:48
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      Good value steak night meal from a Vintage Inn in a most plesant setting

      The Bosham Inn is a pub located in a small village near Chichester in West Sussex. I have no idea why it's called The Bosham Inn, as it's actually in nearby Chidham and not Bosham. However, I suspect that Bosham is better known than Chidham hence the name (and it is very close to Bosham). The Bosham Inn is part of the Vintage Inns chain, and although I had dined in a Vintage Inn once before (last October at The Oystercatcher in Climping), I wasn't that impressed with the fayre on offer. I'm not a massive fan of chain restaurants, as the food tends to be mass produced and often reheated by microwave. However, we thought that we'd give the Bosham Inn a try as it's the nearest to a "local" that we have, and we hadn't eaten there for years.



      ~*~ THE BUILDING ~*~

      The Bosham Inn is an imposing building by the side of busy main road. Evidently the building used to be the vicarage for the parish of Chidham...and all I can say is that the poor vicar must have had a job and half heating the place as it's massive. Once the vicar had moved to something smaller, cosier and no doubt cheaper to run, the building became a hotel. I've lived in the area for 16 years, and I can only remember the place as a pub. Previous incarnations of the building have seen it as part of Whitbread's Beefeater chain, and before that it was part of the Out and Out pub chain.

      The Bosham Inn looks very neat and tidy from the outside and is complimented by a large car park and a huge sweeping stretch of lawn to the front and sides. The gardens are delightful with plenty of tables and chairs to sit at as well as a colourful and popular children's play area. If you want have your drink away from the screaming children, there are both lawned and decked areas to the side of the pub. However, the road noise may be a little intrusive here as the A259 runs alongside the pub and despite the addition of the A27, the older A259 road between Chichester and Havant is still very busy.

      Although it's pub, The Bosham Inn is definitely geared towards food. You can have a quick drink, but the emphasis is definitely on eating. On the evening we ate there, the restaurant was at least 80% full with most of the drinkers in the bar area having an aperitif before their meal rather than just a drink.

      The interior of the pub is very, very dim, but still welcoming and nicely done. The over-riding tones are deep burgundy, gold and brown. There are lots of dark wooden beams and very low lighting. Scattered throughout the building are comfy chairs and leather sofas, which tends to put one in mind of an old-fashioned gentleman's club, but with a modern, comfier twist. In the winter there's a wood burning stove to create a warming welcome to the centre of the dining area. As I said, the interior was very, very dim and housed plenty of hidden alcoves for a quiet or romantic meal for two. There were, of course, plenty of larger tables for family or group dining as well. The Bosham Inn seems to cater for everyone, couples, families and groups.



      ~*~ THE FOOD ~*~

      The pub offers both an extensive à la carte lunch and dinner menu, as well as a special children's menu. The menu is typical pub fayre - steaks, pies, burgers, fish and chips and so on. There is plenty of choice for everyone, with vegetarian options well highlighted.

      Starters tend to include popular favourites like prawn cocktail, deep-fried mushrooms and soup, with more intriguing choices being calamari, scallops or tiger prawns. If you're dining in a group you can partake in "Sharers" - large platters of treats made to share. There's a choice of Mezze (Turkish/Greek themed titbits), Frito Misto (deep fried seafood) or simply a Tasting Platter (cheese, pate and bread). Prices range from £3.00 up to £6.45 with the "Sharers" starting at £9.95.

      There are nearly 30 different main courses on offer so there's plenty to tempt even the most jaded of palates. Perennial favourites like steaks, burgers, scampi and pies feature heavily as you'd expect. There are some more interesting sounding dishes if you'd like to escape from traditional British pub grub and try something different. How about trying Duck Leg Confit or Piri-Piri Chicken? There is also a dish of Braised Pork Belly or Grilled Venison Steaks. Costs of main courses range from a very reasonable £7.25 up to £16.45 - and this includes all your dish accompaniments - be it vegetables, salad and /or potatoes.

      After your meal, your waiter or waitress will no doubt try and tempt you to a dessert with a small blackboard left on your table with a chalked up range of tempting sounding desserts. Prices here range from £3.95 up to £5.95. Old favourites like Profiteroles, Treacle Tart and Apple Pie are on offer as well as more imaginative fayre such as Eton Mess and Banoffee Cheesecake.

      In addition to the à la carte lunch and dinner menu, The Bosham Inn often has special meal deals running. Currently there's a fixed price menu served until 5pm Monday to Saturday, which offers one course for £6, two courses for £8 and three courses for £12 - very good value indeed. Wednesday nights at The Bosham Inn is Steak Night, where they offer two main courses and a bottle of wine for £29.95...and that's where we headed last Wednesday.



      ~*~ OUR MEAL ~*~

      My partner insisted on shouting "Steak Night" ** at the top of his voice several times in the car as we approached The Bosham Inn. Once he'd calmed down, I decided it was safe to enter, but only after he solemnly promised not to do it again inside the pub :o)

      The Steak Night offer consists of two main courses and a bottle of red or white wine for £29.95. You can choose from either Rump Steak, Sirloin Steak, Chargrilled Chicken or Mixed Grill. The wines on offer are a red Zinfandel or a white Chardonnay.

      As we were on a cheapie meal deal, we decided to forgo starters, though you can have them if you so wish. We headed straight for the main event - the meat feast on offer. I choose a Mixed Grill (normally retailing at £14.25) and my partner went for the 8oz Rump Steak (usual price £9.95).

      The Rump Steak was allegedly 8oz and came served with beer battered onion rings, tomato, peas and chunky chips. Despite being very tasty, the steak was very tiny indeed and looked more like a 6oz one. He'd also asked for it to be cooked rare and it was served medium rare. He did enjoy his steak, but I suspect he'd rather have had a mixed grill instead as it was a larger portion and much better value for money.

      The Mixed Grill consisted of rump steak, sweetcure bacon, fried egg, lamb cutlet, black pudding, white pudding, sausage, roast mushroom, tomato, chunky chips and peas. I must say that it was veritable plateful and then some. I did notice a rather strange smell emanating from the plate as it was put in front of me, but put it down to either the black or white pudding. However, after eating both versions of the pudding, the smell still lingered. I eventually realised that the off-putting, rather gamey smell was coming from the lamb cutlet. This was quite alarming, as I had already taken two large bites out of it (I must say that it tasted fine). I passed the remainder of the lamb chop to my partner for a scratch and sniff test, and he recoiled in disgust at its stench. He confirmed that it was well and truly past its sell-by-date and was only fit for the bin. After his pronouncement, I failed to finish what was left on my plate....which wasn't a great deal I must admit. When the waitress came to collect our empty plates, we alerted her to the offending lamb cutlet - now sitting forlornly on a napkin in the centre of the table. She declined to do her own scratch and sniff test, announcing that she thought she could smell it already. We suggested she took it back to the chef and asked him to check it. Upon her return she said he had failed to find a problem with it, but that one of the other waitresses had agreed that it stunk. I suspect either the chef has non-functioning olfactory glands, or he was simply covering his back with regards to the freshness of the contents of his fridge. Either way, the waitress thanked us for pointing it out to them and offered us a free dessert as compensation, which we were more than happy to accept. I thought our complaint was handled in a most professional and courteous manner, despite the chef not agreeing with our pronouncement.

      Later the waitress came back with a small chalk blackboard with the dessert selection, which was left on the table to tempt us into submission. We ordered a Banoffee Cheesecake and one of my favourites Eton Mess (so named as it has been traditionally served for many decades at Eton College's annual cricket match against Winchester College). The Banoffee Cheesecake was very tasty indeed - creamy and rich. You could really taste the bananas and cream in it. However, the Eton Mess was even better in my opinion. For those of you unaware of this heavenly concoction, it consists of crushed meringues, cream and strawberries blended together in, quite literally, a mess! The Bosham Inn version also included strawberry mousse alongside the traditional ingredients and it came served in a tall wide glass. It was a more then generous portion, and despite the meringue not being homemade (it was far too white for that!), it was simply delicious.



      ~*~ BEVERAGES ~*~

      The Bosham Inn offers a full range of lagers and bitters with real ale lovers being able to sample a couple of ales from the local Ringwood Brewery, or Timothy Taylor's Landlord. Most of the wines are sold by the bottle or glass, with a good range from all around the world. My partner chose an Italian Catarratto Chardonnay to have with his meal. I'm not a great lover of wine, so I decided to have a PimPom off the Vintage Inns Best of British drinks menu. I love Pimm's so when I spotted a new recipe I was eager to try it. A PimPom (£3.55) consists of Pimm's and pomegranate cordial topped up with soda and garnished with strawberries, orange and mint. The Best of British food and drinks menu seems to be on offer throughout the Vintage Inns in the UK, but I suspect that I must have been the only person to have ordered a PimPom at The Bosham Inn as it seemed to throw them. Two separate servers asked me if my drink was OK, so I'm guessing they weren't sure they'd got the mix of Pimm's, soda and pomegranate cordial quite right. It tasted fine to me, and although it was a bit light on any pomegranate favours and it wasn't very fizzy, it was palatable enough. I'm not so sure I'd order it again; I think I'd stick to a classic Pimm's next time (Pimm's with lemonade, cucumber, mint, strawberries, orange).



      ~*~ THE SERVICE ~*~

      We didn't linger in the bar area when we arrived, but went straight through to the dining area to enquire about a table for two. We hadn't booked so we weren't sure whether we'd need to wait in the bar first. Luckily, we were ushered straight into the restaurant and offered a choice of tables. We chose the second one, which had a nice view overlooking the garden, but quickly moved back to first choice near the bar, as there was a rather noisy family with misbehaving kids near the first table. Sorry, but loud parents and shrieking children are not my idea of a pleasant accompaniment to a night out.

      As soon as we were seated, we placed our drinks order and these arrived quickly and efficiently. The server also informed us that there was slight delay on food service that evening due to staff shortages. I think she must have meant they were short-staffed in the kitchen as there were plenty of waiting staff flitting about.

      The service was friendly and the wait for our food not too long at all. The restaurant was about 80% full and everyone seemed to receive their food in a good and timely manner despite their warnings of delays.



      ~*~ RECOMMENDATION? ~*~

      Despite my rancid lamb cutlet and a rather small rump steak, I haven't been put off a return visit to The Bosham Inn. I thought that the Steak Night offer was good value and the portions reasonable. Our meal came to £38.75 for two main courses, two desserts, a bottle of wine and a drink - which I definitely think is good value for money.

      The handling of our complaint was done very well, and we were more than happy to receive a free dessert as compensation. I suffered no ill effects from partially eating the lamb chop, for which I was, of course, very grateful!

      The Bosham Inn gets four stars from me - it should really be three and a half but I've rounded it up to four. Despite the fetid chop, our meal at The Bosham Inn was good value, we felt welcomed, and we will no doubt return at some stage. I must say that the handling of our complaint and the service in general was a real credit to the place.

      Recommended....but maybe avoid the lamb!



      ~*~ FURTHER DETAILS ~*~

      The pub is very easy to find as it's just off the A259 - a busy main road running between Chichester and Havant. From the pub, it's just a short drive into the picturesque village of Bosham. I'd say that The Bosham Inn is an ideal venue for lunch or a drink, followed by a wander around Bosham, which houses an ancient church, a craft centre and quaint waterside cottages. If you are interested you can read all about Bosham itself in my review entitled "Time and tide wait for no man" at http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/destinations-national/bosham-village/1016963/

      The Bosham Inn is part of the Vintage Inn chain, a UK wide collection of traditional country pubs / restaurants. The Vintage Inn chain is owned and run by Mitchells and Butlers Plc, a massive catering company who operate around 2,000 outlets throughout the UK (mostly pubs or pub restaurants). Their portfolio of different brands includes Toby Carveries, Harvester Inns, Browns, All Bar One, Crown Carveries, Innkeeper's Lodge, O'Neills, Ember Inns and other lesser known names.

      The Bosham Inn
      Main Road
      Chidham
      West Sussex
      PO18 8PW

      Telephone No: 01243-575027

      Website: www.vintageinn.co.uk/theboshaminnchiches​ter or Vintage Inn's own website at http://www.vintageinn.co.uk

      - Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 11am to 11pm and Sundays 11am to 10:30pm
      - The ground floor toilets were clean and tidy when inspected, but quite narrow so they may be a problem for the infirm to manoeuvre about in
      - All major credit cards are accepted
      - The dress code is very relaxed and informal

      ** In case you were wondering if my partner is not in possession of a full canteen of cutlery, I can assure you that he is....most of the time. The shouting out of "Steak Night" is from the US comedy series "Scrubs", where in one episode two of the main characters Turk and J.D. shout out "Steak Night" followed by their song -"We're going to steak night. We're going to eat it right. Steak is such a treat. It is the world's best meat!"

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