“ Hatch Warren Lane / Hatch Warren / Basingstoke / Hampshire / RG22 4RA / Tel: 01256 334036. „
Ah, such promise. After being nearly consumed by fire twice, the pub has remained a beacon of hope for the thirsty denizens of Hatch Warren.
However, what with the residents of Brighton Hill having nowhere to go this pub has gone downhill rapidly and shamefully in recent years.
A recent visit produced tasteless, badly kept ales, children sitting at the bar, dirty tables (and indeed chairs) and the staff uninterested and rude.
If you are a car park enthusiast, then by all means make the effort to stop by and take in all of the parking splendour of a gravel surface, plenty of room and fine topiary.
If you are not, then stay at home and insert pencils into your eyes.
I read this on BITE and felt I could no way do better, for goodness sake, it says it all!
This is a repost of an excellent review by the Mightybifkin on BITE
Homemade food pub, pretty average downstairs, but,Ahh, the evenings in the small flat above the Arms, with the fan on and the window open. Funny smells and a video... Good friends and whichever guy she had with her who wasn't her boyfriend.The Portsmouth Arms, such a friendly pub. Good luck with that!
Nice pub, good selection of beer & friendly staff. Food not as good as it used to be but still not bad. Other people in the bar were friendly , we have had good fun especially at the regular quiz night.
This Pub looks lovely and the car park is excellent. Inside it is clean and spacious. The problems start on Friday and Saturday Evenings if it's not warm enough to sit outside. It becomes very crowded in the bar area and a lot of the people are very aggressive, human pit bull types. This means the bar area can be quite intimidating. The bar staff are mainly female and the males there are all very young. In fact the entire staff is very young which attracts a much younger clientele than a real ale pub with a thatched roof might be expected to attract. On off peak times it can be a nice place to be. Just don't eat there. The food and service is atrocious. I have been taken to it to eat a few times and now thankfully all my friends have realised how dire the food is and don't bother with it either.
I went for a meal here recently and took the family, the foor was excellent, the service was O.K. Unfortunately the Portsmouth Arms experience was ruined for us when my son got the wrong main course. I complained politely and it was changed. The Manageress was not very polite and the whole episode seemed needlessly difficult. We probably caught her on a bad day or something. How difficult is it to smile at customers and change a dish?
I'm not rich and a meal out for us all together is a real treat. My wife has recently been made redundant and our family income halved. The little things like a meal together are what memories are made of. The surroundings in the Portsmouth Arms are lovely, it should have been part of a special day. Instead it ruined our day and my son spent the rest of it apologising for having caused a fuss. I spent the rest of it explaining he was not the one who had caused the fuss.
Without doubt the best pub in Basingstoke, polite staff a rareity these days, good beer slightly overpriced and reasonable food
The Portsmouth Arms Public House, Basingstoke
WHERE IS IT?
This is a delightful looking pub situated very close to the M3 (junction 7) in Basingstoke.
The pub was built next to the Hatch Warren estate. The first time it was built, shortly afterwards it caught fire and burnt down. I think it was caused by an electrical fault. The pub was then rebuilt and opened for a second time around July 1997.
As you travel along Cliddesden Lane, you come across The Portsmouth Arms, which has a nice, fairly large, green grass frontage surrounded by a simple wooden fence.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
There is ample parking in their spacious gravel laid car park which is surrounded by small shrubs and trees. The pub's gardens are also very well kept with shrubs and trees.
The pub itself is across from the car park and has a welcoming appearance. Upstairs in the pub are two flats for the staff. The image is of a cottage similar to the 'Snow white And The Seven Drawfs' one in Argos. The roof is thatched and new looking, the outside is painted cream, there are plenty of well kept hanging baskets and the windows are large and dark wood.
There are two main doors at the front of the pub which you get to down brick paved paths. The paths and entrance allow easy access for prams and wheelchairs.
The garden has two patio areas, one at the front and one at the side of the pub. These have very large canvas umbrellas which shelter you from the sun and rain. There are plenty of wooden picnic tables which are in good condition. You can also eat out here.
WHAT'S INSIDE LIKE?
Inside the pub the floor is laid with large grey slabs which give an earthy feel to the place. The tables and chairs are of dark oak. Straight ahead is the bar which has food ordering to the left hand side with a selection of food on blackboards above your head and to the side. There are also menus for you to look at and menus on the tables. You can eat at these tables.
There are many tables in the bar area and there is only one section on the right hand side which allows smoking. This does not seem to cause a problem, but can be quite smoky on a Saturday night. You also have to go through the smoking part to get to one set of toilets.
To the left hand side of the bar is the restaurant eating with plenty of tables. There is room for buggies and wheelchairs, but sometimes when busy this space can be tight. You may ring and reserve a table, but the people dining has to be above 6, so I'm told. Highchairs are also available. There is no smoking in the restaurant.
There's also another set of toilets in this part with two doors to the outside patio seating area.
WHAT'S AT THE BAR?
There is a wide selection of optic spirits and beverages available at the bar, including fridges of bottled beers, fruit juices, and vodka drinks. Bottles of wine are on show. and there's a large range of draught beers and largers. You can also buy a variety of peanuts and crisps.
The bar area is clean and well kept, as is the rest of the pub.
By the food counter you can pick up your knives and forks which are wrapped in red serviettes. You used to be able to get a variety of sauces, but now they have hidden them and you have to ask. Why I don't know, hopefully this will change.
The ladies toilets are clean and well kept with a nice fragrance. Tiles are burgandy bottom and cream ones on top. I'm unsure about the mens as I have not been in there. There are also two sets of disabled toilets and baby change facilities. For some unknown reason they have a separate radio station in the toilets which plays radio 2 or something like that. In the bar the music is more of a pop theme, but not loud. In fact you can hardly hear it during the day.
During the day on the blackboards there is a range of baguettes, sandwiches, puddings and main courses different to the menu. Baguettes come cut in half with a choice of fillings such as tuna and mayo, chicken, ham and cheese, etc. They come with curly fries and salad. Sandwiches come with crisps and salad. There is also a wide variety of jacket potato fillings including bacon, cheese etc. These lunches are priced at around £4.95 each. There is also a specials board with many more appertising dishes.
The jacket potatoes come cut into slices with the topping tipped over the top. This looks well prepared with the accompanying salad and tastes delicious. (Especially the topping with cheese, bacon and mushrooms!)
On the menu itself, there is a starters range with soup, potato wedges, spicy chicken wings, mushroom bruschetta (which is chestnut mushrooms sauteed with garlic and spring onions in a rich cheddar sauce with toasted herb and tomato bread), prawn salad, roast vegetable and goats cheese tart, cornish crab and salmon fishcakes, pate.
The fishcakes are devine and come with yoghurt and herb dip and salad. I have tried many of the other starters and they are just as delicious.
Prices for the starters range from £2.99 for soup to £4.25 for fishcakes.
Main courses, should you prefer the chef's special potato or an alternative choice of potatoes, veggies or salad say when you order. Main courses - they include Gourmet burger (a posh burger with tomato and herb bun), honey roast ham and egg, fish and chips, lemon scented mackerel, vegetarian spinach, mushroom and brie tart, lasagne, chilli chicken tortilla, chicken and ham carbonara, shank of lamb, steak and tanglefoot pie, warm chicken and bacon salad, vegetarian spinach and pasta salad, chicken jalfrezi, sausage and mash, scampi, gammon, sussex smokey - blend of white and smoked fish with spinach and tomatoes in creamy cheese sauce and cheese crumble, tomato and mozzarella chicken, bbq ribs, roast salmon, veggie mediterranean pot and steak.
There are sauces to top off your steak - creamy pepper, red wine, creamy mushroom.
Side orders include chips, salad, garlic bread, onion rings, curly fries, garlic bread with cheese.
They also do starters and main courses suitable for people or children with smaller appetites.
These main meals start at around £4.95 to around £11.95 for a big 340g rump steak.
May choose smaller appetite meals or starters. Also have chicken nuggets, breaded fish shapes or sausages. Served with chips and peas or beans. These meals are £3.75 each.
Puddings start at around £2.29 for 2 scoops of ice cream and go up to around £3.95.
Puddings include sticky toffee pudding, chocolate fudge cake, banoffee pie, rhubarb crumble, apple and suet sponge, chocolate bourbon brownie, ice cream, profiteroles and forest fruit meringue.
There is also a cheese board selection.
Hot drinks range from tea at £1.25 ro liqueue coffee at £3.30. You can also purchase fresh ground coffee, cappuccino, cafe latte, espresso and hot choccy.
PLEASE NOTE: SOME OF THE DISHES MAY CONTAIN NUT TRACES, ASK FOR DETAILS. ALL DISHES ARE FREE FROM GM PRODUCTS.
There is a large selection of wines including white, red, rose, champagne and sparkling wines. These are priced by bottle, 250ml or 175ml. Prices range from £2.70 for a 175ml glass. Joseph perrier cuvee royale is priced at £24.95. (Not to be drunk too often).
A friend has asked me to mention that they no longer do 'cash back' in this pub.
Service is usually very quick with freshly cooked food hot to the table. The food is nicely prepared and laid out well on the plate with a large salad garnish which includes peppers, tomato, cucumber, celery and salad leaves. It has that home cooked feel with dishes on the menu which are a little different to other pubs around the area.
I love the look of the cottage and the feel of the pub is traditional, clean and friendly and well kept.
I frequent this establishment fairly often and enjoy the food and service. I would thouroughly recommend this for a get together with friends or with the family as the garden also has a wooden climbing frame with bark flooring.
Even though I think the childrens menu is fairly limited.
Thanks for reading and I'll have a vodka and coke please.
The Portsmouth Arms
A Hall and Woodhouse Brewery situated off Danebury Road and next to Hatch Warren playing fields. Built on the land owned by Lord Portsmouth and managed by Paul and his excellent team, here's a glimpse into what to expect incase you are around this vicinity and fancy a cold pint of Tanglefoot.
*** How To Get There and Opening Hours *******
Relatively easy. Situated just off the M3 on either junction 6 or 7. Danebury Road is sign posted and just off Cliddesden Lane.
If approaching from junction 6 then after 395 yards take the 2nd exit off the roundabout into A339. ( Basingstoke ). Continue straight up to the Black Dam roundabout and then take the first exit off. At the next roundabout, also take the first exit off into Hackwood Road, continue straight. Turn right into B3046 (Farleigh Road. Turn right onto Woods Lane, keep going straight. After 68 yards take the 1st Exit off the roundabout onto Cliddesden Lane. Turn right onto Hatch Warren Lane and the entrance for the pub is on the right hand side as you approach.
There are no signposts for the pub itself but on approach you cannot miss it. For those driving down and that have a Sat Nav system inside the vehicle, then type in the postcode RG22 4RA.
The pub is 2.9 miles from Basingstoke station and the bus service runs every 10 minutes with a drop off point outside. Look for Stage Coach bus no 1 or 5.
The pub is open 7 days a week and from 7am till midnight. Open over Christmas and New Year and all bank holidays.
**** First Impressions ******
This is a fairly new pub set in a quiet location although still close to town . Desperately trying to take on the characteristics of a "ye olde inn" with its thatched roof and fake wooden beams. The exterior pale yellow walls are clean and graffiti free.
There are two main entrance doors at the front, on the left is the family section and the right takes you into the smoker's area. Though children are allowed in this part, I do not recommend it. Even less space than the lower end and quite often floating in a cloud of nicotine. This section tends to attract the "louder" and more youthful customer.
Once inside the pub is quite dark but the candles on each table add to the ambience and as soon as your eyes adjust, it's actually quite relaxing. With its dark wooden surrounds and tiled floor, the interiour is maintained to a high standard.
However, the tables are situated very close together and when the pub is busy, it can be quite claustrophobic.
*** Getting Served *****
The bar is divided into two sections, one part for food ordering and the other is just for drinks. You cannot order your food and drink together which is very frustrating, but you can set up a tab which is free, rather than paying twice over for food and then your drinks. Just remember to settle your bill before you leave the premises.
You need a table number before you order food and make sure that someone is sitting there whilst ordering. On busy lunch times, I have seen other customers create a fuss before they have sat down at what they presumed was an empty table, only to be told they have to move as food is being delivered there.
Menu's are on every table but the bar food is much cheaper. Desserts are also on the menu and on the chalkboards situated around the family section of the pub.
You can pay by credit card or debit card but cash back is no longer available using debit cards. Electron cards are not accepted. As there is no cash point inside, the nearest point from the pub is the BP garage (turn left from the pub and continue straight, heading back towards junction 6) or Sainsburys (turn right and just off junction 7 near Kempshot round about).
The cutlery is placed near the till and you must help yourself, it will not be brought out to you. Sauces used to be at the till as well but now the wicker basket has disappeared and you have to ask for mayo, vinegar or ketchup. Not sure why the pub has done this, perhaps they are tightening the budget and not being so frugal with the Heinz packets of ketchup. I preferred having the sauces to help yourself as it seems the staff do not appear to thrilled to keep returning back to your table.
*** Food , Glorious Food ****
The menu for the bar food is on the black board right in front of the entrance on the left. This menu hardly ever changes and consists of sandwiches, baguettes or jacket potatoes. This might sound boring but is the quite the opposite. The way the food is presented and the amount you receive is very good value for what you pay.
A sandwich consists of thick slices of wholemeal bread, filled to bursting point with whichever option you choose, with a side salad and crisps. All for £3.95. The white baguette is around 10 inches long and has the filling on the top, with curly fries and salad, all priced at £3.95 again. Then my favourite is the jacket potato, which is £4.95. A varied selection of fillings included but my personal best is the very fattening double cheese, mushroom and bacon. The potatoes are sliced and the cheese just oozes between each section, salad is also served just to make you feel a bit healthy. In the summer the potatoes seem to shrink in size, so don't expect such a good portion but you will get more salad in its place.
If you are ordering a dessert from the chalkboard, I recommend paying and ordering for the bar meal and dessert at the same time if the pub is busy. If you eat your main meal and then order again, you could be waiting up to a further half an hour for your next course. Once again, I must recommend the chocolate and orange sponge pudding with ice cream. You can also have cream or custard but as the pudding is served hot, its more delicious with melted vanilla ice cream over the top. There is a rich sauce on the top, which has a tendency to dribble down onto your t-shirt, be careful if you order this! Desserts vary from around £3.75 to £3.95.
The main menu has the normal starter, main meal and dessert. Just under £5 for a starter, we usually don't bother as this puts an added expense onto your bill. However, if you do give in to temptation, I recommend the mushroom bruschetta.
This is delicious starter of chestnut mushrooms, sautéed with garlic and spring onions, covered in a rich cheddar sauce. As an accompaniment you receive a slice of tomato and herb bread. I am not so keen on the bread but the mushrooms are very appetizing.
With a choice of 8 starters ranging from soup of the day to roast vegetable and goats cheese tart, I am sure there is something to suit all palettes.
For the main meal, there are 23 dishes to choose from with the cheapest dish starting at £6.45 (honey roast ham and egg served with real ale chutney) to £11.95 for 12 oz rump steak at £11.95. This is cooked to order and all meals have a choice of potatoes and vegetables. Sauces for steak are an additional £1.50.
I recommend the warm chicken and bacon salad at £7.95. Marinated in honey and olive oil. Not too heavy , bit like a glorified Caesar salad but quite tasty.
A popular dish at the pub appears to be steak and tanglefoot pie at £7.99. Oven baked to perfection with a short crust pastry topping. Tanglefoot is one of the host ales but as I do not eat steak or drink ale , I cannot comment on this meal, but most of the feedback I hear is positive so you could be onto a winner here.
Other dishes include sweet chicken tortilla with chilli (£8.25), shank of lamb (£10.50), scampi (£7.95) and roast herb salmon (£8.95).
Side orders are a bowl of chips, side salad, garlic bread, onion rings, curly fries and garlic bread with cheese, all priced at £1.75. The chips are a good size and my children enjoy tucking into a bowl occasionally.
Last but not least the deserts. There are 9 offerings of which I am sure you will find something to your liking. All under £5 and a good size portion too. I hate to admit I have worked my way through most of these apart from the profiteroles. This does not look like a substantial pudding to me so I tend to go for forest fruits meringue with ice cream, apple syrup and sponge pudding with custard or rhubarb crumble.
There is a selection of hot drinks at under £3. Tea is £1.25 however. Forget the calories and have a hot chocolate, but make sure the foam doesn't end up on your nose and the sprinkles do not re home themselves in the corner of your mouth.
*** Children's Meals ****
There is a small selection of children's meals all served with chips but at £3.99 each and no toy, the children are far from excited to be eating here. Drinks are also extra.
The pub likes to encourage customers to buy an adult meal but at "small appetite" prices for children. To be honest at just a couple of pounds less than an adult meal but a much smaller size, I refuse to pay this. My children enjoy jacket potatoes so will have one each, this with a drink costs £6. This I feel is far better value for money.
*** Cheers ******
With all this food, a drink is in order I feel. Far too many for me list. There is a good selection of wines, ranging from £10 upwards for a bottle to just under £3 for a glass. Champagne will cost you £24.95.
Unfortunately I am not one to sit in the corner with a gin and slim line tonic nibbling on a packet of honey roasted. I like a pint of lager and I am not ashamed to admit it. On a hot day, a chilled to perfection pint of Stella Artois glides down the throat superbly. Stella has increased quite rapidly in price and is now £2.95 a pint, quite a rip off to the consumer as you can buy a pack of 12 for £10 in the local supermarket. I begrudge paying such extortionate prices so try to limit our visits. Local ales are Badger and Tanglefoot.
Most sprits and mixers are £2.50 as is a large diet coke. Children's drinks are charged at normal rate , i.e. lemonade, J20 etc. However if you purchase the Five Alive cordial which comes in a handy plastic sports bottle, that's £2. My children refuse to drink this as it's not chilled, just straight off the shelf. A round of drinks with three children and two adults costs just under £20 a time, not a cheap afternoon out by the time you leave.
*** Toilets and Baby Changing *****
There are two toilets, one block in the smoker's section near the fruit machine and the other in the family end, near to the garden. Both are clean and tidy apart from late Saturday night when it appears the ladies seem to have trouble judging where the pan is.
The disabled toilet and baby-changing unit is also by the family section but you need to get a key to gain access. Ask behind the bar if you need this facility.
*** Disabled Access ****
From what I can see there are no special provisions in force but wheelchair users should be able to manoeuvre quite easily inside. I wouldn't recommend coming here on busy nights such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday as the lack of space is quite claustrophobic. Also the floor becomes very slippery with customers spilling pints so be careful on the tiles. Weather permitting aim to sit outside in the garden as it's all on one level anyway.
Ample parking and free to use. Approach slowly as the gravel drive is a nightmare and your vehicle will loose grip and spin if you drive too fast. Surrounded by hedges, be careful when leaving late at night as this area is quite dark and isolated.
*** Playground and Garden ****
A very large and well-maintained garden, with fencing all round to keep the little ones in but still out of the bushes. Various wooden bench seats scattered about with parasols. These are not weighted down and could take off in windy conditions, which we found out on one occasion. None of us could rescue it for laughing at the time but if it had hit a fellow customer then maybe not so funny after all.
The children have a play area with a large wooden climbing frame, slide and a swing. It resembles a fortress and the children play here for hours. There is a sawdust bedding for safety but this does get inside trainers and sandals, so be prepared for a pile on your carpet when you reach home.
*** Dogs ***
Dogs are welcomed in the garden and there is an outside tap and plastic bowl for water for your canine friend. Dogs must remain on leads though and any mess cleared.
** Entertainment **
Apart from a bit of piped background music, there is none, you make your own. On Sunday evenings they have a quiz night and on New Years Eve they have a DJ
I feel this is something they really need to improve on. However due to the close proximity of the housing estate and lack of space inside the pub I cannot see how this could be introduced without adding an extension to the pub. . More emphasis is placed on dining than providing entertainment for a night.
If you enjoy modern music then take a tip from me and sit near the kitchens. When the door is opened there is great selection of songs coming from inside.
** To Conclude ****
Though rather expensive especially if you have a large family, The Portsmouth Arms is a good local pub with good quality food and ales. I use the pub because it is local to me but personally I wouldn't travel miles out of my way just to come here If you are passing through, then it is ideal for a drink and a bite to eat.
Both in the winter and summer, on Saturday and Sunday nights inside the pub are incredibly busy and I avoid it at all costs if I have the children with me. The garden becomes full quite quickly in the summer evenings so it's best to get there before 4 pm if you want a seat. With its very friendly atmosphere, it has to be one of the best pubs in the Hatch Warren area, just don't over do it with the alcohol, your wallet will regret it in the morning.
There is no website attached to the pub. However if you go to www.beerintheevening.com, there is a link on here and some further reviews from customers. Also on www.activityforum.co.uk/clubs there is a social club notice for the pub.