“ Address: The Yorkshireman, Colton Road, Colton, WS15 3HB / Tel: 01889 583977 „
When we visited The Yorkshireman Pub in Staffordshire, I went with high expectations. It has an impressive modern-looking website and looked like a well-run establishment. This has reminded me once again that glossy websites do not necessarily make for a good night out.
The pub is located just outside the small town of Rugeley, and is opposite Rugeley Trent Valley station on the West Coast Mainline. It is a small pub, and the car park and miniscule garden reflect this. There are in fact only around 15 tables for dining in the pub divided between a small bar area and a larger dining area at the rear. The contemporary-looking website is not reflected in the décor. It is what one might term to be a 70's revival of a Victorian parlour. The green wallpaper, red carpet and ornate light fittings feel terribly out-dated. Given the pub's size, I'd expected an intimate feel, but although there were candles on the table, the lighting elsewhere is very stark and one felt very exposed.
We had reserved a table in advance which was a good move, for the place was almost full when we arrived at 7pm. We were shown to our table and left with menus. A chap returned 10 minutes later to take orders for drinks. Whilst the place is generally rather informal, I do feel that staff should make more of an effort in their appearance. One waiter had jeans on, and the waitress, a rather dilapidated woolly cardigan. The drinks were reasonably priced and delivered as ordered, though I was a little surprised to find two miscellaneous leaves in my G&T (further inspection suggested they may have come from some flowers on the bar!).
The menu is what one might call 'confused'; not sure whether it's a restaurant, or a country pub. Starters include Mushroom Soup (£3), Smoked Fish Terrine (£4.25) and Scallops with Black Pudding and Bacon (£7). For the main, I had Rump Steak (from a local farm) with chips, mushrooms and tomato (£15.90). I asked for it to be cooked rare, and it was certainly that; in fact it was hardly cooked at all, but luckily I don't mind that. I would question whether it had been seasoned as it was rather bland in flavour, though the texture was good, and it's always nice to see some fat left on, however unpopular that might be for today's health-conscious diners! The hand-cut chips were particularly excellent and a nice change, though one was cut so thick, in fairness, it wasn't entirely cooked through. My dining companions had the Sea Bass (£12) and Gammon Steak (£7.90). The Gammon Steak looked particularly impressive, but the Sea Bass a little insipid and definitely for the appetite of a sparrow.
Having forgone a starter, we ordered a pudding, though the choice is limited. I had the Black Forest Crème Brulée with a Chocolate Biscuit (£4.50); this was actually a normal Crème Brulée with some cherries in. Sadly the chocolate biscuit was burned, and I was slightly concerned that it looked like someone had already had a bite from one side (I'm sure they hadn't!). My companions had the Poached Pear (£4.50) and Cheesecake (again, £4.50). I think the general opinion was 'nothing special'.
Overall, I was uninspired by the evening. I didn't feel that the place had the sort of intimate atmosphere it should have had. The food was good, but not wildly exciting, and in some cases, quite pricy for what it is. The menu is quite small, and I felt in particularly that there wasn't much on the main courses to choose from (just one vegetarian dish too). The food was generally cooked well, but as is so often the case, the menu is flowered up which inevitably leads to disappointment! The staff seemed very harassed and rushed, but maybe someone was off sick. The waitress tore round collecting our plates as soon as I'd put the last chip in my mouth, and I was still digesting it when she came back with the pudding menu.
The website is misleading; the photographs have been very cleverly taken as to highlight some of the more pleasing aspects of the pub. Of course, there's nothing wrong with maximising the good points, but I can't help but feel a little let down. The menu given on the website is given as a sample, and in fact, few of the dishes were available tonight (the prices have also increased in some cases). All in all, I was disappointed. Nevertheless, the place was popular and obviously has a strong following. Maybe the regulars are more forgiving of the somewhat lacklustre service? Would I visit again? Probably not...there are plenty more to try.