“ Address: High Road / Buckhurst Hill IG9 5HT / Essex / Tel: 0208 5590909 „
~~~TOBY CARVERY, BUCKHURST HILL, ESSEX~~~
~For Vegetarians and Meat Eaters~
This is a well located pub/restaurant, which is a member of the Toby Carvery chain. It is just into Essex but on the borders of Essex and Greater London, making it easily accessed from Loughton, Woodford and Buckhurst Hill and indeed other surrounding areas in Essex and in the greater London (or London itself) area. It can be reached by road, bus and tube stations. Buckhurst Hill is on London's central line.
~Choosing A Place To Dine~
I dined here in May when my brother kindly invited myself and my husband (and our grown up sons and daughters but they already had other commitments) as one of the birthday treats arranged for my (and his) father who was celebrating his 80th birthday.
This carvery was formerly known as the Bare Faced Stag.
My father is quite fussy about what he eats and doesn't like spicy food, so my brother felt that a carvery, where the food was more on the plain side than perhaps an international restaurant, but hopefully would consist of a tasty roast meal, would probably be the best choice of restaurant for the birthday boy. In fact, dad doesn't really like to dine out often at all but, as I was hosting a small party at the weekend, my brother and his wife felt that they too would like to do something in way of celebrating this momentous occasion. We all felt that a carvery would provide a fairly relaxing place to dine for my father.
As our dad is used to eating early we planned to arrive here at around six o'clock in the evening. I think the table had been booked for six thirty. There was a good amount of car parking space available in the pub's large car park although the pub seemed busy, probably with workers having a drink before returning home, and early diners. In fact Toby Carvery restaurants are often busy in the early evening as lunch time prices are available if seated at one's table before seven p.m.
On entering the carvery with my husband, we saw that the rest of our party had already arrived and were seated at a table in the pub area. My sister in law and my niece had already started on a jug of pimms and had a glass ready and waiting for me.
The bar area is comfortable with many tables arranged within of different sizes, most low in height but also some high tables with bar stool type seating around them.
This area is equipped with fruit machines and a quiz machine.
Service at the bar seemed to be quick and efficient.
Toby Carveries offer a good range of beer, lager, spirits and soft drinks reasonably priced.
When our table was ready, we were pleased to see we had been given a large round table which had plenty of room for the seven of us.
I had a look at the menu as I don't eat meat and I wondered if I should order a vegetarian option, although I don't feel these options really go well with the roast potatoes and vegetables on offer. I mentioned this to my niece (who used to work in this carvery as a part time job to see her through college) saying that I thought I might rather just have a plate of vegetables without the meat and she said she would mention this to the waitress and then my meal would be slightly cheaper. I think it's about one pound cheaper in this case.
We all ordered another drink and I chose a glass of red wine. I can't remember what the others had but as already mentioned, Toby Carvery has a good selection of wines, beers and spirits.
Some of us had starters and among those chosen were garlic mushrooms served with garlic bread and prawn salad.
On this occasion all of our party chose a carvery meal although there are alternatives such as a salmon fillet (£8.25), Wensleydale Crusted Hake Fillet ( £8.25), lemon &pepper chicken Salad (£7.25), Chicken Tikka Salad (£7.25) and several other options.
Vegetarian options (£7.25) consist of at least one of these two: Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne, Smoked Bean Hash, Broccoli & Brie Parcel, Spicy Vegetable Crumble.
I went to choose my meal in the usual carvery fashion-which is to join a queue at busy times, if necessary (usually fast moving) and, if choosing meat diners can select two to be carved from the joints available, such as gammon ham, turkey, beef or pork. Lamb is available at times. As I didn't want meat I was given a plate on which a large Yorkshire pudding was then placed upon and then I moved along to choose from the vegetable selection, which includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower cheese, parsnips, onions, carrots, peas, mashed swedes, roast and mashed potatoes.
But here I would like to add that Monday to Thursday are also curry nights when diners can also choose as much as they want from a selection of curries, served with rice, Bombay potatoes and other accompaniments. Although it doesn't really go I felt bound to sample a very tiny portion of Bombay potatoes!
Once I felt there was an adequate amount of food upon enough was on my plate I moved along to a separate table to select from the gravies which are usually meat gravy, vegetarian or onion gravy, along with sauces and mustards.
We all enjoyed our meal. Everyone else in our party ate meat so between them all the meats on offer were sampled. I've never heard anyone complain in a Toby Carvery that the meat isn't lovely; it always seems to be moist and tender, although it does seem to be best to go at a busy time when everything is freshly cooked. We all probably ate too much. People do tend to over eat at carveries, in my opinion.
I usually go to the Woodford Carvery, but must say on this occasion, I thought that the Buckhurst Hill Carvery had the edge in terms of the food being a little nicer, with vegetables being softer and slightly better prepared.
Not everyone ordered dessert but those that did chose:
Chocolate Fudge Cake with ice cream (£3.50)
Fruit Crumble with with a 'bottomless' custard jug. ( £3.55)
Handmade Trifle- jelly, sponge,
raspberries, custard and whipped cream (£3.75)
These are all suitable for vegetarians.
I had the trifle which came in a tall glass and it was delicious.
I don't know if I have been lucky at Toby Carveries or if the chain is very good at choosing staff but I always find the service friendly and polite. Although the carvery itself is of a serve yourself mode a waitress still arrives at your table to serve drinks, starters, desserts and anything ordered from the alternative (to carvery) menu. The waiter/waitress will always return several times to ask if everything is alright with the meal and to see if more drinks are required. I feel considering Toby Carvery is at the lower end of the market in respect of price, the service is usually better than one might expect.
Another drink was ordered and, to my father's great embarrassment, a birthday cake with two lit candles (8 and 0) was brought out by our waitress, and she, bravely, even started the singing of, 'Happy birthday.'
Families are welcome. High chairs are available and children's menu is good and cheap, in my opinion. Children can choose from a small carvery meal (vegetarian too) or other options which seem to be child friendly. The carvery is popular with families having young children at lunch times, early evenings and weekends. I haven't been in a Toby Carvery where the children present have misbehaved but this could be to do with the area or luck, I really don't know. I find the atmosphere better than many Harvester pubs, although I believe these belong to the same chain, and much better in general to Wetherspoons, although location probably has much to do with a pleasant or not dining experience.
This restaurant is all on one level and is accessible to wheelchair users.
Those with sight impairment are welcome to bring their guide dogs.
~~MY OVERALL OPINION~~
I always find the service pleasant and fairly prompt in any Toby Carveries that I have visited. I feel that Toby's offer a great value dining experience if you are looking for tasty, filling no- frills, reasonably priced meal. It isn't posh or a unique dining experience but it is good for families and those wanting a decent meal without breaking the bank. I don't eat meat but still find that I enjoy a meal at this carvery and would choose Toby Carvery over most other chains offering dining at the cheaper end of the market.