“ Address: Stourbridge Road / Wolverhampton / WV4 5NG / Tel: 01902 896264 „
Having heard numerous good reviews from friends and colleagues of this pub-come-restaurant in Penn, near Wolverhampton, we decided to visit for my husband's birthday last week. We visited on a Wednesday night and assumed that it would be fairly quiet, being midweek. You cannot book for this place so we were a little worried when we turned up around 7.15pm to find the car park (which is a fair size) absolutely rammed. Luckily we got the last space and my in-laws were sitting wondering what to do when a couple came back to their car and left, allowing them to park too. I was already realising that this place was probably full to capacity. We entered from the car park and immediately the warmth and noise level hit us....it was indeed absolutely full. The hostess told us it was a 45 minute wait for a table and took our name. There were no tables free in the bar area (which although not particularly distinct from the restaurant seemed to be a designated area directly in front of the bar) so we stood at the bar and ordered some drinks. Drinks prices are pretty reasonable, for a small glass of red wine, a pint of guiness, 2 halves of lager and an alcohol free bottle of Becks the total was £11. Presently another family who were waiting for a table were taken into the restaurant and we got a table, it was almost exactly 45 minutes from when we entered the building to when we got shown to a table so they are evidently pretty good with the estimating! The restaurant area is split into around 4 rooms, each filled with a mixture of booth style seating and larger and smaller wooden tables. We were placed in a booth which I quite liked, for the 5 of us it felt quite intimate. Service here is phenomenal and was consistently so. Efficient and knowledgeable, smart and friendly - considering how busy this place was we were amazed at how quickly orders were taken and how for each course all five meals were delivered to the table at the same time by two servers. No waiting around here! For starters three of us had baked mushrooms with cheddar which I can vouch for as being very tasty and not as greasy as I was expecting, the cheddar had been incorporated with breadcrumbs rather than being a blanket of the stuff and I liked this. The other two starters were the french onion soup and a lobster dish consisting of shredded meat and scallops, both got the thumbs up. For a main I went with an 8oz rump steak as this place is, essentially, a steak specialist and well known for it and, well, when in Rome! I was not disappointed at all, my steak was cooked perfectly to the medium I requested it, you can choose from a number of sides and options and I went with parmesan dressing on my salad and some fries. All were very good. Other mains at our table were three sea bass' and one 'ultimate' burger - which did indeed look quite fantastic and was practically impossible to eat as intended due to the size of it. Portion sizes here are very generous across the board, judging on what we saw. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their food, it is like a strange combination of a gastro-pub and a chain restaurant - but it is a very slick operation and that makes it feel impressive. The menu is not overly long, offering around 7 starters a range of steak, fish and pasta dishes along with a burger menu and a handful of sides, there is something for everyone though and a couple of decent veggie options too. The dessert menu looked very good and all were reasonably priced between £4-6 including a cheeseboard. We, however, were beaten by our mains and therefore did not sample them on this occasion. We kept our food tab separate from our drinks as we were buying those in rounds. The food bill for 5 people having two courses each was £88 which to us, given the standard of the food and the exemplary service, seemed like a fantastic bargain. My rump steak had been around £11 but they do do a variety of steaks costing all the way up to £20 and which, I do not doubt, are worth the cost if you are a steak connoisseur. We noticed that even though we visited on a midweek evening there were many large groups in and it seemed to specialise in these, there were two large birthday groups in at the same time as us and we would certainly consider using this place for such a gathering - although being unable to book could make this a bit of a problem, it may be that for large groups they will in fact take bookings. Be prepared to wait if you do visit - but based on our experience I would say it is indeed well worth the wait for fab food and service and a pretty lively atmosphere. The menu is available on the website and they also offer a fixed price menu until 6.30pm Mon-Thurs and until 5pm Fri-Sat where you can get 1 course for £6.95, 2 courses for £8.95 and 3 for £10.95. Well worth checking out.