Take a certain route on the back roads between Rickmansworth to the Chalfonts and you’ll pass a curious old pub called the Dumb Bell. We’ve spotted it a few times and have long intended to pop in to see what this somewhat remote hostelry has to offer.
At the weekend we finally did just that. Inclement weather drove us to escape the house but not venture too far, so recalling this pub we drove the three miles or so for Sunday Lunch. It’s a somewhat rambling establishment with a sizable beer garden and a front dining room capturing all the charm of an eccentric’s living room.
A particular attraction of the Dumb Bell was its Ploughman’s Lunch. Tara is already a fan of the Ploughman’s in the Old Orchard pub in Harefield, and we were keen to see how this alternative offering compared.
The Dumb Bell Special Ploughman’s Lunch: £6.95
Menu description: “A hearty platter of freshly prepared salad and coleslaw with mature cheddar cheese and honey glazed ham, spicy pickled onions and homemade chutney all served with the bread of the day”
Tara’s view: Plentiful portion, nice salad, tasty homemade bread
The Old Orchard Ploughman’s: £8.95
Menu description: “Mrs Appleby’s White Cheshire and Colston Bassett stilton with bread, ham, pickled onion, apple, celery and chutney”
Tara’s view: Good cheese variety, nice thick ham
So two rather different culinary interpretations of a classic, each with their strengths. Which would you prefer?
The Dumb Bell is also worth mentioning for its generous Sunday carvery. £7.95 for slices of as many as 4 meats, if you like, and all the trimmings. Great value.
When cycling along the Grand Union Canal to the south from Ricky, the first water-side pub I encounter is the Coy Carp. After many months we finally got around to trying it out for Sunday lunch.
Each of the roads leading to Harefield seem to be quite small and narrow. Although not unusual around these parts, Harefield is larger than some of the other villages we’ve encountered yet seems somewhat tricky to reach. On arrival however, there’s a very good size pub car park, able to cope with even the busiest of Sunday lunchtimes it would seem.
From the car park the pub is accessed over a small pub which crosses a small river, running parallel to the canal. There’s both a sizeable seating area inside the pub and outside, however the weather made the outside off-limits to all put the hardiest of patrons.
The Coy Carp’s interior is fairly standard pub, fairly comfortable without being either modern or historic. Despite some poor comments on beerintheeventing.co.uk we found the service to be fine. It’s primarily ordering at the bar, although waiting staff did take our order directly for dessert.
It’s been quiet on the blog recently but we’ve been continuing to make some great local culinary discoveries.
Few restaurants in the area so regularly feature in top food guides as the Artichoke in Amersham. Being closed on Sundays, we booked in for Saturday lunch a few weekends ago. It quickly becomes apparent that this is the home of fine dining; the service is top notch from the moment you walk in while the menu exudes quality. It’s priced accordingly without being prohibitively expensive. Definitely worth a visit for a special occasion.
Another weekend took us again over the border to Buckinghamshire; this time to Chesham on the Metropolitan Line. Curiously, Chesham is the largest town on the Amersham branch of the Met Line, however the path of history has meant that rather than a mainline stop is it an infrequently served station at the end of a single line spur of track from Chalfont & Latimer. Despite the relative inconvenience of reaching this farthest flung outpost of the tube network, our visit revealed some surprises. Chesham’s high street isn’t bad, but it’s the old town which is the biggest highlight. Based on recommendations we tried out the Queens Head, famed around these parts for its Thai food. It lived up to the reputation and was a fine old pub with it. Round the corner there’s also a Chess River walk to be had.
Over the few weeks we’ve lived in Rickmansworth I’ve been in search of a decent Sunday Lunch. So far I’ve tried two of the swankier, but nevertheless reasonably priced pubs in the area in my search.
The Feathers, Church Street, Rickmansworth
Open just four months in its current incarnation, the Feathers is probably my favourite hostelry in central Ricky. The pub is a part of oldest Rickmansworth and has the fine stone and wooden beam clad interior you’d hope for. The Feathers has been given a modern refurbishment, giving a comfortable mix of dining, drinking and outdoor areas in very pleasing surrounds. The service is good, with the staff clearly having been training to ensure guests enjoy the new venture. The Feathers, price-wise and in terms of appearance, places itself at the classier end of the pub food spectrum while not straying into Gastropub territory.
The Sunday Roast is £9, which to my mind is mid-to-high for a non-Gastropub. Unfortunately the Sunday Roast I had last weekend was distinctly mediocre. The beef was not at all generous in quality and was clearly of the ‘been sitting there for sometime and overdone’ variety. The trimmings were fine but of a similar unremarkable quality and quantity. It’s the quality you might expect at Wetherspoons but which you’d only expect to pay similarly £5 for.
This is, I feel, where The Feathers may have trouble in terms of retaining food custom, as I love my Sunday Roasts but I certainly wouldn’t rush back for this one. When you have a new venture and you’re pricing and presenting yourselves as being reasonably well presented and classy, the whole product needs to delivery to estabish a customer base and here it simply didn’t. Others around us were also unhappy with their food; a table who ordered burgers and had requested how well it was cooked along with expecting the cheddar topping and potato wedges promised in the menu instead received standard well-done burger with a processed cheese slice and what can only be called a stingey number of standard chips. Again, if you’re promising quality in the menu the product has to deliver.