I have to confess, I wouldn't in fact recognise Guy Ritchie even if he approached our table in person and reeled off the day's special. With Hollywood somewhat lost on me, the pub nevertheless claims that it is 'renowned for serving superb British fusion cuisine sourced from the freshest ingredients'. More like it, that does it for me more than the prospect of a glimpse of Jude Law; with one half of the CC missing, a lunch there with a friend was duly booked.
The final mention of this celebrity thing: it has made the Punchbowl somewhat sensitive to cameras and so not wishing to ruin anybody's day, we didn't take the normal hardware with us, hence the pictures are not to the usual standard. Apologies to all.
Inside The Punchbowl, it remains a proper pub and feels like a proper pub. It serves proper beer, has wooden floors, old wood tables and wooden pub chairs. The décor on the walls has kept its heritage and eschewed modern interpretations or glitz, all of which I certainly appreciate. The restaurant part occupies the back half of the venue.
The menu is what you might term 'pub plus' with a few semi-adventurous dishes and lots of reliables also: the main courses include fish and chips, Sheperd's pie and sausage and mash. There's a choice of nine starters including a soup of the day, steak tartar and a ham hock terrine amongst others. My friend played it straight down the line with the Wild Scottish Smoked Salmon while I chose the Confit pork belly 'Porchetta', granny smith puree. The pork was thinly sliced and reminded a little too much of sliced pork you might buy from a supermarket to use as a sandwich filling. I always worry too about ordering pork starters for fear of becoming full up before the main course but here, the wafer thinness seemed in fact a little too insubstantial. To be fair, the pork flavours and the apple came through giving a comfort feel but confit pork belly should be a naughty indulgence but it just didn't feel like it here.
The mains saw another down the line steak sandwich that my friend thought good, but even visibly, there was far too much mustard on it (turning the inside bright yellow) but otherwise it was enjoyed. My main was the 'day boat market fish of the day', today being Gurnard, a fish that the Independent called 'an ugly fish, a tasty dish'. Sadly today it wasn't so tasty. Served with a Coley spiced mousse on lentils, nothing really worked here, the fish was over cooked, the mousse was apathetic and the lentils seemed to make eating the dried out dish yet more difficult. Overall, a sad miss.
On desserts, a crumble and something else was off the menu but there was an addition of a chocolate mousse which was marketed as the 'lightest you will ever eat'. It wasn't, but it was okay, but it was never more than a chocolate mousse.
The Punchbowl is however almost always busy, and I once visited on a day that was so busy that arriving customers were being turned away from the door, the entire pub being entirely full. They're clearly doing something right and they have a loyal following. For this blogger on this day however, as Siskel and Ebert might have signalled, it was two thumbs down.
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