Monday to Friday over the lunch time period, The Windmill has a restaurant that closes at 2:30 while food is served in the bar until 4pm. Seeking a late lunch with a friend, we chose the bar option where the full selection of pies is readily available so no problems in that respect. We both opted for a pie: one steak and mushroom, one chicken bacon and leek. Both come with mash though I requested they swap my mash for chips which they were happy to do but that incurred a £1 surcharge which I think is a first in our experience. Indeed, chips as a side are on the menu at 90p more than mash. We guessed that both the mash and chips are bought in in bulk and the bought in chips cost more while the menu prices at cost plus; only a guess however. Neither was particularly special with the chips appropriately better than the mash but only just falling on the right side of acceptable. For me, the mash was on the wrong side.
The pies were okay. There's a decent enough crusty pastry top but overall the pastry is too thick and often felt stodgy in the mouth. My beef and mushroom filling was quite nice however with at least the beef satisfying which is by no means a given in many a pub pie but these were still not pies to shout about, simply good enough not to moan about at the price. Both were very heavily seasoned to the point of being overseasoned.
We sat, we ate, we chatted; we finished our food and the empty plates now sat with us also. Time flies when you are enjoying a good chat and we weren't looking at our watches. The barman/waiter then comes to our table to collect not our empty plates but the menu. "Can we not order desserts?" I ask as I watch the menu go.
"No, the kitchen's closed," he replies.
We look at our watch, it's 4:05pm. The waiter leaves with the menu, our dirty plates remain on the table while I remain speechless. The pub is essentially empty at 4pm, there's ample staff to do the chores, so why at 3:50 or 3:55 (a time when we had already finished our mains) could he have not come to our table and said "the kitchen closes in 5 minutes, if you'd like desserts, can you order now". We would have bought desserts, probably another drink (or two) and there would have been another £20+ in the till. Instead, we put our coats on and left.
Perhaps it's different in the restaurant area but this was a typical pub service fail downstairs in the bar. We always think on such occasions, if they're not interested in serving food in the bar, simply don't do it, we certainly wouldn't criticise a pub for not serving lunch in the bar between 3-4pm, but if you do offer it, do it right, including service. In an age when pubs constantly complain how difficult it is for them to make ends meet, The Windmill willingly saw money walk out the door that I wanted to spend there and that's just crazy. The Guinea Grill it is not.