There are sometimes ‘cons’ as well as ‘pros’ to pubs which offer something for everyone.
The modern trend of family dining taking place while sports events are screened on multiple TVs might seem rather incongruous compared to how such establishments were 10 or 15 years ago but we have always found it works smoothly enough and have enjoyed some delicious meals while the big match has played out across the room.
But on one recent Sunday afternoon, we stopped in our tracks at the door when we decided to call in for a bite at The County after being tempted by the menu on a previous visit just for drinks.
The Sunday call coincided with a Premier League clash between Tottenham and Manchester United – and there wasn’t a spot to be found as we surveyed the premises from the entrance.
The menus were still on the tables, the food was clearly available but every nook and cranny as far as we could see was taken by football fans absorbed in the game.
On that occasion, we headed elsewhere – but put any frustration we felt down to our poor timing and resolved to return to sample the menu at a quieter time.
When we did, there was still a match on - Chelsea v Tottenham – but the place was substantially quieter.
We had a big choice of tables and found a nicely-situated one to the left of the bar area, which is immediately adjacent to the County’s own pizza oven, a prime reason why our teenage daughter in particular was keen to check out the menu.
Alongside an extensive range of steaks, burgers and ‘faves’ such as pies and sausage and mash, The County offers what struck us as a rare treat for a pub of a variety of stone-baked pizzas freshly baked in its own oven, manned by a suitably-clad pizza chef.
There is also a ‘low and slow’ section to the menu, offering slowly-cooked meats served in a variety of interesting ways, which really tempted me, while we noticed for future reference that breakfast is also served daily, at what looked very reasonable prices.
We headed to the bar to order and were impressed with the friendly service, which was called back into action sooner than we had planned after we returned to our seats.
For starters, we had said we wanted ‘Macho Nachos’ off the sharing section of the menu, which were billed as coming drenched in toppings and looked great value at £6.50.
But on checking the bill, I found the server had marked us down for just a single starter portion of nachos, which we were sure would hardly have satisfied the three of us.
So back to the bar I went, the matter was swiftly and efficiently resolved and we really enjoyed the sharing plate after it was brought our table a few minutes later.
For mains, I opted for pulled pork tacos (£9.50) from the ‘low and slow’ choices.
I’ve enjoyed a number of Tex-Mex-style options in pubs over the years, but tacos struck me as a rare treat and the inclusion of pulled pork was a winning combination.
The three soft flour tacos were generously filled with the meat as well as lettuce and ranch dressing and came – on a specially-tailored plate to keep the tacos upright – with a deliciously spicy serving of jambalaya rice.
My wife was impressed with her halloumi burger, which was £8.25 on the extensive burger menu but came as part of an attractive burger and drink offer at £9.75, including a pint of diet cola.
She was specially delighted it was served in bread rather than the brioche which is sadly more common these days, while our daughter was in her element on being served a generously-sized margherita pizza (£7.50), fresh from that oven and looking more like something which belonged in an Italian restaurant than a pub. She had a pot of ranch dressing on the side ‘for crust dipping’ and declared it all delicious.
Our bill, with soft drinks, came to £41.55.