Our mystery meal reviewer, The Insider, enjoys a great value meal at the Seven Stars in Seisdon and an encounter with the pub dog, Molly.
There seems to be a thing about me and dogs at the moment, writes our mystery meal reviewer, The Insider. Actually, that should be dogs and I, but it doesn't really sound right, so I have decided to live dangerously and break the rules of grammar.
Anyway, I digress. Last week, you may recall, I told how I was befriended by a giant St Bernard in the wintry outpost of Mamble, near Bewdley.
This week it was a gentle chocolate labrador which turned out to greet us in the car park of the Seven Stars at Seisdon.
“Hello Molly, great to see you, I have heard so much about you,” are the words I did not actually say at all. Sadly the attitude still prevails in modern society that people who spend freezing winter nights in pub car parks talking at length to dogs are somewhat barking themselves.
However, I did feel I almost knew Molly, and indeed the pub itself, long before I had visited. For the last six months I have been inundated with letters and emails about the Seven Stars, which has attracted admirers from as far afield as Kent and Buckinghamshire.
Nearly all the reports have been positive – although Barry Nickolds criticised the time it took for his food to arrive – with Liz Roden from Brierley Hill speaking fondly about the warm welcome, and indeed Molly the chocolate labrador.
About time we paid a visit, then.
Actually, I had tried to eat there a few weeks ago, only to discover that the restaurant was closed for redecorating, but I am pleased to report it is up and running now, and open for business.
Situated on a road junction, its deep gabled roof and large bay windows make it look a little like the Bayko country club I might or might not have made as a boy. To the front, a low picket fence surrounds a raised patio, and there are potted conifers outside.
Parking was quite tight on the Friday night we visited, but it was possible to squeeze in. Apart from a small step up at the entrance, access seems to be fairly easy, although reader Arthur Riley did point out the lack of a disabled toilet or blue badge parking space.
On entering the pub, the modern, stylish bar with its leather sofas and roaring fire can be seen through a glass partition, while the more traditional dining room is on the left.
The refurbished restaurant is quite attractive. The copper panelling beneath the bar provides a feel of quality, and the signal red paint finish and candle bulbs in the wall light give it a bit of a classical look, perhaps like an expensive 1930s hotel.
The cream and brown beamed ceiling gives is quite attractive, but the slightly tired rustic style door does look a little out of place. Having gone to such lengths to provide an attractive place to dine it, I was slightly disappointed that paper serviettes and sauces in sachets had been allowed to let the side down a little.
The restaurant was busy, but there were one or two empty tables. The customers are quite a diverse bunch, and slightly younger than I had been expecting. There was a family group celebrating a birthday at the table by the window, bursting into a chorus of Happy Birthday, Dear Mum, as the matriarch was presented with an impressive looking cake.
Also near the window was a group of young people, while a couple, probably in their early 50s, were sat opposite us.
Just around the corner was a slightly boisterous group spanning several generations.
The menu is mainly traditional pub food, and the prices are very competitive indeed. The most expensive main course, an 8oz sirloin steak, was just £9.95, and the bangers and mash which I opted for was just £4.95. The secret recipe “Grandma's Cottage Pie” is £5.95, and the chilli-con-carne for the same price is said not to be for the fainthearted.
As Mr Nickolds says, the food took around 25 minutes to arrive, although to be honest I do not think that is unreasonable. I suppose it depends what you are looking for; I would rather wait a while for a meal to be cooked than have something that has been prepared in advance and reheated.
You certainly get a lot for the money. I had also ordered a side order of chips, purely in the name of research, you understand, and it soon became evident I would not be able manage it all. The sausage is said to be supplied by a local butcher, and it was pleasantly thick and soft, not overcooked like it sometimes is.
It was accompanied by a mountain of creamy mash, and served in a fairly thick onion gravy, and there were generous helpings of steamed vegetables. It all tasted good, and a pint of Jenning’s excellent Cumberland ale was the perfect accompaniment.
My dining partner was also very impressed with the beer battered cod, describing it as faultless, although like me, she was unable to eat it all. But while I did not mind waiting a while for the main, I struggled to understand why it took so long for the lemon cheesecake to arrive.
Eventually I inquired behind the bar regarding its whereabouts, and when it did come, it was of a similarly generous proportions as the rest of the meal. It did appear to be partially frozen in places, but it was otherwise enjoyable, being light and creamy, with a good solid biscuit base.
The total bill was £26.10, representing remarkable value, particularly given that I was handed a 10 per cent off voucher if I wanted to return.
The staff were all pleasant and eager to please, the surroundings were attractive, and the food was definitely a cut above what you usually get a this price. Well worth a visit then. And when you do go, say hello to Molly for me.
The Seven Stars, Fox Road, Seisdon, WV5 7HD
Phone: 01902 896918
Breaded garlic mushrooms £2.95: Prawn cocktail in Marie Rose dressing £3.45: Potato skins filled with cheese and onion or ham and cheese £2.95
Wholetail scampi with chips, salad garnish and a wedge of lemon £6.95: Hunter’s chicken, topped with bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce served with chips and salad garnish £6.95: Vegetarian lasagne verdi with chips and salad garnish £4.95 10oz gammon steak with fried eggs, pineapple rings, onion rings, mushrooms, grilled tomato, peas and chips £7.95; Half pound beef burger with salad garnish, chiops, onion rings and barbecue sauce £4.95; Boozy beef served with mash and steamed vegetables £5.95
Bailey’s cheesecake £2.95; Treacle sponge £2.95; Chocolate sponge £2.45; Strawberry sundae £2.45