Express & Star

Food review: The Village Pub and Grill, Dudley

Under new management, the pub and grill at the Village Hotel has been given a modern make-over and new menu.

A nice steak is always tempting

Predominantly a hotel and spa, the restaurant is starting to bring more and more new faces. And it’s pretty easy to see why. The spacious, open-plan layout is great and can pretty much cater for anything.

There’s plenty of room, a rectangular bar in the centre acting as the focal point – conveniently with four big screens above – and there are seats around the bar, smaller tables for couples and longer tables for family occasions. I hadn’t been there before. Despite living in Dudley for the last 10 years I had no idea it had its own standalone restaurant until I saw it advertised on the roadside and thought it would be worth giving it a whirl.

It seemed I was not alone though because, after speaking to a member of staff who was busy clearing the tables and chatting happily to the customers – he was probably the manager, but I can’t be sure – he explained how the latest revamp had only been completed around two months ago. And he was pleased more and more ‘locals’ were making their way to the venue.

Whether it’s for group of football fans who want to set up camp in one of the village’s cinema-style enclosures, and order their drinks on an app, which means they don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own seats to enjoy a drink, or large parties of children and adults enjoying the Sunday carvery while celebrating birthday parties, it had everything going on.

With my wife Kelly and four-year-old daughter, Annabelle, we arrived around 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. We had no intention of going for the carvery on that particular day but perhaps would on a return visit. Served until 4.30pm, there were a lot of families and couples who had already finished theirs, and they all looked like satisfied customers.

The village prides on its all-you-can-eat carvey, which includes return trips for as much meat as you can manage, not just the veg and potatoes.

Basically, the Unlimited Sunday Lunch includes the soup of the day, and a choice of starters, a choice of carved meats along with unlimited roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese, carrots, cabbage, stuffing, gravy and choice of sauces, and then a selection of seasonal desserts to finish.

It sounds dangerous for someone like me, who tends to have the willpower of a three year old when it comes to not overindulging at an unlimited carvery, but for price it was not bad at all.

Kelly, however, had her heart set on a good steak, Annabelle was after a burger, and I was ready to study the grill section to see what I fancied. Visitors to the village are encouraged to browse the menu, whet their appetite and then download the app, with food and drinks then arriving at the table when ready. As it wasn’t particularly busy, we decided to just order at the bar as usual, but it’s good to know the app exists. First things first, we thought it would be best to share a starter, to leave plenty of room for the mains. We went for the calamari and shrimp basket, which also came with a garlic aioli dip.

I have to say it was the best calamari I’d had in a while. It was plump, large and succulent, not battered and deepfried to within an inch of its life. The prawns were also very nicely cooked and it all came served with some sliced spring onions and red chillis. A combination of all the trimmings, then dunked in the garlic dip, was wonderful – I regretted agreeing to share one but even Annabelle enjoyed the prawns.

When it came to the mains, again there was plenty of choice. Flatbread pizzas, at £11 a pop, seemed to be a favourite and there were the usual classics to choose from.

On another day one of those would have been the perfect choice or perhaps one of the burger stacks – two juicy burgers in a brioche bun, served with fries or house salad – which also came in six interesting and very appealing varieties. Alas, we were both drawn to the mains, grills and specials section.

In the end, with Kelly going for steak, I went for another classic that I hadn’t tried in a while, the peri peri chicken skewer. Two skewers were served, one containing grilled chicken and another a section of grilled vegetables, all with a peri peri dipping sauce, vine roasted tomatoes and a basket of fries.

It was very nice. Chicken on a skewer is something I tend to avoid when I’m trying to look for the fancy option but this was certainly a good choice.

The chicken was fresh and had a lovely sauce smothered over it, and there was also a nice mixture of vegetables to enjoy.

Mixed together, and dunked in the extra serving peri peri sauce – which certainly packed a punch – and some of the vine tomatoes and fries, it was delicious.

Kelly, who really liked the trendy décor of the village – with the use of different textures creating a friendly, vibrant and comfortable eating and drinking space (she’s much more clued up on that stuff than me), opted for the fillet steak with balsamic vine roasted tomatoes and chip, served with a béarnaise sauce.

She admitted to being a bit spoilt for choice while looking at the menu, wanting to try several of the options, but as it had been a while since she’d enjoyed a good steak so went for it – and she was not disappointed.

Although she asked for medium rare and it came out more medium, the steak was cooked really well and had a lovely, succulent, taste.

The vine tomatoes and small watercress salad went really well along with the separate fries in a bucket.

She was also pleased with how friendly and attentive the staff were.

For those watching their weight, the 500 Club, at £18, is a great option.

Nutritionally balanced with a lower calorie count, the list included black pepper crusted fillet steak, in an Asian broth with bok choi, Chinese cabbage, chillis and spring onions topped with sesame seeds, as well as Teriyaki salmon with warm black rice and kale, to name just two.

Again, they were all very tempting.

The children’s menu looked like the basic staple fare, such as pork sausages, chicken breast, beef burger or chicken goujons, which came served with either new potatoes, fries or mash, and baked bean, peas or side salad.

There was also the option of a pizza with two topping, or pasta, all finished with either a fresh fruit salad, ice cream tub or chocolate brownie.

However, the quality of the burger is worth a mention. The variety in quality that can be served up to kids is worrying at times but there’s no need to worry about that at the village.

It really was quality meat and Annabelle loved her brownie too.

The sticky toffee pudding Kelly and I shared to finish was warm and served with lovely, creamy vanilla ice cream, which made for a nice contrast.

We were not rushed at all during the afternoon and enjoyed a leisurely family meal, perfect on a Sunday.

The Village Pub & Grill is not cheap but the quality of food and service is very good.

If you haven’t popped in since the revamp, it’s worth a visit.