Castle View was one of those pubs I’d driven past a 100 times but never found the time to pop in.
The reason I see it so regularly is because it’s on the school run, or at least it’s one of the first things I see having dropped my daughter, Annabelle, off before heading into work.
The first thing that stood out was the playground. It’s clearly visible as you head down Duncan Edwards Way and on to the Birmingham Road.
I’d always thought it would be a nice place to take Annabelle, perhaps after school one day, when the sun was shining.
So when Kelly had the day off for her birthday, I was able to get back quicker than usual and we decided to head to the Castle View.
The pub is run by the Hungry Horse company, so we had a fair idea of what to expect before we got there.
It’s a very nicely turned out pub/restaurant and it appeared very child-friendly too.
There were televisions in some of the booths. However, if that seems a bit too distracting during a sit down meal there are plenty of other, quieter tables too, and the beer garden was as big and lively as we’d expected.
So, first things first, it was drinks outside before heading back in to eat, minus the television.
The staff were very friendly throughout. We were a little earlier than our 6pm reservation but they still had a table for us and let us open up a tab too.
We honestly hadn’t planned this, but it also happened to be wine Wednesday. And what that meant was bottles of wine varied from £5 to £7.
They were pretty good quality too. Kelly quite likes a Tempranillo these days and as one of those was a fiver we went for that.
We even took one home with us because it was cheaper than popping over to the off licence later.
Annabelle was able to blow off some steam and make a few new friends, while we could take in the last of the sun before heading back indoors.
Another standout feature of the pub was the price. Everything was good value for money and all of it tasted good.
There was a big selection to choose from too. It was a little tricky deciding on what to order.
Starters included roasted tomato soup, vegan tomato soup, garlic ciabatta, garlic breaded mushrooms, chicken fingers and halloumi fingers.
In the end Kelly went for two marinated chicken skewers on iceberg lettuce, topped with red chilli, spring onion, fresh coriander, and a yoghurt and mint sauce.
I probably would have gone for that one too but instead ordered the 10 chicken wings, which came with a choice of sauces. I quite liked the sound of the Caribbean one.
It turned out the sauce was very different, but certainly not bad. It was a lot sweeter than I expected but still had a bit of a kick. The wings were nice and crispy too – and 10 was a fair-sized portion.
The skewers were really good too. The chicken was nice and juicy, well-flavoured and the accompanying salad was also fresh.
When it came to mains, the pub pretty much catered for everything you could think of.
‘Naked pub faves’ were all under 600 calories, for those watching their waists, and included the likes of beef lasagne, chicken New Yorker and breaded wholetail scampi, all served with salad. There were also deli pasta, classic salad and jackets potatoes
The two meals for a tenner contained a lot of dishes and the big plate specials did exactly what they said on the tin – they were huge – while the burger selection had a few weird and wonderful versions, such as the Asian burger, which was Chinese spiced, mixed vegetable and red lentil patty, served in a vegan poppy seed bun with iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato and red onion, all topped with sliced spring onion, chilli, coriander and sweet chilli sauce.
In the end we went for the ‘mix it sizzlers’, which were a do-it-yourself style meal where you choose your meat, sauce and two sides.
Again, there was plenty of choice. The only disappointing thing was both the salmon and pork were not available but Kelly was happy to try a steak instead while I went for the half roast chicken.
I had mine with the piri piri sauce, Mexican rice and sweet potato fries, which all came served on a bed of sizzling onions and peppers.
It was great. The chicken had been grilled really nicely, with a touch of that burnt, chargrilled effect that tastes so good, while the sauce had a lovely kick, the Mexican rice was full of authentic flavours and the fries were also cooked well too.
For a chain pub, it was very impressive. The only downside was it was clear, having asked to wait a few minutes before the mains had been brought out – as the starters had been so ample – the dishes had been left under the hot plate, which had scorched the peppers and onions.
It was a small complaint, however, and Kelly also really enjoyed her steak. It certainly didn’t come out medium rare as she had ordered but it was still tender and tasty, with a lovely sticky barbecue sauce.
The desserts looked good too but we were simply too full.
The children’s menu was also nicely varied and had a few eye-catching additions, which I hadn’t come across before.
Some of it was really healthy like corn on the cob and crunchy veggie dip sticks for starters.
There was the usual fare of nuggets, pizzas, chips, etc, but Annabelle went for garlic bread for starters.
Then the real fun part arrived – the chance to build your own pasta, for £3.99.
Basically, the dish came out in small, individual bowls containing pasta tubes, tomato sauce, peas, grated cheese and another two garlic ciabatta fingers. She does like a garlic bread.
Once served, the children can add it all at their own leisure, eat them separately or do what they want with it.
It’s a lovely little idea that makes food that bit more interesting for children.
Again, it was the same for the DIY Wrapper, which was veggie sticks, grated cheese, lettuce, tomato dip and sour cream served with soft flour tortillas and your choice of either slices of chicken fillet or Quorn sausages.
She really enjoyed it all and finished it all off with bubblegum ice cream, served with popping candy. We all got involved in that one.
They even do baby food for youngsters age four months and above.
All in all, a very nice venue, with lovely food in a family-friendly atmosphere.
Castlegate Business Park,
Dudley DY1 4RJ
Star rating: 4/5