Food review: A great slice of Sunday delight
If I could have taken a picture of our friends' faces when they saw the prices and the size of the meals, it would have said far more than the words that are about to follow.
Our good mates Belinda and John were visiting from the Isle of Man so we thought we'd treat them to a slap-up meal – Dudley style.
Let's just say the price differential between our lovely island, and the even smaller, and arguably more lovely island in the middle of the Irish Sea, is quite wide.
So when we ordered four mains, a child's meal, a bottle of wine and a few beers for good measure – and it all came to just under £80 – for a split second they thought about moving in.
The Saltwells Inn is a wonderful pub, in a great location that serves good beer and great food.
Since the housing estate went up nearby it has got even better. And when you consider it's got the wonderful nature reserve as an extended beer garden too, it really does tick all the boxes.
For us, when my wife Kelly and I go with my five-year-old daughter Annabelle, the fact it's got two really nice playgrounds for the kids too makes it a great place to stop off at for a quick pint over the weekend.
This time, armed with our Manx cousins, we went for some food, a few drinks and a few laughs before our friends set sail for the Isle of Man the following day.
We were all hungry too when we arrived, which is always a good starting point, but it took a while to choose our meals because as well as the large and in depth menu there is also a specials board, which changes on a regular basis.
I don't know why but my eyes were immediately drawn to the pub classic – steak 'n' ale pie served with chips and peas. I hadn't it for so long but sometimes there is no better meal.
And this one did not disappoint either providing everything you'd want from such a meal. Chunky, succulent steak, rich gravy, plenty of taste and lashings of Ketchup, salt and vinegar on the the chips.
For some Sunday afternoon pub grub, other than perhaps a Sunday roast, it really could not have been better.
For a special, it was simplicity itself. I couldn't remember the last time I'd ordered something like that so I didn't bother looking too much at any of the other options available and just went for it.
The pie, rather than being surrounded in pastry and lacking any meat, was the complete opposite.
It was a slice of pie, which meant it had a little less pastry and more of that wonderful filling. Perfect.
There was plenty of tender steak too while the rich gravy went really well.
And rather than it being huge, it was a great size, not too overbearing but enough to keep the hunger at bay.
Using the chips to soak up some more of that lovely gravy, it was just really nice.
Kelly opted for the lamb shank, which was also a wonderful Sunday afternoon dinner.
The portions were pretty big but it didn't take anything away from the quality, which can happen from time to time.
Nicely cooked and served with plenty of vegetables, she really enjoyed it. The lamb shank was so rich and all the meat just fell away.
She was perhaps the only person who had wished for more at the end of the meal, it was that nice. Another good cut of meat with not too much fat on it.
There was, however, a mountain of mash to get through but it all tasted great.
Belinda fancied a surf 'n' turf, which was the usual steak with scampi and chips.
Again, the meat was cooked to perfection – a medium-rare steak actually came out medium rare – and again the size of the meal was something to behold.
Let's just say you get a lot more bang for your buck in Dudley when compared to the Isle of Man.
She was very impressed with the quality and quantity of the good and there was plenty of scampi too.
I managed to nick one so I can vouch for them being very nicely cooked.
And then John was served his mega mixed grill. I've never seen someone's eyes pop out of their head with such glee.
It was absolutely huge but still a steal when you consider it cost just over £10.
Everything you could think of it included, like steak, pork chops, sausages, lamb, gammon and all the usual trimmings too, like peas, mushrooms, tomatoes and chips.
Fair play to him too, he managed to pretty much clear the plate. One very satisfied customer because again it was quality meat.
Kelly and Annabelle shared a Millionaire cheesecake but the rest of us were too full for anything else.
We'd visited Saltwells Inn a few times since its refurbishment but this was the first time we'd had a proper sit down meal, and it's fair to say we'll be going back.
The setting for a family-friendly pub really is superb with the Saltwells Nature Reserve forming a stunning backdrop.
I took my daughter around the reserve for the first time over the summer and she keeps asking to go back, despite me accidentally taking her on the longest route by mistake.
It was a lovely day, the sun was out and we finished our trek in the beer garden. She clearly enjoyed it as much as me and now the pub has become a bit of a staple, also because the staff are friendly too.
The pub also has two large family rooms and a large garden area.
The two children's adventure play areas include ample adult seating, so parents can keep an eye on their little ones while relaxing with a drink and enjoying the surrounding woodland.
Even if you're not eating, although I'd recommend you do, it's a great place visit for a quick pint and packet of scratchings.
It's even possible to make a real night of it as The Saltwells Inn offers accommodation for business people, workers and tourist alike.
All rooms have a television as well as tea and coffee making facilities.
So whether you fancy a quick pint, a nice meal or an overnight stay, it's definitely worth checking out.
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