Food review: Waggon & Horses, Wombourne
Having driven past the Waggon & Horses many times, James Driver-Fisher decided to stop off for a family meal. Here’s what he thought. . .
There’s just something so mouth-watering about seeing row upon row of chickens being roasted before your eyes.
When you’re already hungry it really makes it difficult to think about ordering anything else.
We’d driven passed the Waggon & Horses, in Wombourne, on numerous occasions as it was on the way to somewhere else, usually my wife’s parents, in Highley.
This time, however, we were leaving a friend’s house in Cradley Heath and, although it’s not exactly down the road, we decided it was time to give the pub a whirl.
Run by Marston’s brewery, you pretty much know the food and service is going to be of a certain standard, and premises clean and tidy. It’s what you come to expect from one of their pubs.
To our surprise, there was also an extremely well-kept beer garden with a small play area and climbing frame, as well as lots of grass, plenty of benches and ample space.
The pub is off the busy Bridgnorth Road but the beer garden is completely secluded, so you can enjoy some peace and quiet or maybe pull some tables together and have a mini party.
There were lots of boys in full Sunday league kit, most still wearing their shin pads and football boots, so it’s that kind of place.
Children can go off playing while the parents have a few well-earned drinks and some food.
As my wife, Kelly and four-year-old daughter Annabelle entered the pub, we were soon seated.
We arrived about noon and were asked if we could give the table up at 2pm as it had been reserved, so if you’re planning on eating later it might be worth booking in advance. It’s a very popular place.
The menu was quite intriguing and, as well as the normal pub grub, it also had a few more interesting dishes for those who fancy something different.
There was the biggest selection of starters I’d seen for a long time and vegetarians will be pleased to know that far from just being a roasted chicken joint, there were plenty to choose from for non-meat eaters.
We went for the creamy mushroom pâté to start. It was a rich mushroom, tarragon and parsley cream cheese pâté that came with toasted ciabatta, caramelised red onion chutney and a mixed leaf garnish.
First impressions were how light it was. The cream gave way to a hint of mushroom, rather than the other way round, with a tiny kick of the cheese following.
Combined with the chutney and ciabatta, it made for a nice starter – even Annabelle tried a bit.
When it comes to the mains, it’s probably best to highlight the options that stand out and really catch the eye.
There are ‘sensational salads’, which all come with the same base – mixed leaves, spring onion, carrot spirals and a drizzle of olive oil – but the customer then has chance to add to it to make the dish of their own design.
First you add either pulled rotisserie chicken, avocado and cherry tomato, grilled halloumi or sliced rump steak, and then top it with cauliflower and kale brown rice, giant spiced couscous or wholegrain mustard potato salad.
Finally, you can add either kale slaw, Asian slaw or cucumber chutney and the dish is complete. Quite a few variations to choose from.
But, like I said, it was hard for me to look passed the chicken so I opted for the ‘create your own rotisserie experience’.
First you choose either a half or whole chicken, or meal ideal for two, which is a whole chicken, and four buttermilk chicken goujons.
Then you add the sauce: Hunter’s No 1 – a sticky barbecue sauce, with crispy bacon and melting cheddar cheese – southern-style chicken gravy, piri piri, garlic mushroom, jerk or Thai sweet chilli. Side orders choices are: skin-on fries; spiced cauliflower and kale brown rice; mac and cheese; fire fries – which are skin-on fries sprinkled with Tabasco seasoning – jacket potato; mashed potatoes; kale slaw; corn on the cob; Asian slaw; salad; pit beans; or vegetables.
Again, it means you can make your meal as indulgent or healthy as you like.
Eventually, after much debate, I decided to have the full roasted chicken, served with piri piri sauce, Asian slaw and the fire fries for extra kick – and also to make sure no-one could steal any.
I’ve got to be honest, I was about half way through the chicken when I realised half would have sufficed.
I can eat a lot but a whole chicken? It seemed a bit over the top and although I could have ploughed on it seemed silly to to ruin the whole day suffering with stomach ache.
I know, far too grown up.
The food, however, was delicious. There’s something so lovely about a freshly-roasted chicken (I am salivating as I write this) and when it’s smothered in a slightly-spicy sauce, there aren’t many tastier meals.
The sauce was quite thick and had plenty of flavour. It wasn’t particularly spicy so for those who may be worried about too much chilli, I actually think you’d be OK.
The chicken was perfect too. Crispy skin, succulent meat, slightly charred in places – but in a way that gives it that lovely barbecued/charcoal taste – it ticked all the boxes.
That was also one of the reasons I decided not to eat the whole meal; I didn’t want to ruin what I’d already had. Plus they kindly wrapped the rest in tin foil and let me take it home.
Add to the chicken the fire fries, again with a lovely, slight hint of spice, and Asian slaw, which held its flavour and wasn’t drowned in mayonnaise, it all came together to produce a delicious dish.
The children’s menu had the usual offerings: chicken dippers, pasta, burgers. Annabelle, usually a pasta fiend, wanted nuggets so after a small debate we managed to convince her that dippers and nuggets were the same thing. She also wanted side orders of beans and sweetcorn, rather than chips or mash but the staff immediately said that would be not problem and, as Kelly was ordering a side of sweet potatoes fries, everyone was happy.
Annabelle really enjoyed her food. The chicken was nice and crispy on the outside and tender in the middle.
Kelly was drawn to the street kitchen menu, which appears to be getting more and more popular, but doesn’t particularly cater for veggies. Options included chicken tacos, chicken and waffles, Katsu chicken curry, and mac and cheese. Kelly went for the chunky chilli tortilla – a grilled tortilla topped with mixed leaves and rustic chilli, with butternut squash, sweet red peppers, corn, black beans and kale.Flavoured with lime, coriander and smoky chipotle chilli, it was also drizzled with sriracha and she chose to add grilled halloumi and pulled rotisserie chicken for good measure.
While she doesn’t really like spicy food, the helpful waitress advised it wouldn’t be too hot – and she was right.
Very tasty was the verdict, but the additional halloumi and chicken definitely helped make the meal what it was.
Service was good throughout our meal, with staff bringing sauces and drinks whenever we wanted them.
The Waggon & Horses is a lovely pub and my advice would be not to drive passed it. Pop in and see what it’s all about.