Food review: The Greyhound is haven for Wolverhampton foodies
Leigh Sanders and his family try out a lovely venue tucked away in one of the leafier alcoves on the outskirts of Wolverhampton
We'd just traipsed our way around Birmingham's NEC casting our eyes over the latest wares at the huge trade expo The Baby Show.
It was an eye opener of an experience - not all for the right reasons, as you'd expect in a mass celebration of capitalism and the social pressures of being a modern parent in the Western World.
Our ankles were feeling the strain a bit - there were a couple of saw spots from being jostled and pushed past by children big and small alike.
The bus journey back to the car park had also been an interesting experience. Like a giant game of human Tetris, shoppers and bags packed onto the shuttle bus to get back towards our more comfortable personal vehicles.
So yeah, cooking was really, really low on the list of priorities.
We'd been recommended The Greyhound in Lower Penn by a close family member who had heard great things from their friends - the power of word-of-mouth praise standing strong in the modern era of social media.
So sort-of-slightly on-route, we meandered north-west from near Birmingham airport with high hopes of a tasty treat in our hearts.
Nestled at the junction of four rural roads in Lower Penn - Greyhound Lane, Dene Road, Springhill Lane and Market Lane - The Greyhound is off the beaten (dog) track of our main transport arteries and within walking distance of the River Stour and the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.
The building faces right onto the carriageway of Greyhound Lane, initially seeming quite small and compact, but as you turn onto the car park you realise looks can be deceiving. Down one side of the deceptively bigger building is a clean, well-kept patio dining area and this opens up onto a grassy dining lawn with picnic benches stretching back into the deep shade of some tall trees. That will be lovely for outside eating and drinking through the summer months.
Walking into the pub itself you walk straight past the bar and into an open-plan dining area that was clearly separate rooms in days gone by. It means that each table is nestled into a nook of its own so that you can hear the vibrancy and laughter of other diners but still retain an element of privacy - the best of both atmosphere and serenity.
There aren't too many tables we could see inside, making this a smaller and more intimate venue to dine. The staff, too, immediately gave off this impression. From the moment we walked in they could not have been more welcoming.
We had our 11-month-old son with us fresh from his visit to The Baby Show, and they involved him in the whole process, chatting to us and offering him crayons, an activity sheet and plenty of (one-way) conversation to try and keep him entertained. His smiles and babbles in return showed their plan to keep him calm for the sanity of the other diners present was working.
None of it felt false. They took an interest in our day, asked what kind of drinks we usually liked and offered some recommendations on meals too.
The menu here is small and concise. There aren't reams of added extras and sections to browse. You don't immediately feel a sense of sheer FOMO (fear of missing out) that one badly made choice will leave you with an underwhelming meal while you glance enviously over at your partner's plate.
Sometimes it's nice just to sit down, have a quick look at the menu and have your order done and dusted so you can get on with looking forward to the main event.
It is also worth noting The Greyhound does an exceptionally priced early bird menu which is also available on weekends for those who can't often get out and about during the working week.
Between noon and 2.30pm and 5.30pm and 7pm on weekdays and noon and 6pm on Saturdays you can get a one-course meal for £7, two courses at £11 and a whole three-course meal for just £15 to fill those bellies up.
We selected off the main menu on this occasion and opted to share a starter. The bread and olives consisted of white, brown and granary selections and mixed marinated olives with balsamic oil and sun dried tomatoes.
It was ample, the bread was warm and the two-and-a-half of us tucked in with gusto brought on by rumbling bellies and a keen sense of smell ignited when the food was placed down.
The bread was absolutely gorgeous and soaked up the oil easily. There was a lot of it for two, without seeming too much or too filling. The olives were just the right texture - firmer olives are a big no-no for me - and we were gutted when the bread ran out.
But never mind, we had more to come.
For the little man we had ordered one of their children’s pizzas, a simple Margherita for little hands. This had a lovely, firm base which made mashing it up between fingers a little harder.
In fact the biggest compliment of all is that it all went in his mouth. Parents will know all about the thrill of children playing with their food while out dining. But rather than the usual staining of the clothes through spilt food and sticky fingers covered in toppings he devoured it.
I had the BBQ chicken - a chicken breast smothered in barbecue sauce and topped with bacon and melted cheese, served with hand cut chips, homemade coleslaw and house salad.
This was beautiful. I loved the extra tangy nature of the sauce which complimented the usual meaty flavours brought forward by the chicken and bacon. The chips carried enough crunch for my tastes - I dislike thick, soft wads of potato - and the coleslaw was absolutely beautiful.
The chicken was also a good size too. So often with these dishes you end up with a small, dry, bit of meat that needs every drop of help from the sauce to make it edible. Not here, it was cooked perfectly.
My other half had the homemade steak and ale pie which consists of tender steak and rich ale gravy with a puff pastry top, with either cut chips or creamy mash, carrots and garden peas.
She thought the pie was “really lovely”, and the steak chunks were really plump, not your usual scrimp on the good stuff fillings a lot of pubs will serve as steak costs them that little bit more.
However, she did think the pastry was a little too flaky and it made it impossible to pick up with the fork as it disintegrated a bit on her plate. It didn’t take away from the dish too much though, and it got the thumbs up.
We still had room for a dessert – let’s be honest, it would be rude not to – so asked for the menus back to see what else we could sink our teeth into.
I had the lemon drizzle sundae, which came with chunks of lemon cake, meringue, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream mixed into the tall glass.
At first I thought it was going to be a little bland. The top layer of the cream and meringue didn’t pack too much punch. But once I’d delved down into the cake chunks and ice cream the citrus tang oozed out and I was in sweet-toothed heaven.
My partner had the white and dark chocolate brownie with crushed raspberries, and vanilla ice cream.
She ‘ooh’-ed and ‘aah’-ed her way through this one and had most of it gone before little man realised something nice was on the table and came begging for a taste. She said it was rich and moist and was full of flavour.
So we settled up and had one last chat with the staff about our stay before heading off into the mid-afternoon haze.
For small family occasions or a quiet meal out to celebrate an achievement you can do far worse than check out this neat little haven tucked away in one of the leafier alcoves on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.