Food review: Running Horse, Bewdley
It was all about family. Dinner out with the parents and my significant other at a pub/restaurant that’s been a go-to place for many a meal out.
The Running Horse Inn has seen some changes over the years with managers coming and going – it’s now a Chef and & Brewer – part of the Greene King chain of pubs – and a fair few revamps, changing its decor as time goes by.
The latest revamp has a vintage mingled with modern shabby chic style which suits the 19th Century building perfectly.
It’s on the main road from Bewdley heading in to the wilds of Shropshire and, despite the passing traffic, is a quiet haven for enjoying some food out.
Inside it’s all timber beams, brick fireplaces and sepia pictures showing people and the town in a past life which adds a nostalgic feel to the surrounds.
It was a Monday night and there were a steady flow of diners, but it certainly wasn’t packed to the rafters. Unfortunately for some odd reason it seemed all a little disorganised for so early on in the evening. Our booking had been made online and was nowhere to be seen, but it was no big drama as there were a fair few tables free. We chose a table tucked away and sat scouring the menu after placing the drinks order: Beers for the boys, water for the women.
It took a while to make a choice of what to eat with a couple of us playing the I’m-only-going-decide-at-the-last-minute-when-the-waitress-comes-to-take-our-order game. Oh the fun we had!
Starters were a no-go. We ummed and ahhed but me and mine didn’t fancy anything and the parents shunned them too.
On to the mains: steak and ale pie was the dish of choice for my mum but she swapped the mash for chips and snubbed the Ruddles ale gravy too instead ordering extra seasonal vegetables on the side.
Brewer’s chicken with barbecue sauce, grilled back bacon, melted smoked Cheddar, chips, coleslaw and garden peas was my dad’s choice with a side of onion rings he kindly offered to share with yours truly.
I finally decided on the oven-baked lasagne made with farm-assured British beef in red wine sauce, with garlic ciabatta and dressed salad. I went for a side of seasonal veg just from a health and wellbeing point of view. Five-a-day and all that.
Man of the moment went for a proper bloke meal: 9oz rump steak, well done, with peppercorn sauce. This also came with chips, a crispy onion wedge, grilled tomato, button mushrooms and an iceberg lettuce wedge drizzled with honey and mustard. Not satisfied with that mountainous meal, he also went for a garlic ciabatta. You can never have too many carbs!
The waitress was polite and pleasant taking down our order and heading off to the kitchen.
The atmosphere was pretty laid back and calm which made us all feel relaxed and content as we waited for the grub to arrive. We chattered away caught up in conversation so it took us a while to realise that the food seemed to be taking some time. More than seemed acceptable for the amount of clientele in the pub.
Not too worry we filled the gaps with more chit chat and giggles praying the chef was getting a wiggle on.
When they did arrive all was good. Although no sooner had the plates been deposited on the table by the waitress, another member of staff quickly appeared asking if our meals were alright.
We’d barely had the chance to put fork to mouth, as my mother informed her, and also when asked if we wanted her to return and check in a while mum requested politely that she didn’t bother. Nothing worse than constant interruptions to a meal.
The presentation seemed rather simple but then again what can you really do with a pie, steak, chicken breast and dish of baked lasagne?
What was really important was the flavours of the food. So here goes.
The lasagne was tasty and the red wine sauce was rich, delicious and full of flavour and subtle seasoning but the only drawback there just wasn’t enough of it. Boo.
The ratio of pasta: bechamel sauce: beef, wasn’t as equal as it could’ve been. There was way too much sauce, which was gorgeously smooth and creamy, and not enough of the beef. It did taste amazing and I snaffled the lot.
The bit of salad on the side was dressed in a mustardy-flavoured sauce which was tangy and tart, but refreshing at the same time.
The garlic ciabatta was a tad on the doughy side and lacked any depth of garlicky flavour but the seasonal veg was a nice addition. My all-time favourite peas (and they were perfectly plumpcious), broccoli and carrot were all wonderfully cooked with lots of fresh flavours.
My dad and I both agreed that the onion rings were a hit. There were nine of them and a reasonable size too which was more than enough. Quite often they can be a little limp and greasy but these had a really crunchy, crispy batter encasing a ring of onion with plenty of bite. Really lovely. Good choice us.
On to the man steak. It was a really nice hunk of meat with no fat and was cooked exactly as he likes it. Well, that’s good isn’t it? Nothing worse than it not meeting your requirements but the chef did himself proud.
The peppercorn sauce was lovely, thick and creamy but the portion size was a little on the small size. He’d gone for the chips that were chunky and crisp. The onion wedge got the seal of approval and was a nice touch, but the plate was overwhelmed with the ever so slightly odd addition of a huge portion of lettuce. Why? It seemed somewhat incongruous amidst all the other food.
The side of garlic ciabatta looked rather anaemic and lost on the plate just plonked on without any garnish or something to zhuzh it up. And, with the £2.59 price tag, it wasn’t value for money at all – especially as it arrived a couple of minutes after the main dish.
The pie was a big hit. Mum ploughed her way through the perfectly cooked veg, the chunky chips (again tasting as they should) and the huge shortcrust pastry meat-filled pie polishing the lot off stating it was delicious and filling.
Dad made light work of the Brewer’s chicken saying it was ‘middling’ as meals go, the sauce having a tangy zing to it, complementing the smoky bacon and salty cheese flavours. He was keen to point out: “It wasn’t the best Brewer’s chicken I’ve had, but not the worst.” He did enjoy his Peroni though!
The pub had emptied quite a bit by this point and we deliberated over the dessert menu but given the time it had taken for our mains we were reluctant to wait for any kind of sugar hit so requested the bill instead.
Had I been ordering I was smitten with the Eton mess sundae which was Eton mess ice cream, crushed meringue, white chocolate mousse, raspberry coulis and fresh strawberries which sounded rather refreshing.
The whole meal came in just over £70 which is a pretty standard price for a pub meal these days although seemed a smidgen high considering we didn’t have any starters or desserts and only two of us were drinking alcohol.
The place certainly looks warm and welcoming and the staff friendly and polite – despite seeming a little harassed during our visit – but there is room for improvement on the food side of things. As it’s one of our family favourites it’s somewhere we will always return to for a quick bite and a quiet catch-up in convivial surroundings.