Monday, July 30, 2007

Woodfield Farm a pub at Doncaster.

We went to visit friends this weekend at Doncaster, in South Yorkshire. The floods at Bentley and Toll Bar have now gone and the area is getting back to normal. Doncaster has developed over the years and has grown a lot since I traveled through the town in the 1980's.

Our friends, just like us, enjoy eating out regularly. Over time you get used to similar menus and a lot of pubs doing food are owned by large chains. You get used to having the same meals from the same chains all around the country. Your meal is no different whether you have it in Cardiff, Bristol, Weston-Super-Mare, Castleford or Doncaster. Wherever you go in the UK you see the same brands offering the same menus. You could be anywhere in the UK, it is all the same.

However, our friends on Saturday took us to the Woodfield Farm Pub, Woodfield Way, Balby, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN4 8SN which is on the way south from the town centre towards the M18 motorway. The style of building and car park looked very familiar so we knew the standard would be what you would expect from any national pub chain.

First impressions were that it was your standard pub chain building but there was no company logo to be seen anywhere. Then we saw the menu and this was different, not your usual pub fayre but food to excite the diner. Then at the food pay point there was a chilled cabinet were there were some deserts that had been made on the premises. Yes, food made on the premises, not food that comes in daily on a lorry from a distribution hub.

I looked at the bar in hope because most pubs that serve good food do not try very hard with the beer. What a lovely surprise I got as there was Courage Directors on hand pump, an old favourite of mine that I have drunk when available for over 25 years. It is now brewed by Wells and Young of Bedford but still retains it's unique character. There I was drinking a good quality real ale in the company of friends far from home, having a great weekend away.

The soup was an unusual vegetable variety, not your usual tomato soup that gives you the impression it came in a 32,000 litre tanker from some vast factory. My main course was a farmhouse beef pie but it was not a normal mass produced beef pie. It had a mashed potato top and the beef was seasoned with various herbs and spices. This was an absolute delight to eat, a definite hit.

The whole business was very well run and a refreshing change from the major operators where every branch is the same. The people of Doncaster are lucky to have such a fine, different and independent pub close to them. I wish we had a pub like this in Cardiff but the big chains appear to have the market stitched up between them.
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