The Horseshoe and Castle is a real country pub situated in the quiet village of Cooling. We called in on a Friday evening as our imaginations failed to conjure anything from the two rashers of bacon and half a birthday cake that were skulking in our fridge.
Having read about it in Adrian Bellville’s column we had needed an excuse to try it. We were greeted by a cheerful young lady and around ten people chatting in the bar. She showed us through to a table and there were already two other tables occupied, handing us some menus she went to get our drinks. The menu was not huge, this served as a relief to me as choice is one of those concepts that has me all flustered. We both chose the mushroom starter but voted seperately for the main course, a mixed grill and a sea food linguine. Now you have not had mushrooms on toast until you have had them here! It is amazing, delicate and creamy with the mushrooms cut into fairly small pieces, served on toast with a rocket salad and the smallest drizzle of olive oil. A real triumph, with a familiar dish, outstanding 10/10

Our main courses arrived the seafood linguine again was like none I have had before. A huge variety of seafood in a rich creamy sauce with just the mere hint of bite to the pasta and a huge flavour from the seafood running through it. I am convinced that any Italian restaurant would be proud to serve this dish. My partners’ mixed grill was also excellent, in the first place it was a proper one, with steak, gammon, sausage, kidney and a small lamb chop, you don’t often get that these days. It was all cooked to perfection. It looked so good I stole a very small piece of each and the gammon was superb, beautifully tender and moist with the most succulent thin layer of fat along one side. Good thick cut chips and a selection of vegetables again cooked very well with all the individual flavours preserved.

Our deserts were excellent, we both had Tiramisu, not very imaginative of us I know but we were not officially on a mission to this restaurant so were not under orders to review it. However when I have a meal like this and given that I told John I would help out with this column I feel duty bound to report the outstanding where I find it.

This is a great place to go, the decor reflects the interests of the landlord and as such you do get the feeling that you have been welcomed into someone’s home for dinner. That makes the evening a bit more special even if you do not share those interests. All in all it was an evening that could not have turned out better, we had good food in a place that knows how to look after its beer and wine and they clearly know how to choose a chef too. Try it if you haven’t already. 12 out of 10 guys and girls

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