The Star, Rhodyate Hill, Congresbury, Bristol BS49 5AJ
I was invited to the Star for a meal out with my mother, brother and husband last Wednesday. My mother insisted that I should just forget about the blog for the evening, but me being me, I like to write and share these things with you all and give you all an honest account of where to or where not to eat.
The Star in Congesbury is run by Greene King, and as Wolfie has worked for a chain establishment before, we both had our reservations. Nonetheless, so as not to be unappreciative guests, we happily agreed to join them.
Price Range: ££
Wolfie ordered: Large mid-week carvery with pigs in blankets
I ordered: Standard mid-week carvery with pigs in blankets
Wolfie and I were told a lot of good things about the food in this establishment and yet truthfully, when you’ve eaten some of the best meals establishments (*Ahem* White Lion *Ahem*) like we have, you sort of have a standard that you expect “good food” to be, and sadly this wasn’t it. The carrots were tasty but quite hard, the roast potatoes were dry and tasteless, the Yorkshire puddings were chewy and the meats were more salty than they were flavourful. I stocked up on the sage and onion stuffing (an undeniable addiction of mine), only to find it to be a tasteless, unpalatable mush and the gravy so lumpy that I felt ill almost as soon as I tipped the ladle. Before we left home, Wolfie and I considered the menu as neither of us really fancied a roast dinner in the middle of the week, and yet nothing really caught our attention, with the “crushed poppadom and curry sauce on chips” sounded like nothing short of a multicultural culinary abomination. The dessert menu was just as unappealing, with apple pie or a non-descript “fudge cake” on the list. I had no qualms about stocking up a little on the carvery as I knew I wouldn’t be making room for dessert, but even the carvery itself wasn’t worth the effort. Two stars.
The Star really does have some stars, and those stars are in their staff, who were all smiling and more than happy to assist. Nothing was ever too much trouble, and when my Brother asked for a large piece of turkey skin (which he later couldn’t eat!), the server was more than happy to oblige. Any time the staff were spoken to they were more than happy to make pleasant conversation about anything, even past visits. They did, however lose a star when I was told that they don’t stock Australian Old Mout Cider – In all my years of visiting pubs and restaurants, they have to be one of, if not the first establishment not to sell it!
When I arrived at The Star, the first thing to invade my nostrils wasn’t the smell of hot food, but rather hot grease. The outside of the building looked tired, with large areas of chipped and weathered paint on the walls. The car park itself is full of pot holes and has a slight camber, potentially making it difficult for wheelchair users. Inside, the predominantly wooden structure manages to feel warm and homely but also dark and dusty at the same time and a network of confusing tiled passageways between the tables and dusky peach evidently-artificial flower arrangements keeps the venue feeling tired and old. The toilets are tucked away and not clearly signposted, making them hard to find on your first visit.
For the carvery, patrons are given a ticket (two if you also order pigs in blankets) which you hand to the server in order to receive your plate and meats. I found this system somewhat dehumanising and probably would have preferred to order my choices from the table. When we queued for our food, I noticed a dollop of mashed potato on the floor, which remained there even after we left. Two of the wait staff who weren’t serving us were also having a jolly good chat with another member of staff, making it difficult to get back to our table with our meals.
My family and myself were seated out in a conservatory which we all found rather cold on a typically rainy spring day in Britain. Even an overhead heater or two would have kept us all warmer, and our meals with it. Instead, we all felt the chill and the once-hot gravy was cool and glutinous within ten minutes of us sitting down.
I firmly believe that the clientele in an establishment tell you a lot about the kind of place you are stepping into, and some of the louder behaviour I saw later in the night didn’t leave me feeling particularly comfortable. On my way to the facilities, I accidentally stepped out in front of an older gent carrying a beer and I immediately apologised, only to then be grunted at. Perhaps he’d had one too many beverages for some basic human interaction?
Overall, I’m saddened that our experiences of this establishment wasn’t what my brother and mother rated it to be. I hoped that, for the area, the food would be quite exceptional, so I was saddened to find that it was most likely mass produced from ingredients not local to home. I still enjoyed my evening if only for the service and the company, but would I return if the opportunity arose? Probably not. An unfortunate three stars.
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