The tagline ‘Meat. Bread. Beer.’ plus the avid promotion of hot scotch eggs almost put me off visiting Pint Shop as I was worried that this simplified rendering of their menu would leave little choice and potentially bland, beige coloured ‘GB’ flavours. How wrong I was.
Settled in the quieter downstairs dining area, surrounded by white panels and invasive low hanging overhead lights with a house G’n’T (Adnams Copper, £5.20 with tonic) I was impressed by the range of food on offer. Curries, kebabs, steaks, salads, and an interesting selection of starters all sounded tantalising and we deliberated about our options for a while.
Finally, we chose one of the safer-sounding starters of cauliflower cheese croquettes (£5). These golden blobs of delight were crispy on the outside and smooth and gooey in the middle. Although pureed cauliflower cheese doesn't sound appealing, it was a greatly comforting addition, especially with the stout mayonnaise to add some bitter tones to the creaminess.
For her main course, my companion opted for the beer brined three-piece of chicken with garlic butter and fries (£12.50). She said it was mainly tender and juicy, but one cut was sadly drier than the others. The generous amount of garlic butter accompanying the chicken was very potent, thanks to the use of wild garlic which was a nice seasonal touch.
My devilled lamb shoulder flatbread with crispy onions (£12) was impressive. What really stood out was the use of fresh mint, fresh coriander and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds which lifted what was essentially a high quality kebab into a taste sensation. The lamb fell apart and was slightly spicy; the mint yogurt provided coolness that kept the heat of the chilli sauce and the acidity of the pickled cabbage in check, and I enjoyed the thoughtful pickled jalapeños on the side.
Despite our mains being very good, we both agreed that the best part of our meal were the fries (£3.50). Since visiting, I've experienced serious cravings for these beauties and am yet to find a better fry. They were crispy without compromising on the consistency of the potato filling (as is common with overly-airy fries), well seasoned and were a decently sized portion. We agreed that they were all like the precious crispy ones you save for last. These fries alone make me want to return to Pint Shop on an unhealthily regular basis.
It’s worth mentioning that our server, Rhiannon, was fantastic – attentive and chatty, she made the visit all the more enjoyable. My one criticism is of the décor; my companion became irritated by the low hanging light which was directly over our table which she kept banging her head on. Won’t someone please think of the taller members of society?!
Sadly we didn’t have time to sample their indulgent sounding puddings but I am a convert to the Pint Shop way. Don’t be fooled by their humble simplification of what they offer; their food sounds simple but is well thought out in terms of flavour combinations, and generous in portion size. Enjoy their huge selection of gin then head downstairs and try out their food. It’s the perfect place for a quick dinner or a more leisurely bite to eat with friends.
Total: £38.20 for a starter, two mains, a side of fries and a gin and tonic.