Anyway, the Cpae of Godo Hpoe was taken over by new management late last year, which, coupled with a redevelopment and a new menu, definitely qualifies it for a review (or should that be re-review). One feature of the New and Improved Cape is a packed schedule of events; whether it’s close-up-magic on Mondays, a pub quiz (with an unusually generous £30 first prize) on Tuesdays, or live music pretty much always, the place tends to be lively, and by lively I mean loud and busy. Fortunately for those who prefer a quieter pubbing experience, the vagaries of the English summer keep the “garden” at the back relatively quiet, but if you are in the main bar, expect it to be on the hectic side of crowded.
Still, they manage to get the food out fast no matter how busy the place gets (which isn’t necessarily a good sign, of course). The menu encompasses the firm favourites of pub grub- burgers’n’fish’n’pie’n’chips- but some have a refreshing twist to tempt even the more jaded appetite. Lamb burgers with tzatziki, mascarpone and Chianti lasagne, wasabi and crab fishcakes sit next to more traditional pies and pork products like winebar refugees in a village pub- slightly out-of-place, but intriguing nonetheless. Our party decided to sample both types of dish. First on the “less usual” list was the Taster Plate for two to share, replete with garlic bread, tiny burgers impaled on kebab skewers, hummus and calamari. One of the nice things about this menu is that it does actually give you options between “pack of crisps” and “pie and mash”, with a selection of dishes that would make fine individual starters, or work as somewhere between snack and appetiser when split between a group.
The taster plate did pretty much what it promised, with cute bitesize burgers and simply fantastic crispy garlic flatbread. My fish and chips were very nice- although accompanied by extremely minty mushy peas and tartare sauce complete with whole capers, the fish seemed a little lacklustre. My companion thought the steak, mushroom and ale pie disappointing- not at all bad, but not as delicious as the menu had promised. The pork belly, on the other hand, was pronounced “luscious”, exactly the right mix of crispy and tender, with excellent mustardy mash and (a distinct pub rarity) perfectly-cooked leeks.
Special praise here should be reserved for the Cape’s chips, which skirted the razor-thin line between soggy and burnt to emerge satisfyingly large, combining roast-potato softness within and satisfying crunchiness without. It’s a little detail that was done exactly right- which, to be honest, the Cape needs more of. All the broad strokes on this menu are good. The meat is reassuringly meaty*, the servings are generous, the prices reasonable, the selection broad enough to give variety without inducing paralysis. A few tiny tweaks on each dish- an extra option on the selection platter here, a slightly less grilled burger there- would push this meal out of “good pub grub” into “worth a detour” territory.
Except the pork belly. That was bloody perfect.
*In case you think I’m carnivore-biased, my vegetarian friend pronounced the non-meat options to be perfectly adequate, even if the crudités were a little wilted.