review by Janine Pulford
When you fancy a homemade, traditional pub meal, The Old Inn at Holt hits the spot with its plentiful menu. You will also find another very popular dish included because this Hall & Woodhouse pub has a real wood-fired oven, where delicious pizzas are topped with fresh ingredients and cooked in minutes.
The Old Inn was beautifully refurbished a year ago and has a large restaurant, bar, a pizza terrace, outside picnic benches and a comfortable cigar lounge for smokers. Though covered and with protection from the wind, this lounge is open to the outdoors and has its own wood-burning stove and overhead heaters for the winter months. Havana cigars are available from the bar.
We parked in a huge car park opposite the pub and once inside, Connor took us to our seats near the open fire. He served my favourite, elderflower pressé, and Nick enjoyed an Amstel lager.
It was a chilly night and Nick, my husband, wanted an out of the ordinary soup. He found it on the specials menu. Curried butternut squash with lentil and coconut, with crusty bread. This thick, smooth soup had a rich rounded flavour with a hot kick, balanced by mellow notes of coconut. The seeded baguette was warm and crispy. It was a hearty start for a man who does not usually choose to eat butternut squash, and it vanished with approval.
I wanted traditional and opted for a real 60s dish. There were plenty of prawns and the home-made Rose Marie sauce zinged, the lettuce was fresh and crunchy and the slice of lemon finished it off. Delicious. I only managed half a slice of bread as it was such a generous prawn cocktail.
In keeping with his theme, Nick ordered Thai chicken curry. It had delicate flavours enhanced by the kaffir lime leaves and a beautiful lilting coconut signature. The rice was cooked well and Nick enjoyed the pea shoot garnish.
My pan-fried sea bass from the specials menu came recommended and it was deserving of it. The
distinctive flavour of the perfectly cooked soft fillets was delightful. Sitting on a bed of sautéed potatoes, the two fillets were garnished with shredded onion and ginger and were served with a fresh side salad. Again, a man-sized and delicious portion.
Most ingredients at The Old Inn are sourced locally and the pub has been in the hands of Ollie for the last four years. His father Simon, who has been in the industry since he was 13, helps out and joined us for a chat. He mentioned that the bar has a selection of over 40 gins, which took my breath away. He also said the menu changes quarterly, and there is always a special menu. The key mains are steak and kidney pie, and liver and bacon. Sweeter favourites are jam roly-poly and spotted dick. Sunday roasts are very popular.
He said, “We make all the desserts. We are consistent with the food and do simple home cooking well.”
This was showcased when I chose the chocolate fondant. It took 15 minutes to prepare, but it was worth the wait. That warm chocolate sponge oozed with fondant filling and sat in a pool of caramel sauce. A heavenly pairing that was perfectly balanced by a quenelle of vanilla ice cream. It was simply a dream dessert.
Nick went for the lemon tart, clotted cream and raspberry sauce, which he found tasty and filling and it looked stunning on the plate.
Seating 75-80 people, the pub with all its charm and good cooking is a perfect place for a couple to dine near an open fire, or for a whole group to book a party.
Christmas Day was fully booked by the end of October, which proves just how popular this food-orientated pub is.