Written on: 05/11/2011 by ClareWalker (1 review written)
Having been a long standing customer of The Holly Bush some 10 years ago I did not hesitate to take up a Groupon offer to eat there again.
Much is as before - cosy if very small olde worlde bar area and generally a very nice atmosphere from locals and staff.
The restaurant has been remodelled and is all the better for it. Intimate and nicely lit.
We were early diners and were invited by a less than charming 'maitre de' for the want of a better title to sit by the waiters station and kitchen door. Odd when with the exception of three other tables with couples the place was empty.
My partner requested we could sit at another table made up for two and the manager (maitre) was extremely off hand and refused initially. When my partner pointed out he and I disliked sitting by the kitchen door and in such immediate proximity to their cash register/chitty chatty point/ cutlery polishing rostrum - the back of my chair was against their thigh at one point he relented.
So beware getting that table readers - it seats four.
The same man took our food order and his manner was clipped and charmless, he made no effort to disguise his annoyance that we had had the temerity to ask to be moved.
So a better table and ourselves seated what of the food....... Frankly it was shocking. Starters for myself amounted to a sliver of non descript pork terrine. It was simply the meanest thinnest piece of terrine I have ever had presented - had it been foi gras I would have considered it small. My partner had blue brie deep fat fried in what amounted to three pieces of what he described as entirely tasteless hot cheese, quite were the blue brie had entered the equation was unknown. Again the size of the brie if put together would have constituted one large mouth full.
These starters would have cost £6 and £6-50 truly outrageous for the quality and quantity of food presented.
Main courses were equally disappointing and in one case especially so. I ordered the fillet of pork stuffed and in this case the food was barely edible, the pork was chewy and tough - some achievement for fillet whilst the on plate vegetables amounted a spoonful of potato mash spooned beneath the four very small pieces of pork, accompanying this was five yes five chantenay carotts and what appeared to be a pea jus.
I eat out both with work and socially and I have never had such poor food presented to me. Indeed I have never been sufficiently bothered to write a review before!
My partners steak was ordered medium and when it arrived I have to say it looked convincingly the better option. OK the steak was small and for £18-50 I would have expected it to be sized on the menu - it was in fact to my experienced eye an 8 ounce sirloin - so for the price it needed to be pretty good.
Sadly it was presented blue and I mean blue, the faces had been seared but 90% of the steak was exactly how it had left the butcher.
To their credit it was replaced without fuss and with a smile. Its replacement was fine with the caveat that a pile of salad leaves and a skinned whole tomato made up the bulk of what was on the plate.
In summary it appears The Holly Bush has taken the view less is more in terms of portion sizes and the quality of both the ingredients and the care taken in cooking them leaves much to be desired.
Aside of the restaurant manager the waitresses were smiley and helpful but could not overcome a very poor eating out experience and one I will not be repeating even with a Groupon discount.
Which is a shame as I have good memories of eating there regularly in the past.