One of the youngest members of the Hungry Horse family, The Super Mare, opened on the Weston Gateway Park in February this year. It is rated 68 out of the 204 rated eateries in the Weston area on Tripadvisor, so it is in the higher middle of the road. It was only right to see how the pub was getting on now it’s been a part of the area for just over six months. One of the biggest concerns when the chain opened was its location, it’s a left turn off a busy dual carriageway that serves as the main route to the M5 motorway. As well as it being a slight pain to get to, there’s nothing in the immediate area apart from offices in the seemingly half-finished business park. This means you have to make the journey to get there rather than enjoy visiting a place and then visiting the pub because it is just there, like you probably would with the Brewer’s Fayre in the town centre.
But it doesn’t seem to deter too many as the car park still tends to be full. This might have had something to do with it being quiz night but that, along with music acts and a different Hungry Horse deal everyday, is something that will keep people coming back. Thursdays see customers earn a free starter or dessert with every big plate special meal, as long as you order all the food at the same time. All the deals are pretty good and help add value to the already pretty cheap restaurant chain.
When you enter the Super Mare you are instantly hit the atmosphere of a busy pub with music that is slightly too loud to enhance your sense of its business. Before you’ve even settled down or looked for a table you are hit with their promotions and prize draw. The latter sounds good as it is a £100 cash prize, but it turns out to be a £100 voucher to be used within 28-days of winning which although is a very generous prize, it’s not as substantial as £100 in note form.
With the pub pretty busy, you’d probably expect to wait a while for your food but it arrived within about 10-20 minutes of ordering which was a bit of a surprise. To the impatient among us, you would probably feel like this is a good thing. But it always raises the question over how fresh the food actually is considering the speed at which it arrived at our table.
It would appear that the Super Mare has reverted to a system that isn’t too unfamiliar with Hungry Horse pubs. At the beginning the food tastes very fresh, it’s extremely hot and pretty faultless. But after the pub becomes established, the quality of the food seems to drop quite a bit and can sometimes be disappointing. This has been noted on Tripadvisor that the food wasn’t as good as it used to be and is a similar story to the way the Catherine’s Inn was in Bleadon. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g191282-d6110021-Reviews-The_Super_Mare_Hungry_Horse-Weston_super_Mare_Somerset_England.html
The food we were given wasn’t inedible or even that bad tasting, but it wasn’t the best meal that’s perished at my hands. Financially, the mixed grill being £9.99 is a fantastic price for a lot of food especially with a dessert coming for free. The gammon came out very greasy, almost like it was cooked a la bacon and definitely didn’t have the salty meaty taste you associate with gammon. The steak was medium rare and although it was cooked to the way ordered, it was a very small, very fatty piece of meat. This made extremely it hard to cut, even with a steak knife, which decreased the taste somewhat.
The other meal was ribs with coleslaw and chips. Ribs are quite difficult to get right and unfortunately the Super Mare didn’t. Again this is a similar story to the Catherine’s Inn as the ribs had minimal barbecue sauce on them, if that. Without the sauce, the ribs tend to have very little taste and are usually pretty dry, in a similar way to chicken as a chicken breast is never really tasty on its own. A good rib usually falls right of the bone, but this was a wrestling match to the death and sometimes the bones were hidden in the meat which left a nasty surprise in the mouth.
Although a small part of the meal, the coleslaw was the poorest coleslaw that has ever been witnessed. The mayonnaise and carrots were on the extremely stingy side and was served on a bed of a lettuce leaf which arguably should have been shredded and included in the small portioned side.
For those who are driving or simply choose not to drink, there’s a part of a drinks menu that is seemingly becoming increasingly popular, the mocktail. The Hungry Horse chain does incorporate these in their menu with three of their own infusions. Their best one is arguably their simplest which is called Midnight at the Oasis. Despite its fancy name, this is just basically Coca-Cola mixed with Red Berry Oasis but it is extremely refreshing in its simplicity.
After the disappointing mains, the free desserts arrived and they were faultless. The Hungry Horse has arguably been pioneers with their ice cream desserts, most notably their famous Candymania. The Choc Fudge Brownie & Cookie Sundae had real pieces of cookies and brownies as advertised, but these tasted really fresh and made the sundae really tasty. The Eton Mess Raspberry Sundae is similar in the fact that the real meringue pieces complimented the vanilla ice cream before the sweet sharpness of the frozen raspberries kicked in.
Overall, it would seem that tripadvisor is about right in the ranking of The Super Mare. It would appear that what keeps the Hungry Horse firmly in business isn’t necessary the quality of its food but the fact that they have good deals at great prices in locations and pubs that look to have a good atmosphere. It did feel that The Super Mare isn’t as good as when it first opened, but now that it’s a settled member of the Weston pub scene, it’ll be one of those pubs that people will go to either on the hoof, excuse the pun, or when looking for a cheap but generous meal.
For pictures of both good and quality Hungry Horse dishes, just type in Hungry Horse mixed grill on Google images and judge for yourself.