OUT of all of the chained restaurants, Hungry Horse have arguably made the most wholesale changes this season. Not only are there quite a few new dishes to try, the whole menu has got a new look. Instead of the standard rectangular menu, there’s now a smaller, still practically rectangular, menu with a semi-circular indent that resemble file dividers which has the aim of taking you to where you want to on the menu more efficiently. Although this only seemed to last a little while as they soon reverted back to the old style menu but other restaurants may have stuck with it. The pictures have been taken from The Super Mare restaurant in Weston-Super-Mare.
The only new starter that Hungry Horse have added to the menu is basically a smaller version of their Taco Feast. Instead of four, there’s two of these BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos in that standard Mexican DIY style. The Tacos do have Lettuce already on the bottom and you have the selection of BBQ Pulled Pork, Cheese, Sour Cream, Jalapenos, Guacamole and Salsa to create your appetisers. It’s a decent sized starter and there’s enough of all of the bits to fill both of the Tacos. The only real negative to this is the Pulled Pork doesn’t really taste very smoky nor juicy as it should be smothered in BBQ Sauce. It’s a really good way to start your meal, Mexican themed or not. Price: £4.59.
English meets Mexican in what could already be a candidate for the most ingenious meal of the season. It even ticks the box for value for money as it’s only just over a fiver. Hungry Horse’s new Beef Yorkie Burrito takes a traditional Sunday Beef Roast smothered in Gravy and places it inside a giant Yorkshire Pudding which has become a really popular meal. But this Yorkshire Pudding isn’t laid flat on the plate, it’s rolled up in the style of a Burrito. The Beef was really tender and actually quite juicy with the Gravy oozing out of the Yorkie Burrito. The Burrito is accompanied with Chips and more Gravy to enjoy a proper Northern classic, Chips and Gravy. There’s also some Horseradish Sauce on the side for that extra kick. The only negative to this dish is that the Yorkshire Pudding was a bit tough without being smothered in Gravy. Price: £5.49.
One of the areas Hungry Horse have tried to invest in is their Burger section and have created a few new gourmet style Burgers. Mac and Cheese probably isn’t the first thing you would think of to put inside your Burger but that’s exactly what is inside the Smoky Mac Burger. The Burger and Mac ‘n’ Cheese are also accompanied by Spicy Sausage, Bacon, Mushrooms and Red Onions. It’s a bit of a Meat feast with most of the components that would you expect from a Burger and is actually quite messy. You can’t really taste any spice from the Sausage as the other Meats and Mac ‘n’ Cheese neutralises it. The Mac ‘n’ Cheese adds a bit of juicy quality to the Burger and the smokiness comes from the BBQ Sauce which you can either pour over your Fries or add it to the pretty full Burger. There’s also Coleslaw on the side to complete this relatively standard Burger with a nice twist to it. Price: £9.49.
After the monumental success of BBQ Pulled Pork, restaurants are now trying to do the same with different meats and Hungry Horse have gone for Pulled Chicken. They are also attempting their hand at producing a Caribbean flavour that’s become really popular recently in the form of Jerk Chicken. Their BBQ Clucking Jerk Burger combines the two as an upgrade to the standard Chicken Burger covered in breadcrumbs. The Burger is topped with Jerk BBQ Pulled Chicken and offers a saucy smoothness to oppose the crunch you get from the crisp battered Buttermilk Chicken Breast. Despite being coated in Jerk BBQ Sauce with an extra helping on the side, there’s isn’t really any heat that you would expect from a Jerk Chicken dish so don’t be put off by that. It’s not too different to a BBQ Chicken Burger but the added Pulled Chicken is a nice new touch. Price: £8.49.
The other of the new Burgers is their Slo Mo Beef Burger. On this visit the food arrived exactly five minutes after ordering which is was slightly off putting as it clearly wasn’t a freshly prepared meal. This Burger continues with the Pulled trend with Pulled Beef on top of this one. It’s also topped with both sauteed Red Onions as well as Spring Onions. There’s the usual accompaniment of Fries and Coleslaw but the most intriguing thing about this meal is that it came with two lots of Barbecue Sauce. One lot was warm and the other was cold. The Sauce in the jug, which wasn’t an awful lot, was Treacle and Bourbon Sauce which added a slight heat to it and when mixed with the Spring Onion it was almost like having a Duck meal with Hoisin Sauce. Again it was something a bit different with a charred Beef taste and worth trying. Price: £9.49.
For those who are looking for a Jerk Chicken dish, Hungry Horse have also created a dish in its own right. For £6.99 you get two Chicken Fillets with Mexican Rice, Mango Salsa, Salad, Chips and Coleslaw. You also get Sweet Potato Fries and a Corn on the Cob. For an extra £5 you can upgrade to the Big Plate Special where you get four Chicken Fillets. It’s not often that you get disappointed by the size of a Hungry Horse dish but the four Chicken Fillets only looked like two standard Chicken Breasts that you’d buy from a shop so you could be left rather hungry if you didn’t go for the Big Plate Special version. They were a bit stingy with the BBQ Sauce but you did get an extra pot on the side which helped. This meal is slightly hot but not the spiciest Jerk Chicken dish you’ll ever have. The heat actually comes from the Mexican Rice rather than the Chicken. The Mango Salsa opposes the spicy Rice and offers quite a fruity flavour. It is something different that other chains haven’t delved into yet but this isn’t the biggest Big Plate Special and therefore probably rather disappointing. Price: £11.99.
One new Big Plate Special dish you won’t get disappointed by is the 8oz Smothered Steak Sizzler, especially as it’s under a tenner. Served on a skillet, the Steak is on top of Onions, Peppers and smothered in Peppercorn Sauce. On the other side of the dish, there’s Chips topped with Cheese and Bacon, Mushrooms, Onion Rings and half a Tomato to really give you that proper grilled feeling. But what gives this dish an edge is the added accompaniment of Mac and Cheese. The Steak was really thick and juicy and this was a really filling meal. The Bacon and Cheese topped Chips offers another edge to the meal and worked really well. It’s a must for Steak fans who want something a bit different to their standard grilled meal. Price: £9.69.
Hungry Horse have also tried jazzing a pub classic in Pie and Chips with their new Chicken and Pancetta Pie. It’s a posh way of saying Chicken and Ham Pie and it’s a proper good old pub dish. The Pie is a full Pie with a Pastry body and lid with a latticed top and is accompanied with Chips and lashings of Gravy. There’s nice chunks of Chicken which are really tender and it’s exactly how you would want a Pie and Chips, creamy and flavourful. The Pancetta doesn’t really add much to the Pie and isn’t as salty as perhaps some Hams are in Chicken and Ham Pies. But it’s a good sized meal that you can’t go wrong with. Price: £6.99.
A trend that seems to coming to a lot of chain restaurants is the Open Burrito. This is basically a Tortilla base topped with all the various toppings you expect from a Mexican dish. From there you could either wrap it like you would for a Burrito or Fajita or just knife and fork it. Hungry Horse have gone for a Spicy Chicken Open Burrito and this too was one of those dishes that arrived after just five minutes and there wasn’t really that much Chicken in the meal. It also incorporates the latest healthy eating trends with Barley Wheat and Quinoa included. You then get the shredded Lettuce, Cheese, Salsa, Sour Cream, Guacamole, Jalapenos and Peppers to accompany the Chicken. Without the Jalapenos, this dish isn’t very hot so don’t be put off by the heat sign on the menu. It’s basically a different way to eat the same thing, the added Bulgar Wheat and Quinoa don’t really add anything to the meal other than healthy goodness. Without Chips or even Nachos, this meal is slightly bland after a while and someone the openness makes it blander than a rolled up Burrito. For the health buffs, this is probably a good meal for you but this won’t be the most awe-inspiring dish on the menu. Price: £7.49.
Last season, Hungry Horse produced the Sweet Shop Sharer destined to bring out the inner child in everyone. Equipped with Bubblegum and Vanilla Ice Cream, Sweets, Marshmallows, Maltesers and Popping Candy, this Dessert had everything to make you feel like that proverbial child in a sweet shop. That has now been replaced by a singular Sweetshop Mania Sundae. Everything that was in the original sharer has now been bunged together into one Sundae, apart from the Fizz Wizz. The combination of the Ice Creams has Strawberry Sauce drizzled on it and is topped by the Sweets and Marshmallows. There’s also Cream and a packet of Popping Candy to pour onto the Dessert or to enjoy on its own. The Sundae costs £4.99 or for an extra £1 you could upgrade to the Ultimate Big Sweetshop Mania. For the extra £1 you get four more scoops of Ice Cream, one extra Bubblegum and three Vanilla, and a second packet of Popping Candy. It’s the same price as the previous Sweet Shop Sharer but to be enjoyed in a different manner that’s similar to the world famous Candy Mania.
Hungry Horse have also done their bit to rejuvenate some real classics. They’ve brought out a Bread and Butter Pudding that’s destined to take you back to your school days. To give it a bit of a twist, they’ve added Black Cherry and Maple flavouring to give the dessert a bit of a tang to oppose the sweetness of the Sugar. As you’d expect, the dessert comes with plenty of Custard to moisten the pudding. It’s one of those puddings where you know exactly what you’re going to get and is always popular. Price: £4.99.
Another classic that’s now on the menu is in the form of Baked Alaska. This is a really nice, sweet pudding. In the bowl sits a Cookie with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream on top of it. The Ice Cream is smothered in Forest Fruits to add a real tang and is hidden under a layer of melted Meringue which is thicker and has a bit of an extra sweetness because of its melted texture. It’s quite a filling pudding and a very enjoyable one. Hungry Horse also promise to donate 20p to Macmillan Cancer Support for every Baked Alaska sold. Price: £4.99.
Hungry Horse were also famous for their World’s Smallest Dessert. That’s now been taken off of the menu and replaced by a Mini Chocolate Treat. It’s exactly what you need to finish off a hearty meal or to cure any Chocolate cravings. It’s a small bowl filled with Chocolate Mousse and topped with so much Cream you can’t see the Chocolate. It’s quite a nice size considering it’s less than a pound. It’s really good value for money and just tops off a meal perfectly. Price: 99p.
Another lighter dessert, if you’re on the verge of being stuffed, is the new Cookie Dough Cheesecake. It combines the popular Cheesecake with the ever popular Banoffee Pie to create what should be a really successful dessert. It doesn’t look like a typical Cheesecake as it’s square and contains Cookie Dough rather than purely Cream to offer a slightly sweeter flavour. The Banoffee flavoured Cheesecake is drizzled in Toffee Sauce to give that darker taste and topped with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s a slight twist to your average Cheesecake but still ticks all the boxes for a really nice dessert. Price: £4.49.
Their final new dessert is more of a twist on a previous pudding in the form of their Chocolate & Coconut Milk Torte. It replaces the Salted Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Torte. It’s largely the same as the previous version with the Popcorn still intact. Unfortunately, the Popcorn loses its crunch and is rather soft and that’s probably why it needed a rename and another batch of advertising. There isn’t really much taste of Coconut either but you know it’s there because the flakes still get stuck in your teeth. For this rework to have been needed, it can’t have been all that popular to begin with but it probably isn’t going to change with this. The only positive is that it’s a nice Chocolate Torte and if it was just that if would have been really nice. Price: £4.99.