THE only chains that are seemingly producing a brand new Summer menu this year are Whitbread Inns’ owned chains and Beefeater were one of the first to release theirs. Hungry Horse seem happy to release seasonal limited editions rather than a menu overhaul during the season and Sizzling seem to be happy with having what was the usual Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter menus.
With every new Beefeater menu there becomes more disappointment as the prices go up with the portions or even standard of food going down and they have now seemingly well and truly priced themselves out of the family chain market. Whether it’s greed from having a lot of their pubs connected to a lot of hotel chains and therefore ripping businesses off who send their employees on work trips and claim meals back on expenses or thinking that being the nearest eating establishment most guests will visit regardless, or whether they arrogantly think that they’re food is genuinely double the quality of their competitors, long gone are the days when Beefeater was arguably the first chain we wanted to visit and one of the best value for money brands out there.
This latest menu isn’t the most extensive in terms of new things but now with only four main menu meals at less than a tenner and now also having the most expensive dish in town at practically £40, eclipsing Bare Grills’ BBQ Tower by five pounds, it’s again becoming increasingly harder to justify visiting. To put it into context, Hungry Horse, who do have bigger menus, have 40 dishes for under a tenner, Sizzling have 30, Brewers Fayre 27 and Table Table 18. Even perceived ‘upper class’ restaurants chains have more choices for under a tenner including Harvester who have ten, Marstons Inns 19, Frankie & Benny’s 22 and Chef & Brewer five so on price alone there’s no contest in where you would go. Based on our own previous recent visits to the various chained restaurants it’s not even possible to suggest that the quality of food is so much better at Beefeater or even indeed paying more for. Sizzling by far taste the freshest and still keep good portion sizes whereas Hungry Horse still probably top the bill for how much you get on your plate. When any dish of the menu is tried all pictures unless stated otherwise are from The Pavilion in Weston-super-Mare.
As with any Beefeater menu you expect at least one of their new dishes to contain a Steak and the Steak, Ribs and King Prawn Combo does just that. The meal is exactly what it states, a Tri-Tip Steak, although we were given Sirloin as they had ran out, topped with King Prawns and accompanied by half a rack of BBQ Ribs completed with Chips, Tomato and a Mushroom. As a concept it’s not exactly much to write home about but as a combination it is a very good one and gives you a bit of everything you need. With combos like this you would probably expect to pay over £15 and maybe even close to £20 but it’s not biggest amount of Meat and Fish you would ever be faced with, it did taste nice even without getting the proper Steak. Price: £18.99.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s extremely hard not to feel ripped off when paying more than a tenner for a Salad unless it’s the size of a platter. The new Buttermilk Chicken Goujon Salad is nowhere near that standard and sees just four Chicken Goujons sitting on top a bowl of Romaine Lettuce and Kale with some grated and melted Regato Cheese, house Croutons and a reduced fat Caesar Dressing. Well it would have been a Caesar Dressing if they hadn’t have ran out of that too and instead were given French Dressing. The Salad part was probably a good size and the Regato was arguably the nicest tasting thing about it. The Croutons added a crunch to otherwise leafy dish but it was the four Chicken Goujons that really disappointed us. Judging by their website you get three or four Goujons as a starter for £5.99 so to pay five pounds extra at £10.99 for the addition of the Salad makes it feel like even more of a rip off. Looking at mysupermarket.com, you can get a two pack of Heart of Romaine Lettuce for 85p (ASDA), 200g Curly Leaf Kale for 75p (LIDL), 100g Croutons for 30p (Poundstretcher), 80g of shaved Parmesan for £1.50 (ASDA), 250ml French Dressing for 59p (ALDI & LIDL) and 555g Chicken Goujons for £1.50 (ASDA) or a 42 pack of Chicken Dippers for an extra pound (ALDI & LIDL), meaning you could make the same meal for at least 2-4 people for £5.49, nearly half the price you will have paid for just one person.