Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Classic Cowboy - Inn On The Green (Marstons) Paignton

Where?: The Inn On The Green, Paignton

What?: The Cowboy Classic Burger - Bacon, Monterey Jack Cheese, Token Salad.

How much?: £10 something

The Verdict:

The Inn on The Green in Paignton hasn't done much for me in the past.  The last time we went there, it ended up with us making a complaint to the manager about some terrible tasting fish that they had served us as part of their fish and chips meal.  Marstons also own the Waterloo Cross in Uffculme which was terrible as well so frankly my expectations were dragging up the steps of the pub as we had decided that our day out in Paignton needed some fuel.

Given we were on a budget and not really feeling particularly adventurous we decided to give The Inn On The Green another go, but maybe avoid the fish this time?

The Inn On The Green is a family pub which means that there is generally more tolerance to the Callums and Chardonnays of this world running around screaming at the top of their voices whilst the rest of the pub quietly judge their parenting skills.  They won't get kicked out as fast, and there is a holding cell for the small ones (I think its called a play area?).  So bring your ear protectors.

Interestingly a sign at the front says that Cambra members are welcome, not that you would find anything worth them coming in for.  Like all Marstons their only main redeeming feature in terms of ale was the fact that they do have Hobgoblin on draught but this had a big sign on it saying 'coming soon'...  So yes, even before I had sat down I had judged and made up my mind.  Bad habit when you're writing a blog about places you eat in.

I would at this stage like to change the course of this post, because despite the surroundings there were a number of things that had improved since our last visit and the first thing was certainly the service.  The staff were friendly and personable, on the whole.  There were no miserable expressionless drones (as the Cafe Tutto around the corner had provided us with earlier in the afternoon), everyone seemed happy to smile and to express their basic humanity.

Secondly the food had improved as well.  Even though this is a burger blog, it was nice to see that they hadn't gone overboard with Gourmet Burgers.  There were three burgers to choose from (The Cowboy Classic, Macaroni Cheese Burger and a Piri Piri Chicken Burger) and they were not labeled proudly as 'Gourmet Burgers' which has become quite tiresome now, they were just Brilliant Burgers.  The Cowboy Classic seemed like a sure bet, so I went for that with baited breathe.

With some Heinz Burger sauce for dipping and a good load of chips, this was actually a nice burger.  Yes, it was stuffed with filler and binding, the origin of the meat was not given and it was beyond medium rare but it was definitely not the worst burger I have ever had.  A soft bap and a pot of catering standard coleslaw accompanied it, and although for what you got and compared to the price of better burgers that I have had in better places, it was much more than it should have been, the burger was a good size and the taste was meaty enough to keep me happy.

Washed down with a pint of Cumberland from Jennings (bought by Marstons in 2005) which frankly tasted of watered down nats piss, it was a fair meal which I would have again.  But with Hobgoblin.

The Mare & Foal 10oz Burger on The North Devon Ale Trail

The North Devon Ale Trail is most probably one of my favourite reasons for using a train.  I quite like trains anyway, but the idea of spending the day hopping on and off a train whilst visiting some of the nicer Devon pubs you are likely to find, fills me with heaps of happiness.  So it was with a lot of gusto and enthusiasm that I dragged some willing victims around this elongated pub crawl, all in the name of Real Ale.

Originally I had said that I would give a blow by blow account of the day, but in reality a lot happens on these trips and many photos were taken.  The main highlight for me on that day was the discovery of the 10oz Burger that is served by The Mare and Foal in Yeoford.  This densely meaty burger was a fantastic mid-drink addition, and the whole afternoon got a whole lot better its discovery.

Leaving the station at 09.27 we wanted to get up in time for breakfast in Barnstaple.  The first pub was Marshalls and luckily for us, they do a very reasonably priced breakfast.  However we rocked up to the station three minutes late, so it was going to be breakfast in Exeter instead.  

The Great Western had a board about breakfasts, so we pottered over to have a look.  Unfortunately for The Great Western there was nobody at the bar, so we waited and when someone did appear they didn’t greet us with the customary ‘how can I help you?’, just a ‘hello’ and then just ignored until one of the party pursued him and found out that despite saying they did breakfasts, they weren’t serving food until 12pm.  So a quick getaway to the burger van across the roundabout and a very nice Bacon and Egg Roll consumed.
We caught the next train up an hour later, and arrived at Barnstaple after a pleasant and picturesque journey.  First pint in Marshalls was a pint of Fox by Exmoor Brewery, and then a quick departure back to the train to catch the train to the next pub.  Our next pub was The Rising Sun in Umberleigh where I met ‘Dave’.  Dave is an Ale brewed by Great Heck Brewery, a dark stout with a Smokey yet sweet taste to it.  Certainly my favourite ale of the whole trip.

Then back on the train to Yeoford and the mighty 10oz Burger at The Mare and Foal.

If you tried to describe The Mare and Foal, the first word that would come to mind would be quirky.  Owned by Trevor and Jane, Trevor does the cooking being the creator of this dense meat feast.  Despite the fact a few pubs along the North Devon Ale Trail have dropped out, The Mare and Foal still gladly welcome train bound travellers who have given this pub a bit of a cult status.

The Burger:

Listed as a 10oz burger, the size of it didn’t strike me being worthy of the label until you bite in to it and realise how dense this thing is. Hand made in the pub, our entire party had decided that they would all like the burger so this ultimately meant they soon sold out (sucks to be the guy after us who I heard rather disappointedly head back to his table to say that the burgers were all sold out).  The burger came with chips and a generic salad, but an epic portion for just shy over a tenner.  Washed down with a pint of Bays Summer Ale it couldn’t get any better, plus it had a definite kick to it given the extra seasoning and spices that go in to it.  

Soon it was back on the train and on to another pub.  We had intended to stop at Newton St Cyres and visit The Beer Engine, but the train didn’t stop at Newton so we had to make an unexpected stop at Crediton.  

Pub-wise, Crediton isn’t blessed with much.  One of the pubs on the Ale Trail involves walking up a hill and in to town which, although it’s a nice walk, isn’t great if you’re of limited mobility because of either alchohol or health.  So we decided to walk in a certain direction and see what we hit first.  And we hit The Plymouth Inn.  Not a real ale in sight but full of character instead.  A sod off great Rottweiler patrolled the floor as we daintily sipped our weasel piss.

In no time at all we were back on the train heading back Exeter, and rather predictably we ended up in The Imperial sipping down a pint of Crispy Pig and reflecting on a successful day.  I can't remember much after the first Jagarbomb but it all got a bit squiffy after that.