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Review: The Packhorse Inn at Moulton - ‘Great setting and service - but perhaps a bit pricey’

PUBLISHED: 09:25 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:25 24 October 2018

The impressive bread/amuse bouche board at The Packhorse Inn. Picture: LIZ HEATH

The impressive bread/amuse bouche board at The Packhorse Inn. Picture: LIZ HEATH

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Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited gastro pub The Packhorse Inn at Moulton for a Friday night dinner...

Liz's starter at The Packhorse Inn - roasted butternut squash soup. A great dish for an autumnal evening. Picture: LIZ HEATHLiz's starter at The Packhorse Inn - roasted butternut squash soup. A great dish for an autumnal evening. Picture: LIZ HEATH

Food

When we walked through the doors of The Packhorse on an autumnal Friday night, the place was buzzing.

At first, I feared that the combination of Friday night drinkers and sit-down diners would not make for a happy marriage, but those concerns were quickly assuaged when we were shown to our table, well away from the hubub of the bar.

That is something the Packhorse do very well - the bustling bar area is well separated from the dining tables, which are large and well spaced out. Very comfy and welcoming.

We both ordered a pint of Peroni - an incredibly reasonable £7.50 for both – and settled in to mull over the menu. With us, for the first time on our reviewing adventures, was faithful hound Benson, and he too was made very welcome with a substantial biscuit treat. The Packhorse is truly dog friendly, as oppose to some places who claim to be, but clearly would rather not host hounds.

And so to business. For starters, I went for the Suffolk charcuterie board (£7), while my better half chose the roasted butternut squash soup.

The Suffolk charcuterie board at The Packhorse Inn - chorizo the highlight. Picture: MARK HEATHThe Suffolk charcuterie board at The Packhorse Inn - chorizo the highlight. Picture: MARK HEATH

Before they arrived, we were treated to a fantastic amuse bouche/bread board which offered several tasty options. The sourdough bread was excellent, while I loved the mushroom brioche and Liz enjoyed the beetroot meringue. One minus was that the accompanying butter was too cold to spread properly, which I always find vexacious. But then perhaps I need to relax!

Anyway, the starters were soon with us. Mine arrived boasting a selection of chorizo, salami and parma ham - all from Rattlesden Farm Foods, nice to see local suppliers being supported – plus another slice of sourdough, cherry tomatoes and Nocellara olives. My pick was the chorizo, but it was all most agreeable.

Liz’s soup was both creamy and warming - perfect for the autumn evening – with a nice crunch from the croutons. It could though, have benefitted from having a slice of bread served with it.

Up and running then, and ready for the mains. Liz had ordered the Kilhome Bay scampi, served with creamed peas and fries (£18), while I pushed the boat all the way out and went for the grilled 8oz sirloin steak, served with a glazed carrot, hand-cut chips and a pickled raisin and radicchio salad (£24).

The scampi was delicious and meaty, with the peas also proving a hit. But we were both a little underwhelmed with the amount of food on offer for £18 - half the plate was empty, and one couldn’t help but feel a little aggrieved.

Over on my plate, my steak was perfectly cooked - medium rare, of course - and just melted in the mouth. The glazed carrot added a nice bite and sweetness to proceedings, while the chips were also superb, crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The salad split opinion – I was certainly not a fan, but Liz enjoyed it. Again though, I felt £24 was a little overpriced.

Liz's main at The Packhorse Inn - Kilhome Bay scampi. Delicious and meaty - but you'd expect a full plate for £18. Picture: LIZ HEATHLiz's main at The Packhorse Inn - Kilhome Bay scampi. Delicious and meaty - but you'd expect a full plate for £18. Picture: LIZ HEATH

Anyway, on to pudding. We decided to share a couple of desserts – the dark chocolate mousse with cocoa sponge, white chocolate ganache and malt (£8), and the ginger bread custard, spiced milk, candy granola and coffee jelly (£7).

I’m afraid the ginger bread custard was a big miss for us both. It looked fantastic, but was most disappointing. The flavour wasn’t unpleasant, but it badly needed texture – it was like eating air. A layer of sponge or biscuit would have made a big difference.

The mousse, meanwhile, was much better. Very rich and naughty, as all chocolate desserts should be!

And thus our meal came to an end, Mostly good – but not tremendous.

Drinks

Mark's main at The Packhorse Inn - grilled sirloin steak. Prime cut of meat, perfectly cooked - as it should be for £24! Picture: MARK HEATHMark's main at The Packhorse Inn - grilled sirloin steak. Prime cut of meat, perfectly cooked - as it should be for £24! Picture: MARK HEATH

As already mentioned, the Peroni was unbelievable value - I can’t recall finding it cheaper anywhere else.

I must also mention the superb water, flavoured with slices of cucumber. Incredibly refreshing.

Wine-list wise, the options are plentiful. I was pleased to see the excellent Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc among the offerings, albeit at a significant mark-up – you can get a bottle in a decent supermarket for £20, but it will set you back £46.50 here.

Service

Superb. As I’ve often mentioned, this is the thing which separates the great from the merely good. And here, the service was great – friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming. Even checking for me - with a smile - when I kept asking about the provenance of various ingredients. And I’m really quite annoying.

The ginger bread custard dessert at The Packhorse Inn - looked fantastic, but lacked texture. Picture: LIZ HEATHThe ginger bread custard dessert at The Packhorse Inn - looked fantastic, but lacked texture. Picture: LIZ HEATH

Setting

As far as a pub goes, this is right at the top end. Nicely decorated, cosy and stylish. The tables were also large and well spaced out - another of my key factors in recommending an eaterie.

Parking

Plenty of parking to the side and rear of the property.

One of the desserts at The Packhorse Inn - dark chocolate mousse. Tasty, but very rich! Picture: MARK HEATHOne of the desserts at The Packhorse Inn - dark chocolate mousse. Tasty, but very rich! Picture: MARK HEATH

Dog friendly

I know I’ve already mentioned this, but worth highlighting again. We can often be a little wary of taking Benson with us to dinner - being a fairly large bulldog, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea – but the staff could not have been more friendly. Clearly dog lovers all, and that makes a real difference.

Value for money

No complaints really with the starters and desserts, but we both felt our mains - the scampi especially – were a touch overpriced.

Highlight

Our mains were both delicious. My steak, particularly, was a beautifully prepared and presented piece of prime meat.

In summary

Great setting and service - but perhaps a bit pricey.

Rating: 8/10

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