The Cock Inn

BEST PART: The Food!

Those diners who are happy to walk to the top end of town will be justly rewarded by a lunchtime visit to the Cock Inn. Like Lussman’s it has a superbly good value set lunch at £11.95 for two courses. The similarities do not end there. It is smart, buzzy and has an interesting and well executed menu.

Our waitress was a chirpy, transatlantic young lady who impressed us at the outset with her knowledge of all the beers on tap and their different characteristics, even if she did not know the proper British name for a zucchini. They had Goose Island on tap which was sublimely awesome, if unnervingly £6 a pint. Throughout the meal the waitress managed to strike that difficult balance between attentiveness and intrusiveness. We had a little chat about my 5 Ukuleles but thankfully no over familiar remarks were made.

 Like Lussman’s, the starters were brought promptly. I always find it hard to resist Deep Fried Camembert so now consider it my duty to compare and contrast between establishments. I was not disappointed today;  the outer batter was crisp, the berry coulis tart and the cheese not too highly flavoured. One of the best i have tasted.


   My husband chose the Bubble & Squeak with Bacon, Egg, Hollandaise Sauce and probably something else I’ve forgotten. It was breakfast, without being too breakfast, and so worked thematically as the start of the meal. Narrative consistency is always important in my dining experiences.

 I wasn’t blown away by the idea of the one (check) vegetarian option on the set menu and would have preferred to have two choices. However I do eat fish and there were three possibilities here. I chose the poached haddock and egg on a delicate bubble and squeak patty, which was pretty much the same as my husband’s starter, but larger and in a different section of the meal. It was creamy and lovely but I couldn’t help feeling food envy when I looked across the table at my husband’s beer battered cod.

 He was only eating that because his first two choices, Pork Belly and Steak and Ale Pie, were off, meaning that there was also only one carnivorous option as well. And that option was duck, and when he suggested having that I gave him my Paddington hard stare until he reconsidered. Pigs and Cows are fair game, Ducks are out of bounds. But it’s good to be outside of your comfort zone sometimes, and I am assured he did not regret his choice. The batter was thick and light and the chips had been cooked three times, which is apparently the number of times it takes them to get it right. Surprisingly, the best bit was actually the mushy peas, which were fresh and of a perfect consistency, with just a hint of mint.

The toilets weren’t a long way away this time. However I felt the experience could have been smartened up slightly with a more elegant hand soap and possibly lotion too. Just a tiny little touch that impresses people quickly and matches the otherwise classy vibe of this gastro pub.

 How did it fare for timing? Not quite 50 minutes but extremely close. My husband was almost late for work but this was largely our fault for talking when we should have been asking for the bill. When it did arrive (promptly after our request) it nearly brought tears to our eyes. Not because of the reasonable price (about £35 with a pint each), no, but the fact that on top of it sat two shiny chocolate mints. Oh joy! Why have so many establishments stopped offering these after dinner digestive aids? Not only do they settle the stomach and make you slightly more likely to round up the service charge favourably but they end the meal on a sweet note even if you haven’t had pudding (which despite the very tempting selection our already strained stomachs refused to consider). The ultimate full stop to a meal. Well done the Cock Inn! And well done us, for writing the entire review without making a single joke about the name of the pub!

8.9/10

http://www.thecockinstalbans.co.uk/

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