A collective sigh of relief for many parents is being breathed this week. The Teen returns to school to start his final year of compulsory education and the reality of this is setting in. I decided to take him out for one last hurrah and chose The New Plough in Burnopfield as the venue. Happy Cow informed me there were vegan options on the menu and a special offer which sweetened the deal for me. Having visited other Sonnet 43 pubs in the past and documenting my disappointment at the scran on offer on this very blog I was hoping this newly decked out pub was going to be slightly better than its stablemate The Lambton Worm.
It apparently reopened a year ago after a £700k refit. The walls are lined with gardening paraphernalia, and I imagine a lot of the money has been spent on the tipis at the rear of the pub. The Tavistock Group who own the venue are clearly hoping they will attract weddings and outdoor events now the place has been spruced up.
The Teen decided that nothing from the Afternoon Specials – which touted two courses and a drink for just £7.95 – took his fancy so he took a peek at the standard menu.
There was no mention of a vegan friendly starter for me, but after asking staff discovered the Cous Cous Stuffed Beef Tomato was suitable. A little uninspiring but at least there was something. I can’t really understand why this was not labelled as vegan when they seem to know what veganism is and have other dishes highlighted as such. Did the word ‘beef’ confuse them? 🙂
It was duly ordered and arrived from the serving hatch quite quickly. There obviously isn’t a lot of cooking or assembly in a dish like this. It was perfectly acceptable but not as interesting as the Jerk Cauliflower I’d seen advertised on their Facebook page. Apparently the Afternoon Specials menu changes from week to week, but I was assured there are always vegan options available.
The Teen ordered a Cod Dog, a spin on the pub classic Fish & Chips. It seems the quirk factor extends beyond the decor with the serving of his proper chips on a scoop, a la The Botanist. With hanging kebabs also featuring on the menu it seems it isn’t just plating inspiration they are taking from the popular city centre establishment.My Penang Curry was good, although I felt a few more spoonfuls of food on the plate wouldn’t have gone amiss. Served with plain rice, which was hiding underneath the sauce, there didn’t seem to be a lot of difference between this and the Thai Red Curries I’ve had at the likes of Chaophraya recently. The fact I’d have happily eaten more means I was either very hungry, thought it was a decent curry, or a mixture of the two.
No dessert for me as I was limited to good old sorbet, but The Teen requested a slice of Cheesecake (£4.95) to round off his meal.
I think the word ‘decent’ is a fair summation of our lunch at The New Plough. I think £7.95 for two courses and a drink (served Monday – Friday between 12 and 6pm) is reasonable value for money, even if the portions aren’t massive. Not exactly haute cuisine either, but the kitchen managed a relatively niggle-free experience for us in light of my dietary requirements. Complaints on social media seem to focus on the standard of service, but we found staff amiable. I have to admit there were only a couple of other diners during our visit, so it would have been difficult for them to have ignored us. I was told a new menu was arriving in time for autumn, and I hope there’ll be a few more exciting dishes on offer for veggies. Even if you just pop in for a pint of Sonnet 43 ale you’ll have a pleasant time at this country boozer.
Thanks for reading,
Find out more about The Plough Inn here.