The Dog in Warley following the popular pub’s total revamp.

It underwent a total revamp a while back, going for a more subtle, sophisticated exterior.

It's been a while since I popped in to The Dog for a pie and a pint and I hardly recognised the place. It underwent a total revamp a while back, going for a more subtle, sophisticated exterior.

Gone are the big gold-coloured metal letters that spelt out the pub’s name on the front of the building. Now you could almost mistake it for a rather tasteful house and drive straight past. Another change is the introduction of exterior colour – a sort of olive-aqua shade. It shouts modern.

Does the interior live up to the trendy new outside?

Yes, and no. Basically it depends on which entrance you use. If you enter through the car park at the back, it’s a yes.

The room is all stripped floorboards, biege and brown wallpaper and lots of mirrors, all set on a raised floor overlooking the rest of the pub.

Arrive at the other end, ie the front of the pub, and it’s a different story.  This is where the locals hang out and try their luck on the fruit machines or nurse their pint. Talk about a pub of two halves.

So it’s drinkers versus foodies?

Actually the two get along quite nicely. There are food tables all around the pub, some in cosy little nooks and others on of the main pub floor, with the downstairs customers definitely looking like a more down-to-earth crowd.

The two tables in front of the fire are always the most popular and were taken up on our visit by a mixture of shift workers and a group of 60-something couples.

Upstairs was lacking in atmosphere. We were surrounded by well-dressed females, two to a table, who looked like they had come in for a good old bitch after work.

We had to go for the set evening menu, didn’t we? A bargain at £9.50 for two courses.

My spiced carrot and lentil broth with crusty bread could have been homemade and really hit the spot on a bitterly cold Easter Monday.

This was followed by a comforting mushroom and squash risotto, and plenty of it. I took up the option of added chicken for an extra £2. This dish also comes with garlic bread.

My friend polished off the beer-battered mushrooms but saved her praises for the chicken chimney pie which came in a beautifully crispy puff pastry and was served with savoy cabbage, roast veg, green beans and its only little gravy boat. This was simple food but better than your average pub grub.

On the set menu there were the usual suspects – gammon, steak pie, burger, pasta, fishcakes and salmon. The pudding choices were mulled Eton mess – they’ve kept this going from the Christmas menu – ice cream and chocolate brownie.

The main menu is quite impressive, with whitebait, chowder, pork belly, snapper jambalaya and a jalfrezi platter among the offerings. The specials included Beef Wellington and a vegetable lasagne.

The beer is another defining feature. This is a pub restaurant that hasn’t forgotten its roots. They always have between five and ten cask ales on offer. On this visit they uncluded Adnams and St Austell, and there is usually a new interesting brew to try. Pint of Boondoggle anyone?

On the strength of this visit, yes I would recommend. I visited over Christmas when it was too crowded and the food less interesting.

Marion Brennan

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