Fisher's Pond, Eastleigh,
Telephone: 02380 692209
Perched on the edge of the pond for which it is named, The Fishers Pond is a traditional country pub in the heart of Hampshire. The pond was originally part of a planned garden city, but the area was declared a green belt in the 1930's and further development ceased. When my father-in-law was a young lad, the pond had a designated swimming area and he regaled us with stories of learning to swim in these waters.
We were slightly confused about how to order at this pub. In most pubs you find a place to sit and note the table number, then place your order at the bar. Payment is made at the time of the order, rather than afterwards like at a restaurant. The table number helps the kitchen know where to bring the food when it is ready. At Fisher's Pond, there were no numbers on the tables, which usually means that a server will come by to take the order.
Not so at Fishers Pond. The tables weren't numbered and we assumed that someone would take our order. When they didn't we asked a member of staff, who told us that the bar would give us a large, numbered wooden spoon when we ordered, and that we should put it into the stone crock cutlery container on our table. Fair enough.
It seems that all English pubs are offering some sort of two or three-course lunch meal deal at the moment, and The Fishers Pond is no different. There are three starters on the lunch specials menu, all of which are vegetarian: breaded mushrooms, fresh cantaloupe melon, and the soup of the day. Steve and his Dad opted for the mushrooms, and I had tomato soup with roasted red peppers and fennel. It was a meal in itself and very tasty indeed. The butter for the bread was softened and easily spreadable - it may not seem like a big deal, but it's the little touches that can make or break a pub.
There was only one vegetarian entree listed: pumpkin ravioli with rocket salad. I was intrigued enough to give it a shot. I found it to be a bit on the dry side, and wasn't wild about the salad, which was served on top of the ravioli rather than on the side. I had to remove and discard the wilted mess.
Portions at The Fishers Pond are very generous and unfortunately we didn't have room for a third course, although the profiteroles looked heavenly.
The large, rambling structure sports a wall of windows facing the pond, and a lovely, well-used stone patio to enjoy the natural wildlife while supping a pint from their range of real ales. One of the nicest things about traditional English country pubs is their easy-going attitude toward animals. It is not uncommon to find dogs lounging on the pub carpet at their master's feet, or the publican's cat curled up in front of a roaring fire. I think it makes for a cozy atmosphere.