Advantages Great food, pleasant location, children welcome
Disadvantages Baby changing facilities are pathetic and the prices are over the top.
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Menu|
|Standard of Service|
The Hatch Family Restaurant and Public House
From the M3 coming from London, take the junction marked 6 for Basingstoke / Southampton. Just off the A30, follow the road round until you come to a large roundabout, from this point turn right into Old Basing. The Hatch is sign posted with a small square sign if you are approaching from Basingstoke town centre.London Road is the main road off the motorway and leads you through to Old Basing. Keep going straight for about two miles and The Hatch is on the right hand side of the dual carriageway. There is a large VW dealership on the opposite side of the pub. Conkers garden centre is almost next door incase you over shoot the turning.
WHY GO THERE? The Hatch is a well-established public house and restaurant. With only five other Chef and Brewer chains in Hampshire, this is unlike other pubs in the area. The building dates back to 1857 and is steeped in history. Though owned by the Chef and Brewer group, it is managed extremely well by Ian & Lynette Williams, this restaurant is popular all year round.The Hatch offers traditional pub meals in charming yet rural surroundings; with children welcome this is a friendly family diner.
THE DÉCOR: Unlike its close neighbour, The Portsmouth Arms, this restaurant is full of original features. The oak beams are genuine and the tiled floor is uneven and rickety through age.
Whatever time of year you dine there, with its brown and burgundy chintzy wallpaper, it is always dark inside but this adds to the relaxed and unhurried atmosphere.
With its many nooks and crannies and cosy corners, offering privacy to those wanting a more relaxed meal, this establishment caters for all ages.
The smell still drifts across and being a non-smoker I find this really irritating. If the pub is busy, you might be offered a seat in the smoking section. The ventilation in this area of the pub is almost non-existent which for non-smokers and children makes it quite intoxicating. You can refuse to be seated here as I have on countless times.THE GARDEN: Quite vast and kept tidy with about 40 tables for you to dine in the comfort of the summer months. Four large heaters keep off the late summer chill and the garden becomes gently illuminated in the evenings.
However, there is absolutely nothing for the children to do. There are no playground facilities and the children have to amuse themselves. A small stream runs around the borders and Cray fish can be spotted darting under the stones in the crystal clear water. The stream is not deep, probably no more than 2 inches and this seems to keep the little ones fascinated. Occasionally a large water rat might scutter across the bank but don't panic, he is more scared of you than you are of him.THE FOOD:
On quieter days, you can choose your own table; otherwise you have to wait to be seated. Meal times are Monday - Saturday 11am - 10pm. Sunday 12noon - 9.30pm. Make a note of your table number and as soon as you have selected from the menu, order your dishes from the bar.You can set up a tab which is handy if you are tempted to try a delicious desert. A tab is where the bar staff take your credit card or debit card and swipe it through, leaving the balance open until you leave. You then return to the bar to close the tab by signing the acceptance slip.
Duck and Porcini Mushroom Ravioli - Two large pasta parcels filled with duck meat mushrooms and drizzled with raspberry and balsamic olive oil.
Starters are priced at around £5 and the portions are quite small. No need to worry about being over fed with one of these. The various dishes include:
Chicken Liver Pate - a very rich and heavy dish of pate laced with honey and apple chutney. Not a fan of pate so I unfortunately cannot comment on this starter. However, my friend has tried this and found it too sickly.Oak Smoked Salmon Fishcake - One small fish cake served on a bed of salad with horseradish mayonnaise. Two bites and its over but still very tasty none the less.
Sweet Chilli Chicken Skewers - one I firmly recommend. Pure white meat, no gristle or fat and dusted in sweet chilli sauce. Served on a bed of salad with a sweet pumpkin, honey and ginger crème fraiche.Prawn Cocktail - Some small yet juicy prawns served with a Marie Rose sauce and some brown bread and butter. Quite sweet and tasty.
Mushroom Rarebit - my second favourite. These mushrooms are filled with Stilton and cheddar, grilled to a golden brown and served with garnish. Once again it is a small portion but due to the cheese, I find it quite ample.MAIN DISHES:
There are always a new selection of main meals pasted on the chalkboard by the bar and till point. It is always worth making a note of what is on offer here as new and interesting dishes appear regularly.However, on each table there is a menu to read at your leisure. Priced at around £10 or just under, unlike the starters, the portions are large but equally as appetising. Dishes listed on the menu include the following:
Chicken with Asparagus & Bacon
Chicken breast filled with asparagus & wrapped in back bacon on crushed new potatoes, with a creamy herb sauce and seasonal vegetables. The chicken is soft and juicy and the sauce delicately flavoured.
Beef & Old Speckled Hen Ale Pie
Tender chunks of Prime British beef, braised in Old Speckled Hen Ale, encased in pastry. Served with creamy mashed potato and seasonal vegetables. This pie is extremely rich and packed full of red meat with just a hint of ale. The pastry is light yet still crispy.
Grilled Chicken with Goat's Cheese & Tagliatelle
Roasted vegetables with tagliatelle bound in rich plum tomato sauce, topped with grilled chicken breast and goat's cheese. Priced at £8.95, this dish we have not tried so cannot comment. Not a fan of goat's cheese or tomatoes, it is unlikely I will.
Scottish Salmon Delice with Lime & Coriander Salsa
A grilled Scottish salmon delice with a freshly prepared lime & coriander salsa on crushed new potatoes & dressed rocket salad. Not a fan of salmon, this is quite over powering.
Aberdeen Angus Steak Burger
An 8oz* Aberdeen Angus steak burger served in a focaccia bun, with sliced tomato and rocket. Served with chips, dressed leaves and sticky barbeque chutney. This truly is a large burger, far too large to eat sandwiched inside the crispy focassia bun. The meat is just about cooked and the juices are plentiful when you cut into the burger. I prefer my burger cooked just a bit longer as the meat is too chewy grilled this way.
Tomato & Mascarpone Gnocchi (v)
Potato soufflé dumplings filled with tomato & mascarpone cheese tossed with sautéed flat field mushrooms, peppers, baby spinach, rocket pesto and shaved Parmesan style cheese. Very rich but one of those dishes where you just have to finish that last mouthful, even if you feel stuffed to bursting.
One of the old favourites, a classic mixed grill of steak, chicken breast, gammon, lamb cutlet, pork sausage & sliced black pudding. Served with chips, mushrooms, onion rings, grilled tomato and a free range egg. A hefty greasy spoon dish at a hefty price of £11.95. If you are not concerned about your cholesterol level and can devour almost a whole animal, then this is the meal for you.
BAR FOOD: More reasonably priced at £4.95 and include baguettes, jacket potatoes or sandwiches with a range of fillings. Served with salad and chips, these simple dishes are equally as tasty as the main menu items and half the price. Extra sauces are always available and staff asks if you require them as they serve your food. Mayonnaise or ketchup is served in a glass pot rather than those ridiculous packets that never open.
Large Bowl of Chips £2.75
Mushrooms - plain £ 1.35
Garlic Bread £1.65
Garlic Bread with Cheese £ 1.95
Onion rings £1.45
A selection of steamed vegetables £1.45
Side salad £1.95
Jacket Potatoes £4 with cheese (not available on Sunday's).
I recommend the tuna and cheese baguette. The tuna is warmed through and the grilled cheese is strong and delicious, served with real chunky chips, this is one not to be missed. Bar Food is served all day.Children's Menu:
For my two younger children who are not really fans of processed food, we usually order one adult main meal and split it into two. My eldest who is 9, finds the children's portion too small so we tend to avoid the kiddies menu altogether.DESERTS:
These are displayed on the chalkboards around the tables. The selection can change daily so I will just review the regular dishes that never seem to be removed from the board. Deserts are all priced at just under £4.Chocolate Orio Cookie - A large tubular shaped desert with two rich Orio Cookies sandwiched at each end. Inside is vanilla ice cream and is covered in a thick hot chocolate sauce. Unbelievably delicious but seriously sickly. You regret finishing that last mouthful but know deep down you just had to!
Apple Pie - Just like it should be made with a thick crust that melts in your mouth and ample layers of apple. Served with a choice of custard or ice cream.Chocolate Truffle Torte - A thick slice of truffle torte with a hint of chocolate and drizzled in cream. The torte is full and rich and sticks to the roof of your mouth. Only a small slice is served but this is more than enough. Ordered once but never again.
Toffee sponge pudding and custard - Forget the waistline just devour and savour every tantalising mouthful, then afterwards release that top button on your trousers. Custard hot but quite watery so be careful of the drips. The sponge is light but the toffee sauce at little too sickly. Still recommended though.Trio of sorbet - nothing special just three scoops of sorbet. A light and tasty desert ideal for children.
Quite a good variety of beverages including the usual Coke, Fanta, J20, etc. Other softer varieties include Fentinans, Frobishers , Feel Good and Belvoir. These are all fruit based and form part of the pubs healthy drinking selection. Prices vary.
Tea, Coffee and Hot Chocolate are available all day from around £3.
ENTERTAINMENT: Again, like the Portsmouth Arms, there is no entertainment, just background music filtering through the speakers. Children soon become bored inside but fortunately food is delivered quite quickly from the point of ordering. If you are taking little one's for a meal here I recommend you bring some pencils, paper etc.THE STAFF: Very polite and attentive. All the staff are smartly dressed in shirts, waistcoats and trousers and nothing is too much trouble for them. Tips are not included in the bill but you can leave something on the table if you so wish.
TOILETS AND BABY CHANGING FACILITIES: The Gents, Ladies and Disabled Toilets are just inside the entrance doors on the right hand side. I cannot comment on the Gents as I have never been inside but the Ladies toilet is extremely clean and well maintained.Just as you enter the toilet there is aged photo on the right hand side of a lady dressed in Victorian costume. Whether she was a past land lady I do not know but there is something quite spooky about her eyes. They follow you in whichever direction you move.
Inside the toilets, there are bowls of pot pouri and brand named soap bottles. The three toilet cubicles are clean and private. However there is not much space inside so do not attempt to take a buggy or pram in with you.The disabled toilet is large but basic. No little extras are used here for decoration, unlike the ladies. It really is quite sparse. There are no baby changing facilities here as such, just a plastic mat hanging over the back door of the disabled toilet. Obviously you are expected to get on your hands and knees and change your child on the floor. This I find quite unacceptable and unhygienic.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: There is quite a lot of room inside to manoeuvre a wheelchair or pram but I recommend getting there early to avoid the rush. Inside the floors are on one level apart from the smoking section and the only other obstacle to over come is the small bridge, which you need to cross to gain access inside. With care this shouldn't be too difficult as there are handrails either side for balance.
Quite dark to gain access to in the darker evenings so be careful and be alert.TO CONCLUDE: Though the prices are a bit steep, the quality of the food is excellent as is the service and surroundings. More entertainment is needed for children, as it can be quite boring for them after a while. I wouldn't go out of my way just to visit here but if you are passing then its worth taking a look and time out for a drink.
The pub is also taking bookings for Christmas day dinner, parties etc. A separate menu is available to those interested. Please call the manager direct for full information.
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