For grown-ups Gastropub still needs a bit of fine-tuning
After a significant refurbishment by owners Punch Taverns, the Drum and Monkey reopened under new management in June.
Well positioned to attract people from Clevedon and Yatton, this old roadside pub has been given the full gastropub makeover, while retaining many of its original features.
More importantly, the pub still has a separate bar for locals to enjoy a pint of Otter ale without feeling pressurised into ordering a dish of moules mariniere or an 8oz sirloin, even if the mussels do come from Falmouth and the Shaw Farm steaks were hung for 28 days.
Walk past the wood-burning stove and you upgrade to the smart new dining area, with its flowery, textured wallpaper, mismatched furniture, armchairs and the sort of linen tea towel napkins you see in Country Living.
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The pub is clearly hoping to tap into the area's aspiring nu-country folk – the tweed and deck-shoe crowd who live the rural dream despite living in a modern house in Yatton.
There was evidence of this on the evening I popped in for supper, with Kate and Wills types in mud-free Hunter wellies at the bar.
Like the pub itself, the menu looks the part and reads well but things didn't get off to a flying start with the peanut, lime and coriander squid salad with chilli oil (£5.50). The nine cardboard-like deep-fried battered rings of squid arrived on a bed of limp, dry and undressed leaves with a couple of blobs of chilli jam and 13 (yes, I counted them) peanut halves, most of which were burnt. No sign of the advertised coriander, no hint of the promised lime. It was the singularly worst starter I have ordered this year.
As I waited (and waited) for the main course, the cracks started to show. The friendly staff were doing their best but kept asking some pretty dim questions like "have you got your drinks" to dry-mouthed customers drumming their fingers on an empty table.
When it did turn up, the roast rump of lamb (£13.50) was nicely cooked, pink and juicy. It was served with thyme-flavoured soft polenta wrapped in crisp pancetta and a dribble of well-made salsa verde. The only let-down was a pile of wilted spinach so gritty that it was like eating an ice cream that had just fallen into the sand.
A very average sherry trifle (£4.50) was top-heavy with thick, overly stiff cream and lacking in any notable sherry hit, although it did contain seasonal blackberries.