Monday was Boy’s 14th birthday – and his traditional birthday requirements are very very simple; cinema trip, to include the largest bucket of salted popcorn available, followed by a family dinner somewhere that has brilliant burgers.
We’d been asked by Beefeater to visit and try out their great value new summer menu, and a quick glance showed a fab range of burgers on the menu. Job done – and a table for six was booked at Smugglers haunt, the Beefeater just outside Poole.
Finding it was easy – it’s an old traditional thatched Inn which was no doubt on the spot a few hundred years before the dual carriageway was planted outside its front door. But inside the space was bright and open; not at all dark and close as you’d expect such an old building to be.
It was a Monday evening so we hadn’t expected it to be terribly busy, but we found that probably half the restaurant was full (there is a Premier Inn attached which probably adds to the regular customer flow). no one was on reception to greet us, and we stood waiting for a food five minutes – in view of the bar staff who glanced our way then looked quickly away – before we were greeted and shown to our table.
Sitting down, the first thing we noticed was the amusingly wobbly tables – we had three small tables together for our table of six, which is fine, but the ones on either end wobbled alarmingly. We tried fixing with wedging the leg, but it was the top itself which rocked, so no amount of leg work was going to stop that. My son and I bartered a deal over table-leaning rights, and ensured that there shouldn’t be any drink-spillage by taking turns :)
Bear, at 8, was the only one choosing from the kids menu – and it was a really REALLY great kids choice menu. The clear image-based layout made it fun for even non-readers to pick what they wanted. There’s loads of kid-friendly choices, and they’re all pretty flexible. In the end she opted for the tomato penne pasta, with sides of garlic bread and chips. What can I say – she’s a light eater, but when she decides she’s hungry, she REALLY likes her carbs…
The flexibility of the kids options is brilliant – and the value is excellent. Three courses for £5.99? Deal.
There are lots of special offer deals in the menu which are brilliant value if you take advantage of them; the Daytime Value is particularly good. Monday to Saturday before 6.30pm you can enjoy a selected menu of ‘Great British favourites’ like Sausage and Mash or Fish and Chips from just £4.99 a main course. Starters and desserts (again, selected items only but there’s a good range to choose from) are just £1.99.
However, we all followed the birthday boy and all ended up opting for various burgers – which were all pretty good. They weren’t scorchingly hot, but warm enough to be fine, and the taste was good. The value wasn’t so great on these; £12 for a burger isn’t a fabulous bargain – multiply it by five and the bill soon adds up.
The bottomless drinks are always a good idea (£11 for four of us), but do read the menu carefully; currently there’s a restriction on which are included in the bottomless menu which we missed at first glance.
Our table was booked for 6.30, so right on the busiest period for family dinner time; and the noise level in the restaurant did let us know we maybe should have booked for a little later. But the staff were friendly and efficient, despite the business of the restaurant. Food arrived within 30 minutes, We could have done without all the windows being flung open beside our table without asking us first, at the same time as the air conditioning was pumped up to full right above us; it wasn’t a hot day, and we shut the windows pretty quickly again!
One course plus drinks for the six of us came to £78.44 – if we’d stuck to the value meal deal we could have had the entire meal for under £50, but as it was a birthday celebration too we let everyone choose what they wanted. Beefeater are a great stop-off on a busy day out, and a perfect choice when you’re travelling this summer; they’re always in easy-to-reach locations and brilliant when you don’t want to plump for fast food on your journey.
We visited Smuggler’s Haunt in Ferndown, but the menus are nationwide – just check the website for your nearest Beefeater, and definitely use them if you have young children. Like I said, the kids menu is one of the best I’ve seen for a long time.