Toby Carvery, Hall Green

Imagine I told you there was somewhere you could eat a tasting menu of Yorkshire puddings. You’d be all over it, wouldn’t you? You love a Yorkshire pudding, it’s essentially an exploded pancake, and you really fucking love pancakes. You already don’t need a reason to eat a Yorkshire pudding, you’ll put it on plates it has no place on, which is every plate that doesn’t contain roast beef. You love its versatility; how the texture changes the higher it gets, and how the crevice can store a variety of treasures. Now imagine you can have one on every course. Hello? It’s Toby you’re looking for.

Sadly that is where the fun ends. Our sharing starter is a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding that serves as a plate for the plate it is served upon. Inside is nachos in notion, which translates as a bag of corn shrapnel glued together with cheese, a spoonful of lumpy tomato paste and one chilli cut into six chunks of shit-inducing misery. There was none of the listed guacamole or pulled pork, which I am now seeing as a good thing for me and the pig whose life would have been wasted. The Yorkshire pudding tasted as if it had been made of recyclable material, with the forced upturned lip of a reality TV star and as little point for its existence. More grim than Grimsby, this was an idea that should never have seen the light of day.

This managed to lower the expection of the carvery to Lost City of Atlantis levels. After standing in line for five minutes I eventually opt for another Yorkshire pudding to join a slice of all four meats on a slightly grubby plastic plate. I pile it high with veg and drown in Toby’s special gravy after removing the skin from the large communal pot. There are good bits in the gammon and turkey, the roast potatoes which would shame many a gastropub, a kind of root veg dauphinoise gratin, and that gravy, which goes straight inside the Yorkshire pudding that I’ve filled with crispy bits of the roasties (this should be on the menu). The Yorkshire pudding is okay, as is the pork and the stuffing that tastes suspiciously of Paxo. The rest is not good to damright awful. Carrots are woefully overcooked, the green beans now grey beans, chewy, overcooked beef, mash potato that could hold wallpaper up, and a shard of pork crackling that would broken every teeth in my mouth had I perserveered. And you can go back for seconds on the veg if you are that greedy or stupid.

I didn’t finish the roast and could easily have called it a day, though I can’t because they have A DESSERT WITH A FUCKING YORKSHIRE PUDDING IN IT. Yes, you read that correctly; they have A DESSERT WITH A FUCKING YORKSHIRE PUDDING IN IT. How could I not order A DESSERT WITH A FUCKING YORKSHIRE PUDDING IN IT? It’s shit. I shouldn’t have bothered. All sweetness and cream and milky things, it’s essentially a pimped-out milkshake for pimps who fucking love Yorkshire puddings. It’s not good and I suggest that you never contemplate trying it. I do these things because I love you.

Service is warm and kind, though they manage to mess up the bill by a few quid that I leave as a tip once they rectify the situation. Look, I’m going to be real and leave my conceited and snobby opinion alone for a minute. It was clear that the majority of the room were either not particularly well-to-do or ageing, and the carvery here is £7 on week nights, which is fair and affordable. There are far worse places to spend seven quid on dinner than here. It is honest, not cynical, and generous in size. Most of it is edible, some of it is even nice. I simply can’t hate it, even if I didn’t enjoy it. Would I come back out of choice? No. But I’d have no issue eating here if someone was insistent we came. It’s harmless enough for most, and pure heaven for fans of a Yorkshire puddings.

5/10

A2B got us from A to B

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