We've been a bit wary of going to the Boat pub ( sorry, Restaurant and Bar) at the top of Stockton locks because of its reputation for being expensive. Anyway we're moored ten minutes walk away so we thought we'd better go and have a look on behalf of the reader of this blog. Just imagine I'm Jay Rayner or (heaven forbid) Gregg Wallace.
Some of you will know the Boat. It sits canalside with some pergolas to sit under. You can moor right outside if there's room.
If you should care to examine their web pages you would expect it to be smart and up market, which it could easily be. Clearly money has been spend on doing up the large garden at the rear with a nice covered decking area and a little "zen" pond and whatnot. There is plenty of seating and even a pile of cushions by the back door so you can grab one to use on any of the outdoor seating. So far, so good. However the garden right now is looking a bit tired and neglected
and I'm sorry to say that both out front and somewhat less so at the back there is a distinct whiff from what I fear is their septic tank. Maybe it's overdue for emptying. Whatever, it makes the attractive canalside seats an unpleasant spot to drink or eat in. Another example I think of the website promising rather more than the real thing.
Inside the pub is a tad more traditional and there are a number of dining areas as well as a comfy bar.
Food and drink.
Well we were pleasantly surprised at the drink. Their main beer supplier seems to be Suffolk's Nethergate brewery which is a good 'un. We had pints of Nethergate Venture, very acceptable and well kept and served and at only £4.40 a pint, good value by today's standards. They also had a few of the excellent Lilley's draft ciders available again at a reasonable price.
Now, we'd seen the menu on line and knew that it was not cheap. Starters between £9 and £16. Main courses will set you back anything between £18 and £34 ( a side dish of chips £4.50), desserts mostly a tenner etc, but the food does look good. However we didn't expect the high food prices to be reflected in the price of a packet of crisps £1.75!!
We declined to dine on this occasion but may go back sometime to treat ourselves. I think Jay Rayner actually eats the food when he goes to these places, but then it's on expenses.
Should you ever go there, you might also want to walk across the road where a gate leads you to Tinkers Meadow, a Wildlife Trust managed meadow which, in season, promises abundant wild flowers and a number of rare species of butterfly. What it did have today were some nice ripe juicy blackberries which this year seem not so easy to find on the towpath.
Tonight on board Herbie we dine on a Tesco meal deal (£10 (or was it £12?) for two people including a main, a side, a pud and a bottle of Merlot). We know how to live it up.