Monday, 30 July 2012

The Prince of Wales, Ecclesall Road South, Sheffield

I hadn't realised that the Prince of Wales was a chain pub until we arrived, but it couldn't have been more apparent within seconds of walking through the door.

Pleasant interior, but a bit glossy and overdesigned, plasticky mass produced menus, a token effort at serving some interesting beers. All of the obvious signs were there. All of this didn't necessarily mean I was going to dislike the place. I don't have a pathological aversion to chain pubs and restaurants, some of them have served me decent enough food at reasonable prices.

With the pubs I think there's value to be had at the bottom end of the market. I'm never going to complain at a serviceable beer soaking plate of food for little more than a fiver. Gammon, egg and chips or something like that.

What I do have an aversion to are the more upmarket chain pubs in more affluent areas, where the prices are cranked up way beyond any corresponding increase in quality. Those places where you leave feeling like you've been patted down for cash.

Sadly that's how I felt after leaving the Prince of Wales last Friday night. The food wasn't actively unpleasant, just exceptionally mediocre for the prices charged.

My starter was the high point. Chicken noodle soup (£4.50) from the specials menu brought springy noodles and lots of chicken that wasn't just overcooked breast meat, in a broth that was far too sweet but had a satisfying chilli kick.

Other starters around the table included some decent garlic mushrooms and a chorizo and potato hash with a lovely looking poached egg. They were all declared a success.

It was with the mains that things went down hill. Steaks were adequate but served with standard commodity frozen chips, the kind you'd expect to be served with a two for £8.95 meal or under a slick of cheap cheese in a Wetherspoon's. At £17.95 for the ribeye that's taking the piss.

I was in the mood for fish, so went for the whole grilled plaice with scallops from the specials menu.  The fish itself was cooked nicely, delicately flavoured and flaking easily from the bones, but the plate as a whole was a mess. The greasy, tasteless sauce had coated some overcooked asparagus and pointless rocket in an unpleasant film and the potatoes were mealy. The scallops were rubbery, gritty and not really worth eating at all. Poor, especially at over twenty quid.

We didn't bother with dessert, it was a birthday night out so we proceeded directly to cocktails. A round of celebratory champagne mojitos went down well but were light on the mint and lime and too heavy on the sugar.

Credit where it's due, the service was great throughout. Friendly and efficient. But good service isn't enough to make up for half-arsed expensive food. We paid forty pounds each for two courses, a pint and a cocktail apiece, and a bottle of half-price wine (special offer) between four. Presumably they get away with it because they can, the place was heaving.


Ecclesall Road South
S11 9PH

Prince of Wales on Urbanspoon

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