In the current economic climate we should be doing everything we can to support our local businesses.
When it comes to good food there are only so many chain pubs and restaurants I can go to before every menu starts to look the same. With that in mind my partner and I travelled to Laughton to try out the food at The Hatfield Arms.
It was a Saturday afternoon and there were a few people inside having a drink. The barmaid showed us through to the dining room, handing us a menu and showing us the two specials boards.
The menu had plenty of variety, with dishes ranging from lasagne and gammon to the more unusual chilean seabass and chicken balti.
To sample as much of the delicious menu as possible I ordered a starter - creamy garlic mushrooms (£4.25) and chicken with bacon and cheese in a barbecue sauce for my main (£7.95).
All main meals come with a choice of chips, new potatoes or jacket potato and salad and peas.
My partner was tempted by the mixed grill, which at £10.95 seemed too good to be true.
We were the only ones in the dining room, so it was long before my mushrooms arrived. I was greeted with a piping hot bowl of freshly cooked mushrooms in a delicious creamy sauce, with slices of baguette on the side. The sauce was the perfect mixture of cream, herbs and garlic and had slices of onion in.
There was so much in front of me that I would have loved to have cleared my plate but wanted to leave some room for what followed. Just a few minutes later impressive plates of piping hot main meals were put in front of us both.
I had two chicken breasts with bacon and cheese covered with a tangy barbacue sauce. It was cooked to perfection and my jacket potato was crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle. The only slight downside was there was a bit too much barbecue sauce on the plate, which made my salad go a little soggy.
My partner was greeted with a plateful of meat including pork, lamb, liver, steak, sausage and gammon, accompanied with homemade chips, salad, peas, mushrooms and onion rings. His eyes lit up as he tucked in. He said it was well worth the price and his chips were some of the best he’d tasted.
For two drinks, my starter and two mains, the bill came to just £25.35 - brilliant for the amount of freshly cooked food we were given.
The next time you pass your local pub, don’t carry on driving to your run-of-the-mill chain restaurant, pop inside and sample its delights. You’re supporting your local economy and, if like the people of Laughton, experiencing a gem right on your doorstep.
By Sam Chetwynd