Having heard good things about the Green Man in Norton Disney, I was surprised how quiet the venue was on a Saturday evening.
The refurbished country pub and restaurant offers a handsome and welcoming image, especially at night, but as we entered, it came as a shock to find only one person in the bar and just two couples using the restaurant.
The drinks prices were not excessive and the staff were welcoming and friendly. We were shown to our table and, after reading the menu and the varied specials board, we decided that the food prices were also very reasonable.
To start, I chose a pub staple of chicken liver paté with red onion marmalade. My companion went for crispy duck, both dishes were from the menu.
My paté was of a good quality and the bread that accompanied it was warm and rustic. The onion marmalade was excellent and went very nicely with the dish.
My companion enjoyed the crispy duck, served with the usual pancakes, cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce, but found the duck itself a little dry.
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Rather than meat cooked on the bone then shredded, the duck seemed to have been crisped in small pieces therefore losing some of its moist appeal.
Both starters were presented well however, and were exactly right in terms of portion size.
The waiting staff were young but very friendly and enthusiastic, and certainly put us at ease. The restaurant décor was simple and uncluttered though a little bland.
Sticking with the traditional pub fayre, I chose the sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce as a main course, while my companion chose the duo of rabbit from the specials board. The steak really was cooked to perfection and, unusually for a sirloin, there was nothing left of it when I'd finished.
The accompaniments of grilled tomato, onion rings and field mushrooms made this a good, if simple plateful, and the homemade chips served with it too were particularly tasty.
I was a little disappointed that the peppercorn sauce lacked any real depth, being especially mild and creamy.
The sauce served with my companion's rabbit, however, could not have been more different.
The red wine and rosemary gravy was rich and hearty, adding further appeal to the gamey dish.
Served with roasted potatoes, the two legs and rolled, herb-stuffed breast made for filling autumnal comfort food, but so much so that my companion would have sacrificed one of the rabbit legs for a seasonal vegetable or two to lighten the load of the dish.
We shared a dessert of sticky toffee pudding and were pleasantly surprised by the light, moist sponge, with a separate deliciously buttery butterscotch sauce, served with ice cream and a brandy snap.
On reflection, I can't imagine anyone being too disappointed with a meal at the Green Man.
They offer well prepared, uncomplicated food at reasonable prices, while the service was friendly, but not hurried or intrusive.
Green men pop up in folklore through the ages and the man of the forest is generally recognised as a symbol of renaissance.
I do hope that the name of this establishment is a good omen, and this quiet Saturday evening was a one-off, because, from what I have seen, it would be a shame if more people didn't experience what the Green Man has to offer.
THE FOOD: Three course meal for two people, with one large and one small glass of Merlot. Plus half a pint of bitter and one diet Coke.
FINAL VERDICT: Quiet country pub, with comfortable restaurant. Good food, well sourced and prepared, with friendly, efficient service.
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