The Pilot proves perfect for parental get away

Local gastro pub lives up to its reputation


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An evening spent dining with the parents of your childrens' class mates can be one fraught with social angst. What if they don't like us? What if we don't like them?  We have to see these people at least twice a day, one hundred and ninety five days of the year for the next eight years - some for even longer! 

A parent's night out used to be a strictly Mums only affair however, the trend appears to have turned and now Dads are invited along too (much to the distress of my husband who was utterly convinced that this was some kind of hoax and that he would be the only male around at the table!)

A table for twenty was booked at The Pilot in Wellesley Road.  Taken over last year by local brewers Fullers, The Pilot has long been lauded as an excellent gastro pub whilst enduring the dubious reputation as being the bar of choice of a certain local estate agency firm.

Don't be put off the The Pilot's characterless exterior as inside is a large airy dining room with solid rustic wooden tables set at comfortable distances from each other around a bar area.  The pale cream walls are adorned with modern prints which, upon closer inspection, are available for sale.  On this cold Thursday evening, the clientele were a lively mixture of young twenty somethings, office workers and of course us parents of whom none would have fallen into the first category but nevertheless dressed to impress and looking forward to a good meal.

It was decided that we should order a few sharing platters to start. Piled high with guacamole, tabbouleh, hummus, marinated Greek feta, babaganoush, tzatziki, olives and grilled Turkish bread, this feast was not only a delicious Middle Eastern medley, it was also great value at £7.75.

The great thing about reviewing restaurants with a large number of people is getting to taste many different dishes therefore offering first hand experience of what's on offer as opposed to simply salivating over the the menu. 

I ordered the open char-grilled smoked peppers and pork burger (£9.75) which came with mixed leaves, french fries and red onion relish.  The generously sized burger was tasty although a little dry was lifted by the red onion relish and perfectly dressed salad.  My husband decided on the char-grilled Irish rub eye steak (£13.25) served with chunky chips, green beans, mixed salad and peppercorn sauce.  A wonderful piece of meat cooked exactly as he ordered (medium but not too medium!) and he definitely won on the chip side. 

I know it's a rather pitiful thing to admit, but I really look forward to a good chip when I go out and believe me I have tried many.  Although The Pilot's french fries were light and perfectly crispy, the big chips (side dish £2.50) are exactly, in my humble opinion, what a pub chip should be - chunky wedges of thick potato, lightly brown and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside - magnificent.

Our fellow dining companions enjoyed Gorgonzola risotto with peas and leeks (£9.50), Chicken caesar salad (£7.75), Roast beef and Guinness sausages served with sweet corn mash potato, green beans and gravy (£9.75), Char-grilled marling steak served with wok fried purple potatoes, french beans, red onions, capers and salsa verde (£11.75) and Thai salmon fishcake with rocket and palm heart salad with tomato ginger and chili jam (£7.75).  Each dish was greeted with the same enthusiasm and was thoroughly enjoyed although no one was adventurous enough to give the Seared kangaroo steak at go.

The preference was for white wine and we drank The Pilot's excellent house white - Honore de Berticot 2004 Semillon priced at £11.50 - well worth every penny. 

Service was not included in the bill which, when divided by twenty people and a well deserved tip was added, came to £20 per head - remarkably good value for a superb meal. 

I am also happy report that the evening also proved a great social success with everyone getting on swimmingly with their new found friends - which is indeed good news considering the length of time we've all got together!


Emma Brophy


April 1, 2006