Don’t shout it too loudly but I am quite a fan of eating out at Marston’s food serving pubs.
Admittedly they aren’t going to interest the inspectors from Michelin and the like. And while I do favour restaurants that lean in that direction, there is something rather satisfying about eating in pubs such as The Apple Cart - which I visited on Saturday - on the growing Cardea development.
I have been several times to the sister pub in Bourne (The SugarMill) and always enjoyed the experience, but landing the Peterborough Telegraph Pub of the Year award was reason enough in itself for paying a visit to The Apple Cart.
That award was earned on the strength of customer votes and it is easy to see why people like the place; we received a warm welcome, and the service until we left (to a cheery “have a happy new year”) was exemplary and pretty quick considering how busy the pub was.
The menu is packed with good pub fayre - steaks, burgers, fish and chips, pie, lasagna - not to mention a specials board packed with tempting offerings and a decent children’s menu.
I went with the 10 oz rump steak (£14.00), which came with chips (frozen , none of that twice cooked nonsense!), onion rings which were crisp and tasty, peas, which were ... peas, and a half-grilled tomato, which was, well, half-grilled.
The star of the show, of course, was the steak - which was more rare than medium. It might have put some diners off, but was just as I like it, especially with that straight off the griddle taste.
Donna swapped chips for a salad and tucked into an 80z sirloin (£14.30), which was served medium and very much enjoyed.
The two girls devoured their burger/chicken dippers, which like the chips, were not too greasy at all. They followed that up with, in one case, chocolate brownie and ice cream, and the other lemon drizzle and ice cream. Their silence spoke volumes.
I rounded things off with a lovely sticky toffee pudding (£4.20) - a nice, moist pudding and an ever so sweet gooey covering which could have done with an extra scoop of ice cream to help it go down.
The two for one offer, which meant my steak was free, saw the bill, with drinks, come to just £40 ... another reason, I guess, for the popularity.
VENUE: The Apple Cart, Bellona Drive, Cardea, Peterborough (tel 01733302480)
BRAD’S RATING: 7
FROM THE MENU:
Spicy gumbo croquettes - long grain rice with chili and fiery peppers bound with mozarella cheese and coated in panko crumb £4.70
Halloumi and Indian pickle - a slice of garlic bread topped with grilled halloumi served with a sweet and spicy Indian pickle £4.70
A mince steak ragu bound with Italian egg pasta and flavoured with basil and oregano coated in rutic panko crumb £4.70
Red pepper and jalapeno burger topped with chunky smoked harissa houmus and served with chips and coleslaw £10.25
Steak and ale pie
British beef slow cooked in a rich Marston’s beer gravy and encased in a hand-made combination of short-crust and puff pastry, served with chips, peas and gravy £11.35
Sausage and mash
Three pork sausages on a bed of mashed potato topped with red onion gravy. £10
Rack of ribs
Two half-racks of lip smackingly tender sticky barbecue pork ribs, covered in barbecue sauce and served with chips, onion rings, corn on the cob and coleslaw. £14