As promised back in August when the Half Moon became part of the Chef & Brewer chain I've finally had chance to eat there on a couple of occasions, the first time a couple of weeks ago and today (16th October 2011).
On our first trip back to the Half Moon we ate on a Sunday with my parents and the first thing we noticed was how much lighter it was inside – As my Mum put it, "It was more like no moon than Half Moon before". The new interior is much nicer and brighter.
We arrived at around 1:30PM and it was fairly busy, we were seated quickly, but unfortunately it did mean that the drinks took about 15 minutes to arrive and also our food order to be taken – not an ideal situation. We ordered:
- Steak & Ale Pie
- Chorizo Chicken
- 2 x Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Chips
Once ordered the food took approximately 30 minutes to arrive – a little on the long side, but I'd rather that than it take a couple of minutes because it had been kept in a warmer all day as on our last visit to the Half Moon where I wouldn't have even inflicted the food on the bin, let alone the dog.
The plates along with the food were all hot, and well presented, with portions that initially seemed quite small but were plenty filling enough. The food itself was of a good quality and generally well cooked – although if we're being picky the chicken was a little over-cooked and the pie had obviously been frozen and defrosted in a microwave before being finished in an oven as the pastry had a chewiness to it that only comes from a microwave which was somewhat disappointing as it would have otherwise been an excellent pie. For £40 with soft drinks for four people, the food was more than acceptable.
On the second occasion we visited this time with my future in-laws in the raised area overlooking the gardens – which could still do with being a little bit brighter, but much better than it was previously. Again it was a Sunday but we were a little later in the day, we were seated straight away and drinks took about 5 minutes to arrive this time – much better. Once our order was taken it was about 20-25 minute before the food arrived, this time we had:
- Cod & Chips (there's also generic "Fish & Chips" on the menu as well)
- Veggie Burger with Sweet Potato Chips
- 6oz Rump Steak Burger
Once again the food was of good quality and portion size, served on hot plates. The cod looked more like a baby whale, arriving hanging over the ends of the plate in a cracked black pepper batter which was thick, crunchy and light without stodginess and without the pepper being over-powering.
One thing that was pleasing is that the chips were obviously cooked fresh for the order, not the usual soggy affair you normally get when they've been kept in a warmer – with this in mind though, they could have been hand cut rather than out of a bag (nice as they were) if they are being cooked for each order, but that's a minor point that could make the food great rather than just good. The lasagne and burgers were declared as good as well.
The bill this time came to roughly the same at £41 for the four of us including soft drinks.
- Much lighter interior
- Better menu choices
- Friendlier staff
- Food of much higher quality than the previous chain
- Not enough staff so it can take a while to get served
- Sometimes food is defrosted from frozen
- A few little changes could make it excellent food