It’s not that common, in my experience, for a pub, or even a restaurant, to satisfy a simple test – the ability to serve a delicious Sunday lunch. There is a tendency for the kitchen, anticipating that hordes of customers will all descend at the same time, to prepare the food decades in advance of its consumption. Fresh it certainly isn’t. However, The Half Moon at Melplash, now under new direction from Karl Bashford and his wife Suzie, formerly of The Three Horseshoes in Powerstock, passes the Sunday lunch test with great ease and does so at very reasonable prices.
From what looked like a very promising list of seven starters we sampled home-cured gravadlax, seafood chowder and wood pigeon terrine. Each was delicious and well balanced. The salmon was complemented but not overwhelmed by pickles and horseradish, the chowder was generous and full of chunks of smoked haddock, scallops and mussels and the terrine was outstanding. I usually avoid this type of dish: it too often lacks flavour, is too dry and normally arrives straight from the fridge. This moist terrine was slightly warm, which released its flavours, was packed with more hazelnuts than a Topic and had a meaty, garlic punch which reminded me of the delights of the best provincial French table.
Main courses of roast beef and pork may sound rather unexciting, however each was excellent and five others including fish were available. The beef was sirloin – not a cut you will often see offered for Sunday lunch in a pub. It was cooked medium rare, not overdone as so often. The accompanying Yorkshire pudding (which also came with the pork) was light and fresh and the interesting assortment of vegetables was perfectly al dente.
A pudding of profiteroles also showed great judgment. The pastry was warm and provided a lovely embrace for the salted caramel ice cream inside.
My only slight disappointment with The Half Moon is the carpet; if I were being charitable I’d say it was a 70s dream – not swirly, just ghastly. On the other hand it provides an interesting contrast with the great food and warm welcome from the staff. Don’t let it put you off. I’ll always take good food in preference to smart decor and very good food is what’s in store at The Half Moon.