“ Type: Harvester Pub / Location: 105 Dartford Road, Dartford, Kent DA1 3EP / Tel: 01322220063 „
TIME FOR LUNCH
My husband and I had booked tickets to see our youngest daughter's stage school annual gala show. Our daughter had to be at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford for one o'clock on a Sunday although the actual performance didn't start until two o'clock in the afternoon. We thought that rather than wait around in the Mick Jagger Centre we would pass the time in a nearby pub and have a quick lunch. We had been in this pub before as our daughter is often doing something at this theatre either a show, rehearsal for a show or a competition. This was the first time that we had eaten in the Rising Sun, which belongs to the well-known Harvester chain of pub restaurants.
We were a little worried that we wouldn't have time to choose, order, wait for the meal to appear and eat in time for the show at the theatre which was nearby but thought we needed to eat so would order quickly and hope for the best.
As we entered the pub, a little after one p.m. we were pleased to see that although quite busy in the restaurant section the area around the bar had several vacant tables. As it was now Sunday lunchtime we thought the pub may have been too busy to obtain a table quickly. My husband ordered a drink and was told by the barman that he could order our food from the bar and sit where we liked in the pub; we didn't have to go the restaurant area. This suited us as we were in a hurry and thought this might be a speedier dining option than eating in the main restaurant and having to wait for someone to come up to us to take our order. I would have hated to miss the start of the show. At a nearby table we saw some acquaintances whose daughter and ours are friends from school and stage school and so were both appearing in the show. They said they had ordered food but like us were worried about time.
We chose fairly quickly due to the time which wasn't easy as we aren't all that familiar with Harvester menus. My husband chose a grilled Cajun chicken burger served in a bun with chips. This was priced at £5.79
And I chose (from the vegetarian section) stuffed open mushrooms filled with a mascarpone,
slow roasted tomato & chilli risotto, served with buttered baby potatoes, garden peas and a tomato half. This was priced at £6.79
I thought the menu quite versatile with the grills looking particularly good value. A grill could be chosen and then a side dish, sauce and salad chosen and included in the price. The menu included fish, steak burgers and pasta meals all reasonably priced with a good choice of side dishes and starters and desserts. Even if not liking one item you chose I think even a fussy eater would find something suitable on this menu. I would have chosen better if I had had more time.
As we sipped at our drinks we noticed that the pub was becoming very busy with people waiting for tables. This seemed to be a popular place for families as many children could be seen and heard.
We thought that this seemed to be a decent family pub and restaurant probably mainly serving the local area. Nothing posh about this place but the sort of place that is popular in most areas especially if wanting a reasonably priced Sunday lunch. The menu appeared to offer a good choice for adults and children and there was a small vegetarian section; a tempting choice of starters and sides and desserts sounded inviting.
Another thing that I consider good with this menu is that next to the meals are given number of calories contained in it. I don't actually count calories myself, although maybe I should but I imagine this is a good idea and would prove useful to many careful diners.
FOR THE YOUNGER DINER
I saw from the menu that Harvester don't do a separate children's' menu but offer the adult menu in smaller sizes and smaller prices for children aged under ten years. The child sized meals cost £4.19 each which sounds reasonable to me. Children's meals as with the adult meals also come with unlimited access to the salad bar.
A child could choose, for example, a 4oz portion of rump steak and then also choose a potato side dish such as: mashed potato, wedges, new potatoes, jacket or fries, and then choose a portion of either peas or beans to go with this. When considering the unlimited salad bar this seems great value for only £4.19. I also saw that children's desserts could cost as little as fifty pence for a portion of Jelly or some ice cream desserts for just one pound!
The child menu doubles as an activity page when turned over. It kept the young girl on the table next to ours occupied for a while, I noticed.
FOR THE VEGETARIAN DINER
Vegetarian dishes are marked with the usual green tick. As well as a few vegetarian main courses other options as starts and side a can be found on the main menu and children's menu.
I didn't enjoy my vegetarian choice but think I probably would have been better suited if I had chosen a side dish or two with salad but didn't really have as much time as I needed to peruse the menu properly.
*There is a mention on the menu that all dishes 'could' contain nuts and other allergens so this certainly isn't the best place to dine if you have problems in this area.
As soon as my husband ordered our food from the bar he was told to take a tray/basket containing sauces and cutlery. He was also told that we could help ourselves to the salad bar and were welcome to take as much as we wanted.
We both took a small bowl from the salad bar and this was enough for us. My husband isn't too enthusiastic over salad but in truth this was the best part of my meal. I chose cold new potatoes, pasta, beetroot, lettuce and cherry tomatoes which I then drizzled with a stilton cheese sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed this. We chose to eat our salad as a starter.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
Our friends nearby were served quickly and they had chosen from the early bird section of the menu. I was surprised at how quickly their food arrived and hoped ours would soon follow. It did and I suppose we only waited about fifteen minutes for our meals to arrive. My husband's meal was brought to our table and this was placed in front of him and then my meal followed straight after. However, I had ordered a main meal of stuffed mushrooms and the meal put in front of me was breaded mushroom with a dip. Once told this was taken away with an apology so I waited about ten to fifteen minutes for my correct meal to be served. In the time I waited I realised that I should have accepted the breaded mushrooms as they looked nice and I could have eaten at the same time as my husband AND if I had replenished my salad bowl the meal would have been of ample size. But as it had been quickly taken away I waited for my meal.
I waited for this meal of stuffed mushrooms which must have taken less than fifteen minutes to arrive. I wonder if this had been prepared but overlooked as when it arrived it seemed a little overdone or even dried out a bit.
I have to say I was disappointed. The potatoes were new but they weren't baby in size. The butter wasn't in evidence. I didn't really like the stuffing for the mushrooms as the rice was hard. The peas were hard and dry.
But my husband, on the other hand, was pleased with his meal and said he thoroughly enjoyed it and it was better than expected.
We didn't have time for dessert and the amount of food we had consumed was more than adequate size wise.
A BEER (OR TWO)
I had only one drink owing to time and this was a half pint of bitter shandy. My husband opted for a Carlsberg lager. He thought the choice of draught beer and lagers was good.
The Rising Sun has a small outside area with several tables and benches. Nothing fancy here but a pleasant enough area to enjoy a drink when the weather allows.
I didn't notice a disabled lavatory but think there might have been as once through the door that was marked toilets there were several doors, one being the ladies toilets and another the gents. There was at least one further door. I did notice that in the ladies one of the cubicles was fairly wide and roomy.
While we were in this pub we noticed a lady dining while in her wheelchair. Room was made for her by staff so that her wheelchair could fit near to her chosen table.
The pub is on one level so access is fairly easy.
The Rising Sun has car parking for patrons to the front and side of the building. When we arrived there were still some parking spaces available but we chose, instead, to use on street parking in a road at the side of the pub.
Although I didn't enjoy my main meal I would visit here again as for us this pub provided what we needed-a reasonable meal for a reasonable price served quickly.
I would say it is an okay place to have a meal but not really anywhere suitable for a special occasion. It is okay but really not somewhere to get dressed up for or to go overboard about. However in its favour was the fact that we found the service friendly, polite and helpful. The food on the whole (taking into account that I didn't think mine was great but my husband enjoyed his) was of a fair standard. The interior décor of the pub wasn't great either and although it was comfortable it did look as if a lick of paint wouldn't go amiss, especially in the toilets.
For a fair priced lunch or early evening meal, especially for a family with young children, then it may fit the bill. For those wanting something a little more upmarket it may well fall short.