I once knew a man who was obsessed with pork pies the way some blokes are with women. If there was a new one in the offing he had to try it.
So when I drove down some country lane, saw a sign which said ‘home made pork pies,’ ate one and wrote about it, he was on the blower getting directions.
We agreed the pie was, how shall we put it, ‘robust.’
I’m like that with meat pies, which must have a proper top and bottom and are, hopefully, a portion from a tray. If things are that way with you then try the acme of meat pies at the Scotsman’s Pack, Hathersage, and ask for a corner section.
Recently we fancied a run out in the country, thought of the Strines, checked Trip Advisor and saw a reference to their pies of the day: “Not a stew with a puff pastry top,” said one reviewer and I was there like a shot.
The steak and ale pie (£9.25), unlike some of the other stuff at the Strines, is certainly home made. It has a thin pastry top and bottom, is generously filled with meat and very little vegetable ‘padding’ but you can’t miss the overwhelming, gloopy, Oxo-like taste of its sauce. You could certainly call it robust.
Now some pie lovers might get a little sniffy about this but we can all do with a bit of gloop in our lives from time to time, especially when washed down with Jenning’s Cocker Hoop.
There is a time and a place for gloop and you won’t get a better time than early evening at the Strines, a place straight out of Hollywood’s Central Casting.
There has been a building on the site since 1275 – a manor house – which was rebuilt in 1560 and became a pub in 1771. The right wing was built in 1750 and the left wing in 1860, upon which it flew away. No, that’s a joke.
The first landlord was John Morton, from 1771-82, and the current, Bruce Howarth, is the 21st and has been there since 2003, although not when we called.
There are three bars, in a line, and we sat in the middle one. Rows of brass kettles and pots hang from the ceiling, a stuffed squirrel peeks from a branch above the bar itself, keeping company with what might have been a stoat, a detached ram’s head and a sad looking badger.
You could probably build a small sailing ship with all the oak beams and posts, while on the walls hang old photos of military men, family holidays in Blackpool circa 1900 and the Spring Fitting Department’s day out when life was sepia.
Upstairs are rooms with four poster beds (for the Strines does B&B) while outside a small muster of peacocks (for that is the collective term) eye up patrons at the tables for chips.
Now all this is perfectly fine but I wouldn’t call the Strines either a poncey pub or a gastro pub. The former thinks it is good when it isn’t, the latter is. No, it’s what I call a pubby pub.
Food is a mixture of homemade and bought-in and the menu’s promise about fresh food is sometimes more an aspiration than a pledge, as politicians might say: the veg with my pie were frozen.
But if you pick your way around and choose the liver and onions, say, the mammoth mixed grill, the steak or gammon then it’s going to be rustled up in the kitchen.
My game and port pate (£4.70), served with almost burnt toast, wasn’t. It smelled very porty, tasted too liverish and had no texture. My wife’s prawn cocktail (£4.70) gained no marks for ungainly presentation, being served in a dish, but tasted OK.
Her tuna and mozzarella fishcakes (£8.95) appeared on the specials board and may or may not have originated in the pub kitchen but reminded me very much like those Findus frozen pancakes we used to be given when mum was busy.
Portions are generous.
If you look at the reviews on the internet of the Strines (the name means a meeting of water and the pub overlooks Dale Dyke reservoir) opinion is divided over the efficiency or otherwise of the noticeably young staff.
All I will say is that the chap behind the bar did seem to disappear for some time when I wanted to order another drink or food and his colleague, who arrived later, found more important things to do (such as reading) while I stood waiting.
The pub, incidentally, has a decent slate of real beers, including Marstons Pedigree and EPA, and Hobgoblin. I was surprised, though, it had no Sheffield beers.
Desserts are chiefly ice creams and cakes. The apple pie is not home made but the treacle sponge (£3.90) is. Think about what your mum might have rustled up on a Sunday and you’ve got it in one. I rather liked it.
The Strines is dog and children friendly (kids have their own menu, including macaroni cheese).
The pub is recommended for a run out or a stop on a hike.
After all, you don’t find peacocks and pies together in many places, do you?
We paid £31.50 for food.
The Dawes Verdict
Mortimer Road, Bradfield Dale, Sheffield S6 6JE.
Tel: 0114 285 1247.
Food served noon-9pm all week.
Vegetarian and children’s dishes.
Large car park