Hands up who is pleased to see a familiar chain restaurant nearby when you check into a budget hotel? Yeah, me too. With more of us travelling for work, or just looking to save the pennies when we’re away for short breaks, or occasions like hen parties, having a good place to eat without breaking the bank is an important option. When Beefeater asked me to review their new restaurant, Moseley Park, I decided to accept and investigate their offering.
Beefeater has been running restaurants since the 70s, but it appears to me that they’re currently in the process of trying to modernise the brand, and appeal to younger diners. With expanding into side brands like Bar + Block, inviting in bloggers and with new menu items popping up outside of the usual gastro-pub classics, it certainly looks that way.
Moseley Park is located next door to a Premier Inn, and has a sizeable carpark, which is free to use in the evenings. Be aware you will need change if you’re visiting during the day! The restaurant itself is clean and classic, with the familiar Beefeater fit out, but with some quirky details, like this sign in the lobby, which made me smile.
We were seated quickly, and our friendly waitress was immediately at the table to take drink orders. We hit our first snag of the evening, where after taking drink orders, we were then immediately asked if we would like to join Beefeater’s loyalty scheme. I know most brands with loyalty cards require staff to ask all visitors, but it seemed very odd to do this right at the start of the evening, when we hadn’t even opened a menu yet. Our waitress was incredibly polite about it, but Beefeater, if this is what you ask your staff to do, it’s quite awkward. At least wait until people have eaten.
The restaurant was mostly empty during our visit, with only a handful of tables around us occupied, so I was surprised when our waitress asked three times in the space of a few minutes if we were ready to order. We’re not usually slow to choose, but I do like to be able to have some of my drink and chat a little while I’m looking at the menu, and we did feel like we should have just sat and immediately picked something. Our waitress was super friendly, and very polite, just perhaps a touch over attentive.
Beefeater currently have a selection of specials they’re calling the Great Taste of Britian. The dishes are modern british classics, and are limited edition. We chose a starter from this menu, and went for the Deli Sharing Plate. The plate has slices of dry-cured ham, two kinds of salami, stilton, cheddar, brie, pork pie, ciabatta bread, and is accompanied by an olive and feta mix, red onion marmalade and brown sauce. The platter arrived very quickly, and looked really appetising, with generous portions of all the items. Everything on it was tasty and simple, but I must admit, I really don’t understand what the brown sauce was doing as part of it. We both spread a little on the pie, but as there was only half a pie each, it seemed odd to have a huge pot of the sauce, as we couldn’t think of anything else on the plate that it would complement. Are they people out there eating brown sauce on stilton that I don’t know about? The butter provided with the bread was also a bit stingy. If it was up to me, I’d get rid of the brown sauce, and provide a ramekin of butter in it’s place.
Within moments of our starter being cleared, our mains hit the table. Again, as it was quiet, I was surprised that they felt the need to get courses out so fast, as they obviously didn’t need the table back quickly.
On the recommendation of our waitress, I ordered the 8oz Sirloin, with béarnaise sauce and skinny, spicy fries. Beefeater now offer the choice of chunky or skinny chips, which you can have regular or spicy. They also offer free refills on chips, which is a nice touch. The chips themselves were good, crisp on the outside, fluffy inside and well flavoured with the spice mix. The sauce was creamy and full of flavour. The steak, unfortunately, wasn’t great. I ordered medium rare, and it was immediately obvious it wasn’t cooked like that when I cut into it. and was in fact cooked to medium. I don’t mind medium steak, so I ate it anyway, but it was a shame, especially as I’d ordered the sirloin because it was suggested to us as an excellent item on the menu. I do think if you call yourself a steakhouse, cooking steak as ordered should be about the minimum requirement, really.
Dave did much better with his choice of Minted Rump of Lamb. Ironically, the lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was pink in the middle and beautifully tender, with a crisp chargrilled coating. The dauphinoise potatoes were well cooked too, and the red wine and thyme sauce was well flavoured and tasty. I had some pretty serious food envy.
By this point, I’d spotted the British specials also included fancy gin and tonics. They offer three different gins, with a choice of garnishes. As a gin fan, I was pleased to see this, so I ordered a Sipsmith’s gin, with the elderflower syrup and lime. After a few moments, our waitress reappeared and told me they only had elderflower cordial. After some confusion of me trying to explain I wanted the one advertised on the British specials menu and the waitress looking blank, I had to give her the menu and point out where the new gin options were advertised. This had to be taken to the bar for the barman to see before I could get the drink I ordered. I know all too well that new menus are confusing, having worked in chain pubs myself, but the British menu isn’t that large, and I would expect Beefeater to be training their staff on new items, especially on something as basic as splashing some elderflower syrup into a G&T.
Our main plates were cleared quickly, and our desserts arrived almost instantly. By this point, we’d been in the building less than an hour, which is much too fast for three courses. While prompt service is good, being given your food within seconds of ordering it makes you feel very rushed, which seems daft when the place is quiet. I felt uncomfortably full as I’d tried to cram in the food so fast, when I hadn’t actually eaten an extravagant amount.
For dessert, I chose the Lemon Curd Sorbet. Garnished with a sprig of (I think) mint, it looked attractive, and was light and refreshing. The lemon was sharp, and the ripples of lemon curd were a nice touch of sweetness.
Dave opted for the Banoffee Pie. It looked delicious, with slices of banana laid on top, with a drizzle of caramel sauce, instead of the usual thick layer in the middle. According to Dave, this was better than the traditional method, as it made the dessert a lot less rich and sickly, but still had plenty of tasty caramel flavour.
All in all, our experience was a bit of a mixed bag. Dave was pleased with everything he ate, and it did look good. I was disappointed by my steak, and by the palaver of trying to order something more complex than a standard house gin and tonic. I definitely felt the rapid pace of courses was too much, especially with the restaurant not being busy. Three courses in an hour is not for me. The restaurant itself was pleasant inside, and all the staff we spoke to were super friendly. You’d be well looked after if you were eating here while staying at the Premier Inn next door.
I still think Beefeater is a good option if you’re on the road, and want something easy, but if they are trying to push the boat out a little with some trendier menu options, they do need to make sure their staff are actually aware they exist. They also need to be careful not to lose quality on the sort of food people associate with the brand, like the steaks. We didn’t sign up for that loyalty card…
I was invited to review Moseley Park Beefeater, for a meal up to the value of £60. The rest was paid for by myself. All opinions are honest and my own.