review by Janine Pulford
The Albion Inn in Verwood has a new lease of life.
A pub with an interesting history, it was once a hotel alongside Verwood train station. It became an inn many years ago when the hotel facilities were lost. Today, the Albion’s beer garden is where the railway station once stood and the Albion itself is one of the few remaining countryside pubs that has retained the charm of a bygone era.
Even the menu reflects some serious 60s’ dishes like classic prawn cocktail, paté with toast, scampi and chips, fish pie and a black forest gateau.
There are great plans for the inn with a new extension that will be built later in the year to extend the bar and dining area, but the landlord, Paul, who arrived in September, has intentions of keeping the pub local. He’s already introduced darts once a week.
He and his bar attendant Julie made us very welcome. Nick and I enjoyed a pleasant evening with a lot of happy customers and felt part of the scene.
We chose to sit in the bar where it was cosy and busy rather than in the dining area at the back of the pub, which overlooks the garden.
The food was served in decent portions and was pub grub with several unusual additions including vegan dishes to bring the dining experience bang up to date.
To start I chose the classic prawn cocktail. It even came with thin sliced white bread – just like the old days. The sauce was tangy, there was cayenne to give it a kick and the salad was incredibly fresh. It tasted like it had just been picked. Nick’s Asian prawns with sweet chilli dip were juicy and warm and the crunchy batter was light and moreish. If anything was missing, it was a squirt of lemon.
Our mains didn’t take long to arrive. My chilli no carne (vegan) was really spicy and saucy, rich in flavour and about twice as much as I needed. The rice was perfectly cooked. I felt guilty for not asking for a small portion because I couldn’t eat it all. Nick said his generous portion of chicken red Thai curry with rice was flavoursome. Unusually it came with two vegetable spring rolls, which were deliciously crunchy and I shared them.
We were both overfull and though we hankered for the black forest gateau to finish off, we couldn’t have fitted it in.
Instead, I finished the meal with a Whitley Neill rhubarb and ginger gin mixed with a Fever Tree ginger ale. It was light and refreshing. Nick, having enjoyed a Heineken with his meal, opted for plain water with lemon and equally enjoyed that so he could drive us home safely.
Other beverages among the wines, spirits and various gins include Sixpenny Handley beer 6d Best, Sharps Sea Fury and Guinness.
Food is served seven days a week with specials every day and a roast on Sunday 12pm-4pm. Over 70 people can be seated for dinner with more room in the garden in good weather.
There is quiz every Tuesday at 8.30pm, live music once a month on a Sunday, the pub is dog- friendly, vape-friendly, has a jukebox and even has spare spectacles for those who have forgotten them and can’t see the menu!
Paul has a smile for everyone and I can quite see why this pub has become so popular in recent months. Although it does not have a dedicated sports bar, Paul says he will be screening the Rugby Six Nations in the bar.
For a local experience, satisfying food and a friendly welcome, take a trip to The Albion Inn.