The Walter Arms
Sindlesham RG41 5BP
0118 977 4903
THE historic Walter Arms is a venue you’ve probably driven past many times and wondered what it’s like inside.
Well, after an extensive makeover from new owners, it is safe to say that this is a pub that respects its heritage while also looks to the future, writes Claire Worsfold.
Last Sunday, my family visited the Bearwood Road pub to see for ourselves.
The pub dates back to the 19th century. It was originally built by John Walter III – who owned the Bearwood estate at the time – for the workers on his land to have somewhere to go after a hard day’s toil.
The Walter family launched The Times and edited it for many years: John Walter was imprisoned for his belief in a free press.
So it’s pleasing to see so many little touches in the pub that refer to this heritage.
But there’s more to it.
The Old Spot Pub Co launched two-and-a-half years ago and is a group of seven across the country.
It knows how to respect the past, and the makeover – which was launched in June – pays tribute to its heritage with original fireplaces bar area and stonework whilst oozing style and sophistication with an emphasis on modern gastro eating.
A new menu has been introduced with a focus on fresh seafood.
It has been devised by the Old Spot’s head of food and The Walter Arms pub: they say it came together after they spent time listening to feedback and suggestions from diners.
On our arrival we were greeted by manager Claudio and assistant manager Laura who showed us to our table in the bar area.
There is also a stunning barn filled with charm and character just across the courtyard from the main pub seating 45 people for a seated function or 100 standing, housing its own bar that can be hired out for functions and events.
We were introduced to our waiter for the evening, John, who detailed the meals on the specials menu and left us to peruse the extensive main menu.
A quick glance showed that vegetarian and gluten free diets were well catered for, alongside a children’s menu and traditional roast on Sundays.
Bespoke menus are available on request and all dietary needs catered for.
Never have my family and I been so quiet – we studied the menu for a long time. We felt there was so much choice and there were plenty of mouthwatering descriptions, making it really was hard for us to make decisions.
After much deliberation for starters, myself and my husband opted for the vegetarian Mezze Sharing board (£17).
This comprised roasted red peppers, grilled halloumi, hummus, olives, falafel,artichoke and flatbreads. Being a lady that can never make her mind up this was a perfect choice, a chance to try a bit of everything.
I was not disappointed.
My son chose the Gambas Al Ajillo (£10), which came with garlic, red chilli lemon and crusty bread (£10) this was very swiftly and quietly finished off, even, using the bread crusts to mop up the remaining sauce, amazing for a boy that never eats his crusts at home.
“I could eat that all over again” was his response.
My daughter went for her favourite – Camembert (£14). This came oven baked garlic and rosemary camembert with a sourdough bread and roasted garlic Jam (£14). Although this is one of the sharing boards, we persuaded her to have it so that we could all have a taste as well.
The starters were simply stunning.
Our attentive, friendly and extremely knowledgeable waiter checked that everything was OK and took our orders for our mains which, again after much deliberation and lots of questions fired at unphased John, we all finally made our choices.
For my mains I chose Josper Fried Seabass on crushed garlic new potatoes with crispy parsnips and vinegar Sauce.
What can I say but “food heaven”? Rarely am I quiet for so long.
This has to be one of the best meals I’ve had in my life, an infusion of flavours to tantalise all of my taste buds. It’s so heavenly that occasionally, my mind recalls this dish. Priced at £16.50 and worth every penny, this will go down as one of my all-time favourite dishes.
My Husband went for the classic Sunday roast: roast topside of beef presented beautifully and served with roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables,yorkshire pudding and gravy (£15.50).
“That was spot on,” was his comment as he cleared his plate. “Ten out of 10.”
After I had informed my 12-year-old son that while the pizza menu did look appealing, perhaps it would be nice to choose something different.
He finally opted for the Chicken breast stuffed with Mozzarella, sundried tomato and basil served with buttered mash,green beans and red pepper sauce (£16).
He wasn’t disappointed, in fact he finished every mouthful.
“Can you make this at home, Mum?” he asked, ensuring that it was definitely a hit with him.
Last, but not least, my daughter opted for the Swordfish steak with greek salad and feta cheese (£15).
“This swordfish is cooked to perfection,” was her verdict.
With very full tummies we still managed to squeeze in a dessert, albeit one dessert with four spoons! We shared a strawberry and white chocolate vanilla cheesecake (£7.50).
A mouthful eat was enough to finish our evening of gastronomical delights.
And there’s more to The Walter: there is an extensive wine and beer menu on offer.
Overall I could not fault our evening. The staff were professional, attentive, friendly and very knowledgeable.
The service was excellent (special mention goes to our fantastic waiter John), the food was nothing short of sensational, I really can’t wait to go back to work my way down the menu.
A big well done to Claudio and his team.