New dish at The Fish

HEARING the Fisherman's Return had given its menu a fresh look with some vegan dishes I thought I'd drop in and try them out.

I'll confess I don't need much of an excuse to go to the pub, but this was purely in the interests of research - honest!

My first visit was with a friend at lunchtime and I plumped for the pumpkin seed and chestnut fritters. We didn't have long to wait before our food was on the table, served by barman Paul and the kitchen staff.

Paul is as friendly as can be and will happily join in with a singsong if you’re lucky enough to be there in the evening.

My dish was served with sweet and sour sauce and chips. Fried in vegetable oil, which all meals are at the Fishermans, the pumpkin seeds were soft, not crunchy like you would expect them to be. They were delicious, although chewy. The chestnut taste and texture was a reminder of Christmas and blended very well with the pumpkin.

My next meal was on an evening visit when Janine was in charge behind the bar. She always manages to make you feel welcome.

This time I chose the loaded BBQ pulled jackfruit nachos. I've had the usual version of this dish so I was curious to see how the vegan version compared - and it compared well. I had to ask Janine what the substitute for the meat was. To quote a very corny phrase it tasted like chicken. But the answer was of course in the dish title, pulled jackfruit.

The cheese substitute actually tasted cheesy, not like the mild soapy real cheese so many places serve. I was told it was a grated coconut-based product called Violife.

I'm not vegan but wouldn't mind eating either dish again, although I've yet to try the fish lasagne, which is new to the specials board.

On my third visit (what can I say? I'm dedicated to my task) I went for one of the old specials board dishes that have been introduced to the permanent menu, mackerel with salad and new potatoes, although I held on the potatoes, because I knew the salad bar would be filling anyway.

The mackerel was cooked to perfection and scraped off the skin like a dream. At the salad bar one could choose to eat healthy or load on the calorific sauces. Guess which one I went for?

The pub is dog friendly, so you don't need to worry about leaving your furry family members at home. In fact on my last visit I was joined at the bar by a beautiful Labrador who must have heard about the dog treats.