Toby Carvery is a roast dinner institution, and for a pub that specialises in precisely one meal, the stakes are high.
At the brand’s Chadderton Park restaurant, wedged next to a Travelodge, things are no different.
Diners are her for one thing and one thing only – plates piled high with roast dinner and all the trimmings.
Toby Carverys generally receive a mixed bag of reviews, and this establishment has had almost 200 ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ reviews on Tripadvisor.
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One reviewer wrote: “Food awful service even worse, worse place to eat ever.”
Another said: “Don’t have the Yorkshire puddings unless you want to lose a tooth or two.”
These reviews are pretty damning, but are also counteracted with other patrons gushing over their visit.
“Amazing food, nice and warm, good service & good options. The server was fast and the food was cheap.”
One reviewer even said the pub is so good that they ‘could not recommend more’.
My experience was a lot more mediocre.
There is a clue in the name for this one, it’s a carvery, so you expect a carvery.
A delicious plate, full to bursting with fluffy yet crunchy roast potatoes, a Yorkshire pudding so crisp and rosy, it almost seems a shame to coat it in a thick, rich gravy.
The veg should have a crunch, a sweet flavour to counteract the savoury deliciousness of the meat and the mix of trimmings, from stuffing to sauces should capture your senses before you’ve even taken a bite.
At this Toby’s, the offering hit maybe 50% of this description.
The Yorkshire pudding: truly faultless. It was golden with a crunch to match autumn leaves. The gravy: thick, flavourful, available in both meatysaurus and vegetarian options. The rest: Eh, acceptable.
The turkey was dry. The kind of dry that meant when the carver was carving it, it cut not in slices but in small, frayed chunks like sawdust. The potatoes, in roasted form, were crisp on the outside and that’s that, no fluff, not much flavour. Meanwhile in mashed form, they were sweet and goopy. The vegetables were acceptable, certainly nothing worthy of review.
Are you being served?
The enjoyment of post-Covid self service was definitely something missed by the patrons of the Chadderton Park Toby Carvery.
One reviewer, who left one star on Tripadvisor, described the lack of self service during the pandemic as ‘not enjoyable at all’.
They said: “The carvers throw it all on a plate on top of each other so it looks like a dog’s dinner.”
But low and behold, self serve has returned, once your meat and Yorkshire are safely home on your plate, you can choose your own.
A smiley waiter leads you to a table, takes your drink order and lets you know you may head for the carvery when ready. I sat for a few minutes contemplating what it meant to be ready before realising I just needed to get my dinner.
However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t still confusion over the systems. One couple waited at their table for over 15 minutes wondering if they’d been forgotten before flagging down a waiter and discovering they were meant to serve themselves.
What’s the damage?
If there’s one thing for certain, for a full roast the price is right. At a wonderfully affordable £7.49, it is a good deal and great value for money.
As a Toby Carvery first timer, the meal was sadly disappointing. The staff were polite and relaxed, explaining the process, and serving drinks and the bill quickly.
The atmosphere was warm and friendly, with laughter heard from many tables and tasty gravy smells wafting all throughout the pub.
The queue at the carvery station was non-existent, meaning my food was still piping hot back at the table.
There was ample parking, but the pothole ridden car park could have destroyed a car’s suspension.
But for a pub that sells itself on its roast, I’ve definitely cooked better.