Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To-by or not To-by, a carvery in Crawley

Toby Carvery
Langley Green
Vancouver Drive
RH11 7UR
01293 515 558

A lazy Sunday in Crawley with kite flying planned for the afternoon, what better than a traditional roast dinner to make the day complete. Toby Carveries are very popular in the UK and it is often necessary to wait for a table, particularly on a Sunday when it is heaving with families, hungover twenty-somethings and old folk. All are drawn to a Toby for its magic combination of your choice of roast (usually beef, gammon and turkey), yorkshire pudding, stuffing, all the vegetables you can eat, plus gravy and sauces. Many a time have we wearily entered the hallowed ground desperate for a pint of Coke and a Toby, happy to wait for half an hour for the privilege.

As we did just that for I eyed the quiz machine in the corner only to be given the 'look' by the Veggie. Fair enough, as I cannot be trusted on those machines and can easily spend a fiver if given the chance to be a 'millionaire' or play 'hangman'. The place was full of the usual Toby crowd, all eager to join the queue for dinner.

Eventually myself, the Blonde and the Veggie were shown to a good table by the window. We quickly ordered more drinks and then bags on shoulders marched off to the carvery. On offer was roast beef, gammon and turkey as per usual. I plumped for just the beef, the Blonde went for beef and gammon and the Veggie asked for 2 yorkshires and stuffing instead of the whatever lay under the suspicious puff pastry covering the 'veggie option'. The beef didn't look like the best I'd ever had at a Toby but it would do. I was given a huge yorkshire, which was fine by me, and then tried to show some restraint as I moved onto the veg selection. The Veggie bemoaned the lack of parsnips but that didn't really bother me. I added some cabbage, a couple of broccoli florets, a few carrots, some cauliflower cheese, peas and quite a few of the small roast potatoes. A ladle of gravy and some horseradish and mustard and that was me done.

Whilst the yorkshire was perfect, crisp on the outside and chewy inside, the cauliflower cheese suffered from a distinct lack of cheese. Also I found the meat a bit stringy in places but it was generally more tender than it looked. My fellow diners didn't seem to have any complaints.

I was the only one who felt able to tackle a pudding. The Veggie had already discreetly moved some of her unfinished dinner onto my plate, so it didn't look 'so bad'. She never seems to learn that her stomach doesn't have as much room as she thinks!

Anyway, I managed to persuade them to share a rhubarb and apple crumble with me. This is one of Toby's desserts that comes with a 'bottomless' jug of custard. That scares me slightly for some reason.

You can't beat a good crumble but I was glad there were three spoons attacking it rather than one. It came in quite a large round bowl, which although didn't seem to have much depth contained a surprisingly large portion. Having said that I didn't see how anyone could finish a whole jug of custard, we did! I should add that the jug is baby-sized not pimms sized! We didn't ask for more, so I do feel some sense of restraint was shown.

The total bill including drinks and a dessert came to 31.30p, which isn't bad for a decent and filling roast dinner for three.

Scores on the doors: 7 out of 10

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