Tuesday 2 April 2019

Review: Toby Carvery, Not Just for Sundays!

Everyone in my family is a big fan of Toby Carvery. I visited my first one with my husband when we were just 21 years old, so that's 24 years ago and we've been going regularly ever since. We love their format and truly think they are the best carvery chain out there. You get served the meat but the potatoes, yorkshire puds, vegetables, stuffing, crackling, gravy and condiments are all help yourself and that makes them perfect for a family who have a big apetitite and love their veg!

Our local Toby Carvery is in Eastbourne and we probably go there at least once a month. A short while back it was refurbished and today was our third visit since it has re-opened. I have to say that I feel as if they have really upped their game along with the new decor. We've always had pleasant staff serving us there but it's as if they all have an extra smile and are enjoying their job more since the place has had a makeover, and their sunny personalities are matching the new smart interior.

As well as the hearty meal, another reason we regularly visit Toby Carvery is because you can often get great discount vouchers to be used on weekdays. Take today for instance, I'm using a 50% off main courses voucher and often I can find 33% or 40% off. Sign up to the Toby Carvery mailing list (or download the app) and you'll be sent great deals.

My dinner (the meat is hiding under the veggies) and bottomless soft drink

Sunday is of course the most popular day for people to traditionally enjoy a roast dinner and for this reason we always avoid Sundays, as we like the restaurant to be a bit quieter when we go there. My recommendation would be to go early evening on a weekday, around 5.30/6pm or late afternoon on a Saturday, around 3/4pm as you'll then find the restaurant quieter but thankfully, we never have any problem with dry meat or old vegetables like you might in some restaurants for the non-peak times.

I have to be honest, if you want a meaty dinner but don't like a roast then I'd say don't bother to come here, the roast is the main focus on this menu. We took my parents-in-law a few weeks ago to their local one in Stevenage and my father-in-law was hoping for a mixed grill (I'm not sure why) and of course there isn't anything like that on the menu. The carvery roast is the main meat focused offering, it is £7.49 for an adult meal and you can upgrade to a king size for an extra £1.99 and get another yorkshire, more meat and 2 chipolata sausages.

There is also a salmon option, a number of different salads and a selection of seven vegetarian/ vegan options, priced from £5.99. So those slimming and wanting something veggie are well catered for.

Closest is my husbands XL carvery and to the top is my daughters regular adult carvery meal

The Carvery Food

Monday - Saturday you have a choice of beef, gammon ham, pork or turkey and all the meats have been slow cooked to keep them succulent. Then on Sunday there is also lamb but I've never tried that as we don't go on a Sunday, but I know my Mum loves it. There is normally a good variety of potato options too, with classic roasties, beef dripping roasties (my favourite), mash and dauphinois white and sweet potato.

Then of course you help yourself to vegetables and the variety changes from visit to visit. There is always carrots and peas, which pleases the kids and cauliflower cheese, which pleases me. Then at other times we've had red or green cabbage, broccoli, green beans and onions in gravy. We have noticed recently there has also been macaroni cheese on the hot plate, which I thought was an odd addition but my twin girls love it and thinking about it, when I had a toddler it would have been perfect for them.

The yorkshire puddings are another favourite of mine and they are normally large and well cooked, still being fluffy inside. You get served one with your meat but can go back for another once you've finished if you like. There is also always stuffing and crackling that you can help yourself to as well.

All the condiments you need are on the side, homemade beef or vegetarian gravy, cranberry, mint, apple, bread and horseradish sauces. As well as English and Wholegrain mustard's too.

We don't always have a pudding when we visit as we find that we are fully filled up from our carvery main course, but today in the interest of research for this post, we pushed the boat out! I was surprised that there is really quite a large selection of puddings, and I suspect there is something to suit everyone. Including a couple of mini desserts that you can have with a hot drink (£4.19).

JJ chose the warm chocolate fudge cake with ice cream (£4.29) and the rest of us had traditional puddings with custard. My husband and I had spotted dick and the girls had treacle sponge (£4.09 each).

Our Visit Today
Our table was booked for 7.30pm and we arrived about 7.20pm in the pouring rain. We were surprised to take the last car parking space and to find out just how busy the restaurant was, it appears that the whole of Eastbourne knew about the 50% off voucher that was live for today and tomorrow.

We were greeted by the Manager, who was pleasant and asked us to grab a drink at the bar whilst our table was set for us. About five minutes later she showed us to our table and told us Jack would be our waiter. He was fab, the ultimate cheeky chappie, he had a lot of banter and engaged with the kids, whilst genuinely seeming as if he cared and wanted to give people a good service, It would be easy to think he was putting it on as we were there to review the restaurant but actually we could hear him being exactly the same with all the other customers.

As I mentioned, it was extremely busy today with every table taken. We had about 12 people in front of us in the carvery queue and it took us 15 minutes to get to the front and be served. As we were happily chatting away it didn't feel this long though. We don't normally visit during the very busy times and I think the food offering today wasn't as good as normal. The turkey was down to the last little bit, so JJ ended up with the last cuts, which were a bit fatty and my beef was very fatty too today. The gammon ham was excellent and my husband said his beef was good as well.

The lady chef that served us was very nice and we chatted to her as she carved our meat. As you can see from the pictures some of the veggies were getting a bit low but the chefs were coming out to replenish things and there wasn't anything missing, it just didn't look as fresh and pristine as it normally does.

Most of us went for a soft drink refill, which at £3.00 is good value if you want a lot to drink. You can enjoy Pepsi, Pepsi Max, Diet Pepsi, R Whites lemonade or Robinson's squash and you can add shots of flavours to your drinks like cherry, strawberry or vanilla. My kids really love this, but it would be good if Toby did a small one for children, as they only drink about 1/2 a cup. I did ask what price the children's drinks were, as I wouldn't pay the £3.00 for smaller children and they do offer a 50p small Robinson's squash and an assortment of other drinks, such as a fruit shoot at £1.90. My husband had a J2O and this cost £2.80.

We were very happy with our puddings, they were all tasty, a generous size portion and the price is reasonable.

I was chatting to the manager as I settled the bill and she asked how everything was. I said generally good but that my meat wasn't as good as normal. She apologised and I explained I had plenty on the plate and was full and therefore it wasn't necessary for me to complain at the time.

Generally we left the restaurant happy and with full tummies. We will return to the Toby Carvery, Willingdon Drove but will again pick an off-peak time, as we normally do. I had wanted to get some pictures of the new restaurant decor to share with you but it was so busy I couldn't get any, as of course strangers don't really want to be in my pictures! So you'll just have to believe me when I say that it now feels much more spacious, clean and comfortable.

Thanks Team Willingdon Drove, we had a fab evening!

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Disclosure: We received £50 towards the cost of the meal for the five of us. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 
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