The first thing I notice about The Rising Sun Gastro Pub in Poole, is the charming interior – comfy sofas, curtained windows and wooden floors make the place exude a certain comfortable class that takes it out of chain-restaurant territory, and I happily take a seat by the window. I notice that The Rising Sun is split into two parts. One side is a more casual dining area with high wooden tables and an open, friendly atmosphere, largely occupied by business people on their lunch hour or couples having a much needed shopping break. Down the hallway there’s an intimately lit restaurant area, with private booths and the type of elegant subtlety that makes you feel welcome but not too intimidated.
I’m greeted by a knowledgeable waitress, who seemingly knows the dishes off by heart. I order from the October-Feast menu (a special £10 or £15 menu running throughout October) and she informs me that the sausages I order are from Honeybrook Farm. In fact, most of their meats are from Honeybrook Farm, which is based less than 10 miles away in Wimborne. Impressed with the local and seasonal menu, I ponder on what a good Gastro Pub needs to be successful, good service – tick, local and seasonal produce – tick, great prices – tick, and last but by no means least, great food? So as I order the Beef & Ale Sausages, I cross my fingers there’ll be a tick in that box too.
My main arrives on a piping hot plate at my table and I tuck into the chunky sausages tasting the searing hot meat for the first time. Having never eaten beef sausages before, I’m surprised at how tasty they are. They’re not over-powered by herbs and nor is the taste instantly recognisable as beef. The main difference between these and the humble pork banger is the richer, meatier texture and flavour, and I’m not only glad to have tried a twist on the traditional sausage, but could well and truly be a convert too!
The Bubble & Squeak it’s served with, is dotted with specks of green, the spring onions provide a nice fresh taste, but I wonder what is wrong with good old hearty mashed potato, and wish it was served with that instead. The green beans, even for someone like me who has a distinct aversion to anything green on her plate, are a great addition. They are tasty and cooked al dente. The caramelised onions are a nice touch too, adding a depth of sweetness to the dish, and the Thyme Red Wine Sauce is so flavoursome, I wonder if anyone would mind me licking the plate clean!
Having finished my meal and eager to find the slightest bit of room for dessert, I’m drawn toward the Vanilla Baked Cheesecake. It arrives, decorated simply with berries and Blueberry & Damson Jam. Dotted with speckles of vanilla seed, the first mouthful is rich in fresh Vanilla taste, and the texture is dense and creamy. This baked cheesecake makes a mockery of the frozen variety, as its thin biscuit base is topped lovingly with thick, sweet mixture and is married perfectly with the not too tart jam.
I now get to tick the final box as I’ve definitely had good food, and if the The Rising Sun Gastro Pub was an exam paper, I’d scrawl on it a dirty great big A* with my red pen. It seems like I’m not the only one either, as the place has just been commended with 2 AA Rosettes.