Golf is a game that’s taken very seriously. Worldwide, players of all ages and abilities lovingly nurture their God given talent hoping they’ll one day make the perfect round; come in under par… beat their friends.
I’m no different. For me, this Saturday is like so many others that have gone before it: up at the crack of dawn, eager to sneak in a crafty few holes before I begin my weekend routine. I leave the course vaguely satisfied – as anyone who has turned in yet another below par effort ever can be – but heavy with frustration; I could have performed better. If anything I’m keen to go straight back out there. It’s an itch every player feels and usually fails to scratch. Next Saturday, it seems, can never come soon enough.
Happily however this Saturday I’m in luck because tonight I’m going to 3 Hammers Golf Complex on the outskirts of Coven to check out the Bar & Bistro I’ve been hearing so much about. But don’t worry: you don’t need to be golf-mad or even a member of the club in order to eat here – tonight I’m definitely going without golf clubs, with my partner Gisella.
3 Hammers Bar & Bistro is an independent restaurant situated at the heart of the award-winning golf complex. It is now under new management and is led by owner Shaun Timmins – an experienced food industry veteran who for the last few years has worked at Miller & Carter Steakhouse in Penn – and Restaurant Manager Astrid Walker, who’s been working here for five years.
We arrive and are greeted warmly by Astrid who asks us if we’d like drinks first. Of course we take her up on the offer. We sit in the vibrant bar area. I’m pleased to see some proper Real Ale up for grabs (not a guarantee in a lot of restaurants!) and go for a pint of Holden’s Golden Glow: a refreshing golden ale brewed using the finest English malts and choicest hops. The label on the pump reads ‘Black Country Born and Brewed’ – no wonder it appeals to me. Gisella drinks Bacardi and Coke. Not my cup of tea, but each to their own.
A new menu has just been launched at the restaurant and it caters well for everyone – even vegetarians. It’s a very family-friendly and welcoming atmosphere, which can be enjoyed whether you’re a golfer or not. Looking at a lot of tonight’s crowd I’d say that the majority are among the latter. We reach the restaurant and find a superb conservatory and outdoor eating area and breathe in a mouth-watering aroma of freshly cooked traditional food. The place is buzzing with diners: a mixture of large groups, families, and couples all contribute to a pleasant ambience.
I order ‘Chicken and Chorizo Skewers with roasted pepper and smoky tomato dressing’ (£6.45) to start. Gisella goes for ‘Buffalo Chicken Wings glazed in BBQ sauce, served with blue cheese dip’ (£5.95). Neither are large enough to detract from the mains but ample unto themselves. The tomato dressing is sumptuous, lavishing a layer of exceptional flavour to an already spicy dish. Gisella enjoys her choice very much. Both of us remark upon the quality of the poultry – definitely a cut above. It
turns out that 3 Hammers Bar & Bistro sources all of its meat and chicken from a Wolverhampton-based butcher. Ahh, that explains a lot: you just can’t beat buying local.
We both opt for steaks next. I order a ‘12oz rib-eye’ (£16.95) to be cooked ‘medium’ and Gisella plumps for an ‘8oz sirloin’ (£13.95), to be cooked ‘well done.’ Both steaks are tender, flavoursome and cooked to perfection. A fine advert for what can be achieved with solid raw ingredients and a flash of culinary flair from the 3 Hammers’ ace kitchen team. The tried and tested complement of grilled flat mushrooms, tomato, onion rings, salad and upgraded (£1) sweet potato fries sets things off delightfully. We choose a bottle of Malbec to further enhance the occasion.
During our meal both Astrid and waitress Natalie visit to check if everything is going to plan. I resist the temptation to answer with “you’ll find out when I turn in my review” for fear of being labelled a bit silly. The service tonight is entirely excellent, we never feel rushed in between courses or wait too long. We’re too full to have a dessert each but fall victim to Natalie’s recommendation of ‘Lemony Delight’ (£5.45) – a light, refreshing note on which to end.
We resolve to come back very soon – if not for the ever-popular non-carvery Sunday lunch (£9.95), then for the Tom Jones tribute night on 30th March.
For bookings please call 01902 791917. 3 Hammers Bar & Bistro, Old Stafford Road, Coven, near Wolverhampton WV10 7PP. www.3hammers.co.uk