Toby Carvery, Barnes, Sunderland

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ADMITTEDLY, carveries are not my usual choice of meal.

Granted, they are a cheap-as-chips option for tea, but queuing for my food plate-in-hand gives me shudder-inducing flashbacks to my school canteen.

However, with two whippersnappers in tow – my niece Amy and friend Cara’s son Tate – we were looking for somewhere that would suit pre-panto dining.

Close to both our houses and family-friendly, The Barnes fitted the bill.

Our visit didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. Firstly, the pub has installed pay and display parking machines in its car park.

You get your £1 fee back once you show your ticket to the staff inside, but we inevitably forget to do this and ended up paying for the pleasure of pub parking.

We decided to sit in the bar area and asked to see the bar menu which differs slightly from the carvery menu. The barman pointed to a menu pinned to the wall behind the bar.

As I stood on tip-toes and leaned over the bar in an attempt to read said menu, a more experienced member of staff swooped to the rescue with hand-held copies.

We all decided to go with the beef carvery sandwiches.

There’s a choice of roast meats from which to choose as well as salmon, which takes around 15 minutes to prepare.

Though the pub was busy with diners eager to take up the offer of a roast dinner carvery for £5.99 (except Sundays when the price rises to £9.49), there wasn’t much of a queue.

I was a bit flummoxed when the server behind the vast tray of meat and veg gave us sliced bread for our sandwiches as I was expecting a doughy bun.

I can’t complain about the food itself, however. It was scrumptious. The meat was perfectly tender and the veg was perfectly flavoursome.

The gravy, in particular, stole the show.

It was proper gravy – like your mum makes – and we asked for an extra gravy boat so we could smother our food in its delicious goodness some more.

If we’d had more time, I’m sure we would have gone back for more of the unlimited veg including roasties and mash, but the panto was calling.

Oh, yes it was! (Sorry)

Katy Wheeler

Twitter: @sunechokaty