Lud, known also as Lludd map Beli Mawr, was a legendary king of Britain some time ago – in fact, so long ago that it’s unclear if he ever even existed.
It’s sometimes claimed that London is named after him, and more often that part of London called Ludgate has some connection. Supposedly there was once a pub named after him at Ludgate Circus, but no longer. So perhaps now the only real legacy of this British Ozymandius is the other pub bearing his name, situated at Ryde Esplanade.
Although it’s located in a line of eating establishments, for some reason M & C have never really perceived the King Lud as an eaterie – it’s really got more of a drinking town-pub ambience. But it’s normally necessary to walk right past the King Lud to get to Matt and Cat’s firm favourite, the Hong Kong Express. So by sheer repetition, eventually the lure of the cheery chalkboard outside was too much, and your reviewers decided to give the King Lud a chance to show what it could do.
It was early evening – when only a few drinkers supped at the bar and the usual dismal flock of die-hards were sucking gaspers outside. Settling at a clean and smart table decked with fresh flowers, M and C had a look at the menu and were surprised by its breadth. As well as starters, sandwiches and the usual grilled stuff, there was a specials board, and pretty much every pub classic meal you could think of. Liver and bacon – present. Beef and ale casserole – check. Fish and chips – yes, and even local fish as well. Home-made macaroni cheese with brown bread; chicken and chorizo penne – whatever next? Many others too, and all at startlingly low prices: mostly between £5 and £8 for mains, and between £2 and £4 for starters.
Cat took a while to make her choice, finally ending up with home-made spaghetti bolognese. Matt for once eschewed the lure of the grill and decided to put the impressive menu to the test, ordering from the specials tuna steak in lemon and parsley butter, with chips. The friendly barman also served a pint of very well-kept beer – Matt’s old favourite HSB.
Spaghetti bolognese £4.95
Tuna steak £7.50
Before long, the meals emerged from behind the bar. Now, before this gets too messy, let’s say at the start that this was a very good value meal indeed, and it was most definitely a pub grub experience. No frills were expected: none were delivered. Cat’s spag bol came with some generic garlic bread baguette, and certainly was home-made; good VFM but otherwise unremarkable.
Matt’s tuna steak was always going to be more of a challenge, and he couldn’t help the feeling that perhaps he’d have been better off going for something more traditional. Whilst the chips were as good as frozen pre-cut chips ever get, and the salad was acceptably diverse, and entirely fresh; the steak itself was not a proud specimen. It might have come from a tin, or it might actually have been fresh – but if so any sign of that freshness had been entirely cooked out of it. Even the commendable addition of two lemon wedges wasn’t really enough to make this steak special. Tuna steak should be the texture of rare rump steak, not peeled fish fingers. Still, it was edible and Matt ate it.
Matt and Cat won’t complain about the King Lud. It’s a pub, serving pub food. Whilst it is undoubtedly a drinking joint later in the evening, the Lud is making real efforts to create an enjoyable eating experience, not without success. The menu is probably a bit overambitious, and probably diners would be best advised to avoid the more exotic items. But strongly in the King Lud’s favour are two things: it’s in a prime location in Ryde, and the food is remarkably cheap. If you want value pub grub then you won’t go far wrong here.
See the King Lud’s blog post about this review.