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nikkib

Pubs - the topic

128 posts in this topic

Talking of eccentric you've reminded me of another one- the THREE STAGS HEAD, DARLEY BRIDGE (copy and paste) in the peak district back through Stockport somewhere.

Had sunday lunch there last year a really good game pie, abbeydale brewery beers and a lurcher sat next to me. No ice no draught lager - not sure if there was any electricity but there was a petrified cat. Kids loved it.


Edited by codheadred (log)

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David, I used to be a big fan of B&P mini-chain but I have seen quality slip in the past couple of years. Only two weeks ago we visited the Alford place and had three very overcooked ducks and a bone dry piece of pork. A visit to the Pant Yr Ochain last year has similar results with tough, chewy, overcooked steaks. Not happy, not at the prices they charge. Harkers is ok, far too busy for anything other than bar food though. The chain sold out to a huge pub co last year so it looks like the rot may be setting in unfortunately.

Now if you want simply cooked but great tasting food at a pub near Chester, head to Stuarts Table at the Farmer's Arms in Huxley for one of the best Sunday dinners around! Stuart himself is a bit eccentric but the guy in the kitchen knows what he's doing.

Hi, Mrs Woman,

Thats a real shame.

The front of house at the Dysart are the same as always, obviously I don't know about the kitchen.

The last time we went to The Aldford it was really busy and I must admit I did'n't notice any drop in quality.

That said, if the quality drops noticeably,customers will no doubt vote with their feet.

I for one hope that the owners sort this lapse out.

Thanks for the heads up on Stuarts Table.We will give it a whirl.

Happy Dining!

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David, I used to be a big fan of B&P mini-chain but I have seen quality slip in the past couple of years. Only two weeks ago we visited the Alford place and had three very overcooked ducks and a bone dry piece of pork. A visit to the Pant Yr Ochain last year has similar results with tough, chewy, overcooked steaks. Not happy, not at the prices they charge. Harkers is ok, far too busy for anything other than bar food though. The chain sold out to a huge pub co last year so it looks like the rot may be setting in unfortunately.

Now if you want simply cooked but great tasting food at a pub near Chester, head to Stuarts Table at the Farmer's Arms in Huxley for one of the best Sunday dinners around! Stuart himself is a bit eccentric but the guy in the kitchen knows what he's doing.

Mrs Woman,

The other Mrs Woman has just reminded me of our slight disappointment at our last meal at Pant-yr-Ochain

It was below par

Must be about ten months ago though,so thats not recent.

I may offer my services to them as a mystery shopper!!

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Another one just off the M40 (junction 12).

Malt Shovel @ Gaydon. Proper village pub - folk in just having a pint. But also some good pub food. Nothing fancy.

Locally made Brixworth pate. Thick granary toast, chutney and some leaves.

Steak & kidney pie. Proper pie, mind you. Good shortcrust pastry, portion cut from a real pie. Nice flavour but I prefer my meat a bit chunkier. Boiled spuds and some veg.

Not the finest pub lunch you'll ever find, but not bad. And a damn sight better than M40 Warwick Services.


John Hartley

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The Chequers, Weston on the Green, Bicester, Oxfordshire.

Another “find” from www.5minutesaway.co.uk. This time just off Junction 9, M40.

A nice country pub with thatched roof, wooden beams and rickety furniture. And a menu that, on first glance, didn’t look too promising. Just bog standard pub grub. But a “specials” board almost exclusively consisting of fish & shellfish dishes made me think this might be interesting.

Then I spotted the little poster which boasted of the quality of meat they used. They sourced it all from “Dave the butcher” in the next village. Dave always tried to source local meat and, in fact, all of the beef came from a single farm, two miles away. Dave then hung it for 28 days.

I was immediately tempted by the sight of this 28 day beef being carried past in the form of an enormous burger. It looked “the business” and I nearly ordered one but, in the end, went for the home made steak & kidney pudding.

Good suet pudding and the excellent flavour of the beef brought out by long cooking. It came with mash – not pomme puree. This was just potatoes, er, mashed. A separate bowl of carrot and cauli. This was just a great lunch, even if the extra gravy had a somewhat industrial quality to it. I just needed a long nap or a brisk walk to work it off.


John Hartley

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RED LION, CRICK, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Yet another from fiveminutesaway.com. Just off Junction 18, M1.

A traditional village pub right down to the thatched roof. They're making a bit of an effort with a traditional pub lunchtime menu. Plenty of folk in just having a pint or three, but plenty also eating.

Mrs H wasnt very hungry and just wanted a sandwich. And a few chips of course. Corned beef sandwich was a corned beef sandwich but English and French mustard together with horseradish was brought without asking. Decent chips.

I had a portion of chicken, leek and ham pie, which had a sufficiently reasonable shortcrust pastry to make me think it had probably been made on the premises. With it, some carrots, cabbage and new potatoes. Unfortunately, the dish was marred by a canteen-like gravy poured over everything.

Not my greatest pub "find" whilst out and about, but a damn sight better than anything Watford Gap services would have had to offer.


John Hartley

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anyone know of anything near chichester?


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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THE BOOT INN, WILLINGTON, Nr KELSALL, CHESHIRE

Nothing remotely gastro about this country pub - but it's my default lunch spot when I'm out that way towards Chester. The main menu is a collection of the "usual suspects" for decent pub food - Barnsley chop, fish pie, good sandwiches and the like. The "specials" board normally has some treats, as today - a starter of local asparagus with poached egg. Asparagus was freshness itself and cooked leaving a bit of bite. Unfortunately, egg was overdone leaving it pretty much useless for dunking.

Main was a steak & ale pie. Long cooking and very generous portion of meat; the beer coming from Weetwood Brewery, just down the road in Tarporley. Chips were decentish - frozen, of course, but fried to a nice crispy brown.


John Hartley

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WHEATSHEAF, RABY, WIRRAL

My thanks to MaLO and Pearclove for mentioning this place on another thread as a possible lunch spot.

Village pub - thatched roof and old beams, coupled with modern furniture and a decent array of real ales. Lot's of seating and I'd reckon this is an eating, not drinking, sort of place. Definitely not "gastro", the lunch menu are pub classics. Steak pie; ham/free range egg/chips; salads; sandwiches - that sort of thing. And, based on the look of passing plates, done very well.

There's short specials board which had some interesting stuff. For example, a rarebit made from a very tangy cheese and one of the guest beers, a bitter called Rhode Island Red (brewed on Wirral). Mrs H had this as her main, after a well dressed salad with shreds of good quality ham mixed through. She also had a pint of the bitter and declared it a good un. Greedy bugger that I am, I had the rarebit as a starter, followed by a lemon and thyme grilled chicken baguette (which was underwhelming). "Fat chips" were not good - but they never are , are they?.

Worth it just for the rarebit!


John Hartley

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THE BOOT INN, WILLINGTON, Nr KELSALL, CHESHIRE

Nothing remotely gastro about this country pub - but it's my default lunch spot when I'm out that way towards Chester. The main menu is a collection of the "usual suspects" for decent pub food - Barnsley chop, fish pie, good sandwiches and the like. The "specials" board normally has some treats, as today - a starter of local asparagus with poached egg. Asparagus was freshness itself and cooked leaving a bit of bite. Unfortunately, egg was overdone leaving it pretty much useless for dunking.

Main was a steak & ale pie. Long cooking and very generous portion of meat; the beer coming from Weetwood Brewery, just down the road in Tarporley. Chips were decentish - frozen, of course, but fried to a nice crispy brown.

Happened upon this place whilst up North recently and thought the name sounded familiar - a great little country pub all round. The menu is large and comprises everything from the "speciality" ploughmans ( we had a cheese one with 5 local cheeses on it £8.25, a huge portion at that - delicious) and sandwiches etc to light bites "Duo of black and white pudding, mustard potatoes, bacon and slow roasted onions" £6.95 or "Pan fried lambs kidneys, cracked black pepper, red wine and toasted crouton" £6.70 to traditional pub mains - "Beer Battered Fish and Chips, mushy peas" £11.50 and "Steak and Ale Pie" £9.95. Specials were a bit more imaginative - "Crab salad with lime and coriander (forget the price but around the £8 i think.) A couple of good bitters/lagers on draught and 4 white/red wines by the glass means i am sure this would be a nice enough drinking pub too. Nice Beer garden out the back, clean and prompt, friendly service - definitely wotrth a visit if you are in the area.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Oh, I'm glad to hear the ploughman's is back on offer. It's been missing for over 12 months.

Whilst keeping it local, they used to vary the offerings now & again. Best bet was always when they had the selection of Bourne's Cheshire.


John Hartley

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Also another great find although definitely more gastro than pub (cannot imagine anyone pops in just for a drink) was the Plough and Flail in Mobberley 01565 873537 . A dozen starters/mains and a handful of puds with a good looking specials board menat we had a very enjoyable meal there. The table size (10 of us) didn't cause them any hassle and the staff were friendly and knew their dishes well, something that can be sadly lacking in places like this. Only 4 white/red by the galss though which when the pub is this foody is a shame i think - they were pretty bog standard pub wines but decently enough priced i suppose. I started with Fresh Roasted Figs, Delamere Goats Cheese and Orange and Cardomom dressing which was very good indeed although perhaps a bit on the stingy side for £6.95. other starters for our group included a delicious fish platter (for 2 to share) at £13.95 which incuded crab, potted shrimp, crayfish, smoked salmon, prawn cocktail, smoked mackerel and king prawns and a decent crayfish, smoked chicken and avocado salad @ £6.95. For mains i had the special starter of Crab with Chilli, lime and coriander at around £7.50 which was very good indeed and the others went mostly for either one of the delicious looking pies - Steak/onion with garden peas and chips £11.95 Fish Pie of smoked haddock salmon and prawns £12.95, Alan Jackson's (no me neither) Pork and leek sausages and mash £9.95 or the special of Roast monkfish, patatas bravas with chorizo and some greenery at around £15 i think. Portion sizes (my starter excluded) were generous to a fault, as were the puddings which included some very good (homemade?) ice creams nand the usual suspects like Creme brulee and steamed chocolate pudding. Our bill came to around £250 for pre dinner drinks, 2 bottles of wine, 1/2 the table on 2 courses 1/2 on 3, coffees and about 12 pints of local bitter which i thought was pretty good indeed. Apparently they do a graet sunday lunch too which i would maybe head back for after a good long walk.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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The Talbot at Knightwick in Herefordshire i believe but dont take my word on that one.

brew their own beers behind the pub with hops from behind the brewery! Have pigs and chickens which they use for meat and eggs (respectively!!)

The mother and daughter who own it take local produce to a different level, i met a chef there one and he says hardly anything comes from further a field then Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The décor is very much old english pub, something getting rarer and rarer as the pubs who once served good beer now claim to serve good food in their snazzy new pub restaurant. hops hang from ceilings, muddy boots that have some story about a local beater are nailed to the beams, the chairs and bar stools made by the owners nephew who is a blacksmith.

The kitchen garden grows an array of ingredients used in the kitchen widely im told.

I very much enjoyed what i stumbled across on my walk! never knw such a place existed round those parts.

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Alan Jackson's (no me neither) Pork and leek sausages

Good quality (but bleeding' expensive) butcher in nearby Alderley Edge.

It is a "thing" for local places to mention they use his meat.


John Hartley

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SHEPHERD'S CROOK, CROWELL, OXFORDSHIRE

Yet another of my motorway finds from www.5minutesaway.com. This one off Junction 6 of the M40. A village pub, half of which is set out for drinking , the other half for eating.

There was a short menu of the usual suspects by way of sandwiches and I was tempted by the "fish & chips butty" with tartare sauce. Amongst the light meals (mercifully not "lite bites"), was ham, egg & chips of which I'd seen mention in an online review as being a fine example. But, as often, it was the handful of items on the specials board that had the interest.

Smoked haddock with a blue cheese rarebit topping, some dressed salad and a few new potatoes. The topping could have overpowered by the smokiness of the fish stood up to it well and it really was a mouthfull packed with flavour. There appeared to be a good range of beers and the landlord carefully explained to another customer what each was like. A note of caution, however, in rip-off soft drink prices. My pint of line and soda cost £3. Yes, three bleeding quid!

The pub is a couple of miles from the motorway towards Princes Risborough.

There's also a pretty decent place if you turn the other way from the junction. Look out for the sign to Lewknor, only a few hundred yards down the road. The Leathern Bottle is another village pub, doing a reasonable array of pub classics, together with quite a good looking specials board. I only had a sandwich on a previous trip - but it was a nicely cooked chicken breast, with some salad and mayo on a crisp baguette.


John Hartley

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I had a very good meal at The Carpenters Arms 89-91 Black Lion Lane, London - 020 8741 8386 a couple of weekends ago. Theres a pretty decently priced winelist and they offer wines in carafes as well as bottles which i alsways enjoy. I started with a good Potted Crab, others went for oysters, labneh and flat bread and a really delicious snail, white bean and merguez stew topped with afried egg and baked.I would have liked the egg yolk a little runnier but thats a minor complaint for what was a great dish. Mains were a huge wild boar steak with walnuts, black cherries and broad beans, a good rib eye steak and i had plaice with samphire and brown shrimps. All were a success, the wild boar i thought was particularly good and all the ingredients looked so vibrant - they obviously source their ingredients well. Portions were very generous, i would have been happy with 1/2 the plaice and i don't have a small appetite. We didn't have dessert as we were too full but i didn't think any of them looked particularly attention grabbing (and i can't remember what any of them even were which kind of proves it i suppose) Service was friendly and food was pretty well timed too. I would definitely head back if i was in the area as it was a pretty fairly priced (starters £7/£8 ish mains £15-£17) for the standard of cooking and ingredients and i had a very enjoyable afternoon there. Anglesea Arms is next on my list of West London Gastros.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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The Ostrich at castle Acre in Norfolk http://www.ostrichcastleacre.com/

A very nice lunch here yesterday. Castle acre is a pretty little town not far from Kings Lynn. I started with whitebait, crisply fried and served with tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon and then followed this up with fish cakes - two large fishcakes made from white crab meat, salmon and smoked haddock with a cucumber, radish and cornichon salad. My father had a delicious tart of tomato, feta and caramelised onion to start as well as the fishcakes and my Mother chose a crab sandwich, white and brown meat in a large granary bap with cucmber salad which unsurprisingy for this part of the world was beautiful and fresh. The two course meals were £10.95 (£13.95 if we had added treacle tart) and the sandwich was£7.95. They had a decent wine list and a couple of local beers on draught as well as the usual suspects. Worth popping in for good home cooked pub grub if you are in the area.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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GLASFRYN, RAIKES LANE, MOLD

Situated on the fringe of Mold’s industrial estate, this place doesn’t look too great but as you drive into the car park, you see there are some great views, and on a warmer day, it’d be nice to sit outside on the extensive terrace or lawn. I'd come here because it’s a Brunning & Price place and I should get a decent lunch. Most folk who have come are, judging by the number of ID badges being worn, local workers on their lunch break.

I started with corned beef hash, poached egg and brown sauce. When it came, it looked a good plate – brown sauce drizzled cheffily across the plate, a tennis ball sized lump of hash, crumbed and fried to crisp, a bit of lettuce and topped with the egg. But it came far, far too quickly for it have done anything but sit around somewhere for a long time waiting for someone to order it. More unfortunately, it had sat somewhere not hot, so when I cut into it was just lukewarm. And it was just so bland – not just underseasoned but the meat underflavoured. The brown sauce was the only thing perking it up.

Better, much better, was the main course. Braised shoulder of lamb (or, seeing as I was in Wales, should that be llamb) – hefty portion, flavoursome, tender. A good ratatouille – nice rounded flavours, not cooked to a mush, the courgette particularly holding some texture. Pesto mash.


John Hartley

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HAND & TRUMPET, WRINEHILL, NR. CREWE

Perhaps I'm getting pickier as I get nearer the free bus pass. Or perhaps the food at Brunning & Price place ain't what it ought to be. But this is now two very indifferent starters I've had in recent weeks.

A ham hock, apricot and pistachio terrine tasted of none of these things and I couldnt detect any sign of apricot or pistachio. This was just a solid lump of bland meat encased in proscuitto. The accompanying piccalli did nothing to lift it - no kick from vinegar or mustard, this was just a spoonful of yellow vegetables.

The main course burger was a much better event. In fact, pretty much everything you want from a burger - a good sized piece of quite tasty meat,topped with lettuce, tomato, pickle (Mrs Elwoods?), bacon and cheese. Cracking good coleslaw on the side. And what would have been star chips if they been fried for just a tad longer - but still, pretty good proper chip-sized chips.


John Hartley

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Try the Star & Dove in Bristol http://www.thestaranddove.co.uk/. Used to be owned by a lad who was head chef at Fifteen in Shoreditch but he closed at the start of the year. Smallish menu that sings the praises top quality local produce. The food is very much being aimed at the guide book masses with a great deal of attention being paid to presentation. The food is very, very good. In places interesting, sometimes a little funny but overall of a very high standard. For my money the best place to eat in Bristol at the moment.

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Hi there.

I've no real wish to be picky on your first post but, just for clarification, you mention the previous owner of this pub. How does this affect the current ownership and food style?

You also mention the food is aimed at the "guide book masses", a phrase I don't read as a compliment, particularly as you suggest those of us who use guide books might be more interested in presentation than, possibly, taste. It'd be helpful if you could clarify what you're trying to say about the place. What have you eaten recently that was particularly good?

J


John Hartley

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When the Star & Dove was opened by the previous owners the local P.R machine went into overdrive telling anybody who would listen that the chef was Jamie Oliver's protégé, how he had been responsible for the opening of Fifteen, and not allot was done to dispel the rumours that Jamie Oliver owned some, if not all of the business interests. Hell, they even ran a tasting menu called "my favourite bits of fifteen".

Although there may have been a strong background, and the place opened to rave reviews, cracks soon started to appear and the Bristol public of whom I was one, voted with their feet and the place was closed inside a few years.

The reason I mentioned the previous regime is to say well done to the new one, who without fanfare have quietly got on with producing some food of serious note.

Saying that the food is aimed at the guide book masses, to me is a massive compliment. Not only does it show the ambition of a top draw public house but aspirations above and beyond as a destinational dining room.

On my last visit we ate smooth and rich chicken & duck liver parfait, sweet & sour beetroot with vanilla salt, chestnut chowder, pickled wild mushrooms & the most delicate chestnut bread.

Mains were hare, game & haricot bean stew, black bream with cockle beer broth and belly pork with individual whisky, smoked apple & black pudding pie.

Despite the obvious care and attention to aesthetics, nothing was sacrificed in taste and each dish punched way above its weight especially as nothing cost any more than thirteen quid.

Desserts showed a deft pastry touch with an impossibly thin base to a white chocolate & coconut tart served with sour milk sorbet. A little old school charm with steamed roly poly pudding & caramelised vanilla plums and a text book duck egg custard tart with more wobble than the millennium bridge.

I’m glad you questioned my first post J, as it allowed me more depth to clarify just how good I believe this place to be. I have a table again for next Tuesday so I’ll take a camera and post some pictures.

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Excellent. Always impressed with seeing hare being served. Thanks.


John Hartley

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SWETTENHAM ARMS, CHESHIRE

Somewhere in my head, a place crosses a line from being a pub that does good food and becomes a gastropub. I’m not sure where that line is or what makes the leap, but the Swettenham Arms remains firmly in the former camp, despite a brief “also recommended” in the GFG (2008 edition ?).

Roast beef was local, well hung and well flavoured and generously portioned. It came with a Yorkshire that was better than Aunt Bessie’s but not much more so. And roast and boiled spuds and some nice veggies. Also in the serving dish were some unnecessary chips – the menu states “our chips are never frozen” but the taste suggests the menu tells porkies. A proper gravy as well. I enjoyed this.

Herself had hotpot – an item from the “light meals” section but this was anything but a small girlie dish. Excellently flavoured, although the meat could have done with a little longer cooking to be perfect. The stars here were the non-traditional rosemary dumplings.

Out there in deepest rural Cheshire there is little competition and, with a couple of drinks, there was also little change from thirty quid.


John Hartley

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The Masons Arms in Branscombe was always my favorite. Good beer, local cider, straightforward pub food and on Sundays they used to do a big roast on a spit in the fireplace. Not sure if it's gone all gastro as I haven't been in a few years. Hope not.


Abigail Blake

Sugar Apple: Posts from the Caribbean

http://www.abigailblake.com/sugarapple

"Sometimes spaghetti likes to be alone." Big Night

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