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nikkib

Pubs - the topic

128 posts in this topic

SUTTON HALL, MACCLESFIELD, CHESHIRE

I promise you I'm not a "mystery diner" for Brunning & Price (although am open to offers). It's just that I seem to be near one of their places quite often round lunchtime these days. Sutton Hall has a nice ambiance to it - good outdoor space in the summer, tables inside scattered round the nooks & crannies of this 16th century building (once owned by Lord Lucan); the usual good service and fairly interesting menu.

As to food, one starter brought a generous bowl of thick and tasty pea and ham soup. Nice as it was, the flavour was somewhat indeterminate with nothing distinct by way of pea or ham. This was followed by a burger, with the fairly standard accompaniments of bacon, cheese, coleslaw, pickle, salad and a good sized portion of chips (which may well have been hand cut). Burger was good. Chips not so good, needing cutting into smaller, more chip-sized pieces and frying for a tad longer.

A salad of warm roasted artichokes, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and rocket came topped with a perfectly poached egg. This was bang-on as a starter, full of complementary tastes & texture. I followed this with guinea fowl – confit leg and roast breast. Another bit of spot-on cooking, with very delicious crispy skin to the leg. It came with a fondant potato and some mixed veg – the kale working particularly well. It was on the menu as having a shallot gravy and, whilst there were certainly shallots in the sauce, there was also an odd fruity sweetness that didn’t do much for it.

Drinks and a well earned tip brought the price to £40 which I reckoned was pretty good value.


John Hartley

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Looked at this place a few times John, and its not so very far away from me, so inevitably will give it a try .

I missed your previous post on Glasfryn, another Brunning and Price place, perhaps we may not rush there.

Admit to being a big fan of theirs, the concept is wonderful, I instantly feel at home in one of their places and even though the food can sometimes be a bit of hit and miss, generally its very good for the money.

I keep a copy of their menus and If I'm stuck as to what to eat at home, dig them out,and hey presto, problem solved.

Its a collection of great comfort food.

Strangely enough some friends of ours came over from Spain recently and suggested we went to The Hand and Trumpet,round about the time that you dined there, we thought it was decent grub, nothing to put us off going back at all.

Been to seven of their places,our favorites are The Grosvenor Arms, and The Dysart Arms, which we visit more regularly than the others, however the last meal at the Dysart was a little under par.That is quite unusual as we dine here more than the others with no problem at all.

I asked if the chef was the same and was told a new chef had taken over the kitchen, and that he was from Pant Yr Ochain another one of Brunning and Price, where our meal there was again under par, hmmmm?

Still we all have off days, me more than others :biggrin: so am looking forward to eating their food again soon.

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Should be able to give you a second opinion on the Dysart in a couple of weeks or so, David. I think it's the next of theirs on my "to visit" list. It's all lunches at present - Mrs H isnt yet recovered enough for evening entertainments yet - so we're starting to get through the pubs. Next stop the Wizard at Alderley Edge.


John Hartley

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Been the Wizard, although perhaps up to a year ago, and was mightily impressed. From memory had scallops and some super tasty cod dish, your in for a treat if its the same standard.

Service was a bit lacking from the young Maitre D when I put him to task about the wrong vintage wine being served.

Is it still Michelin rated?

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Yep. Still got a Michelin Bib. I have it mind that it's changed hands in the not too distant past and is now positioning itself as gastropub rather than "footballers wives" restaurant. It's donkeys years since I've been even though it is, literally, just up the road. Prices still seem to fit the Alderley/Prestbury/Wilmslow "Golden Triangle".


John Hartley

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interested and pleased to read that the brunning and price are serving decent food still as they are now part of restaurant group plc, frankie and benny's, chiquitos et al


you don't win friends with salad

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Damm, quote thingy didn't work. I am referring to The Pheasant at Burwardsley in Cheshire below.

We stopped here on the way back from from Ludlow earlier this week. As Harter's writes above, the views are lovely from its perch up on the Peckforton Hills-looking over as far as Wales.

A starter of Pil Pil style prawns was blah, but my special of a lamb hotpot ticked all the boxes, served with some some well spiced red cabbage. The other half's Fish Pie was generous and rich- perfect comfort food but the accompanying broccoli was just on nodding terms with hot water, being virtually raw. Our horror went for Chicken goujons and I rather liked the fact that they had taken the time to use Reg Johnson's cornfed chicken and then coated it in beer batter.

A perfectly pleasant stop off for us, but not a destination spot. Website


Edited by Bapi (log)

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Queen's Head, Troutbeck

Situated in the middle of a rather vast valley and approachable via a medium length walk from Orrest Head, Windermere it stands relatively isolated and in perfect location. It has all the feel and charm a lakeland pub should have; a warm fire by the entrance; fell walkers with their dogs by the bar, low, wooden beams add character and there's plenty tables for those who choose to eat.

Food is very good and the menu seems to change each time I visit (every few months). I started with Homemade Crumpet, warm Goats Cheese, onion marmalade and dressed rocket. Don't know why, I can never resist goats cheese; the warmth of the melting cheese and the sweetness of the marmalade is my favourite combination. Partner had homemade Black Pudding, poached hen’s egg, crispy streaky bacon and a seed mustard vinaigrette. I had this, myself at the Punchbowl (Pub of the Year) a while back, but the Queen's version was far superior.

Roast belly of pork with creamed potatoes, garden pea puree, crispy pancetta and wholegrain mustard sauce did everything it was meant to and partners' Confit Duck Leg, rosti potato, spiced red cabbage, and a plum and Armagnac sauce looked (and smelt) delicious.

It's my new favourite pub.

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Very late reply to your post about pubs near Chichester Nikkib, but have you tried the Earl of March in Levant? It is run by the ex executive chef of the Ritz Hotel and by all accounts the food is pretty good. I've not had a full meal there but had one course in the bar and it was excellent. (pigeon breast salad). I tasted my companion's venison casserole and that was pretty good as well. They specialise in seafood and game (according to season). We called by en route home after a sailing trip from Chichester so it is pretty handy as on the main route to Midhurst. I think the owners have got another pub up the road as well now.

Would be interested to hear anyone else's reports on anything else good in the area.


Edited by Mrs Foodie (log)

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LEOPARD, BISHOPS TACHBROOK, WARWICKSHIRE

Another trip "down south". Another pub lunch find through fiveminutesaway.com.

A heavily modernised pub, owned by a small chain, just a few minutes from the M40, Junction 13. There’s a stylish bar area with sofas, where you can eat casually or, as I did, in the more formal dining room. Perhaps I made a mistake there as it was almost as bitterly cold in the room as it was outside.

There’s snacky things to eat, like the almost ubiquitous fish finger sandwich or a “posh hotdog”, involving pork sausages and a ciabatta roll. But there’s a reasonably full menu as well.

I started with haddock goujons. Good fish and lovely crisp batter. Homemade tartare sauce was OK but nothing to write home about.

The main of chicken breast in a garlic cream sauce was pretty much as you’d expect. A perfectly fine, unchallenging pleasant plate of food. It was just what you want when you breaking up a long car journey and won’t have time to walk off the effects of lunch. It came with sauté potatoes, leeks, broccoli and mangetout.


John Hartley

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The Red Lion, Stathern, Leicestershire (I think!)

I have been meaning to eat here for a while, as it is the sister/brother pub to the Olive Branch in Clipsham, which I love.

It is a gorgeous old pub, and it has a rpoper bar where people not wanting to eat can sit and have a drink. They do good beers too.

The dining room is lovely and so are the staff - the two we spoke to when ordering at the bar really seemed to know the menu and what each dish was like. The food was a bit mixed though - which is a shame, as I really wanted to love it.

My starter of ballotine of fois gras and sauternes jelly was amazing - the jelly was fantastic, and saved me having to order a glass of sauternes ... the other starters were not so perfect - cold meat platter, with "cold" being the operative word; lobster spring rolls - a bit strange - I think I would have preferred a proper chinese tasting spring roll and I have got very bored with the ubiquity of the sweet chilli dip; and the squid would have been great if it hadn't been for the strange accompanying dip - the menu advertised a sweet chilli dip (again), but what came was something that looked like mayonaise, but tasted of absolutely nothing. My friend is someone who doesn't like to Make A Fuss (in that very British way), but when he had nearly finished it he asked what the dip was. The reply was "garlic butter"... Well - apart from the fact that it didn't taste of butter, let alone garlic, why was this served with battered squid? Bizarre. And this was the only time when the waiting staff didn't seem to know what they were talking about. We even told her that it was supposed to be a chilli dip, but she didn't respond...

Main courses were also mixed. My rib eye steak wasn't great - it was nearer blue than rare, which I don't like, and didn't have much flavour. The fish and chips ordered by two of us was pretty damn good though - perfectly cooked and nice home made tartare sauce, mushy peas and brown sauce. The chips weren't bad either (thank the lord they weren't chunky chips - I hate them). The Beef Wellington was very good too.

It was a bit pricier than I had expected - 30 quid a head for two courses each, two beers and a bottle of wine between four people, not including tip. It had some great highlights, but needs to work much harder if it is to be as good as the Olive Branch.

Sorry if this is a bit long ...!

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PEN-Y-BRYN, COLWYN BAY

As you'll have seen upthread, I'm normally a fan of the Brunning & Price places but here's one to miss, based on today's lunch.

Usual B & P set-up - lots of tables big enough for a large group, decent looking menu, good service and so on. But then it was downhill.

Fishcake starter had barely any fish. Potted rabbit & belly pork with pickle and toast read very well - and it could have tasted quite nice - except for the usual B & P practice of serving most starters fridge cold.

Mince meat pie looked nice and had some decent taste but everything was swimming in "canteen gravy". So the perhaps once crisp chips werent. My main - braised lamb shoulder - sat on a slop of tasteless root veg. The gravy was again unpleasantly out in force. Best thing on the plate was some dauphinoise potato which had managed to avoid being drowned.

Poor do this - I've eaten worse food in the factory canteen when I was working but I've also eaten better.


John Hartley

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BLUEBELL, HENLEY-IN-ARDEN

I suppose deciding if the Bluebell is a gastropub or just a pub that does good food depends on your definition of gastropub. Certainly most folk this lunchtime were eating, rather than just drinking, and they are certainly geared up for that with a good looking shortish menu.

Braised pork belly was pretty much what you’d expect. Of course, you don’t get crackling when it’s cooked like this, but you do get a very delicious skin that’s crisped a little making it a rather nice chew. But so you don’t miss out, you also get a separately cooked piece of very crisp crackling. The meat sat on colcannon mash (of course it did – mash is taking over the world). It was topped with a fried apple slice and surrounded by a decent gravy. Honey roast carrots & parsnips were an extra.

I’m not big on desserts but affogato sounded like a lightish finish to the meal. The vanilla icecream was advertised as homemade – in which case, I suggest they stop and just get in a tub of Wall’s which would be an improvement. It was served as a blob of the icecream with a separate shot glass of the espresso. Coffee was strong without being bitter.Could have been a good dessert - but wasn't.

Service had been good. Perhaps too good. I went to the toilet after I’d eaten, intending to come back and finish my drink and the reading of the newspaper. Came back to find my table cleared as they thought I’d gone. "Weren't you fussed I'd done a runner?". "Nah,happens all the time since the smoking ban with folk going out the back".

So, a fair lunch. But worth the Good Food Guide’s cooking score 4? Nah, not even close.


John Hartley

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The Fat Cat in Norwich is a great pub. It doesn't do any food (OK, maybe a ham roll) but it has one of the best selection of ales I have seen and a good atmosphere. To me, this is first and foremost what a great pub should offer. I love good food, but I don't believe it defines a great pub.


if food be the music of love, eat on.

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I know several good pubs around the country. It all depends on what you are looking for. So here goes:

Food (but also excellent beer):

The Running Horse, Long Bank, Bewdley

The Buddle Inn, Niton, Isle of Wight

The Cherub, Dartmouth, Devon

The Crumplehorn, Polperro, Cornwall

The Stable Bar, High Town, Bridgnorth

The Church Tavern, Ludlow

Beer:

The Waggon and Horses, Halesowen, West Midlands

The Plough and Harrow, Stourbridge, West Midlands

The Vine (AKA The Bull and Bladder), Brierley Hill, West Midlands (Recently feature in Tom Parker Bowles Column in Mail on Sunday)

Beacon Hotel, Sedgeley, West Midlands

The Wellington, Bennetts Hill, Birmingham (Great for a drink before going to Purnells)

The Volunteer, Ventnor, Isle of Wight

The Blue Peter, Polperro, Cornwall

The Golden Lion, St Ives, Cornwall

The Seven Stars, Falmouth, Cornwall (Best pint of Draught Bass, in the world)

The Volunteer, Lyme Regis, Dorset

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DUKE OF PORTLAND, LACH DENNIS, CHESHIRE

I mentioned the Duke upthread but this is the first time I've had chance to write-up a meal.

Back in 2008, we said we’d return here to give it a second chance and it's taken us this. As before, the main carte is heavy on provenance and, on this Sunday lunchtime, there were elements of this still in the much foreshortened menu available. And, as before, things were not perfect.

I started with a Cheshire blue cheese salad – mixed leaves, candied walnuts, croutons and dice of the cheese. The cheese came from Heler’s at nearby Nantwich (a creamery rather than farmhouse cheese). It was OK – but it was only OK – it was just a cheese salad after all. I then had the beef & Guiness pie. Or, rather, pies – as, oddly, two of them were served. They came with decent non-sloppy mash, some mixed veg and gravy which tasted as though it had actually been made in a kitchen rather than a factory. It was a hefty looking plate of food unfortunately let down by the pie’s somewhat soggy pastry and the soggy and rather meagre contents.

My wife went for a ham hock starter. It came in a mini-Kilner jar in the fashionable way that places tart up an otherwise indifferent product. Meat was OK and of a good chunky texture. It came with bread and piccalilli. Bread was white and tasteless. Piccalilli was yellow mush – no texture and much more a bland sauce than a tart, crunchy pickle. She followed that with a burger and chips. Here the provenance kicked in – this wasn’t just a beefburger; this was beef from Ken Webb’s farm, a couple of miles away in Lower Peover. It was good. Not so good were the chips which, although cooked in dripping, had none of the taste and crispness that you might have expected.

So, some parts of this meal were good. But not really enough of them. And value for money? Not that good either – everything felt that it was a pound or two overpriced for what it was.

It'd be a place to stop if in the immediate area and, perhaps, the evening menu might have better offerings (as might the 2 course for £15 "market menu" available weekday lunches).


John Hartley

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Just curious , i dont mean to get people on the wrong foot ...i am neither English nor been to England ...There seem to be very little talk of ale/beers here ...Its all food only and the links that are here and point to pubs seem more interested in displaying their wine list than beer list .... May be i dont understand it at all :sad:

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Well, I think it's partially because this is the UK dining sub-forum and, specifically, the OP was about food in pubs.

I can't speak for others but I rarely mention alcohol in any of my posts as I don't drink it.

As for pubs not displaying their beer lists, this may be because of the "tied" nature of many pubs. That is "tied" as in tied into supply arrangements with a single brewery. So, for example, the two pubs in my village are tied to the same one - Hydes - so will only sell their beers (and a guest one, which changes only periodically). Other places, which are not tied, can source their beers from wherever they like. For example, the Brunning & Price Group, which I mention upthread, is one such and, in fact, its website does mention which beers are stocked. I'm talking proper beer here, not bottled lager.


John Hartley

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Just curious , i dont mean to get people on the wrong foot ...i am neither English nor been to England ...There seem to be very little talk of ale/beers here ...Its all food only and the links that are here and point to pubs seem more interested in displaying their wine list than beer list .... May be i dont understand it at all :sad:

Pubs landlords/managers discovered a while back that there was more money to be made selling food than there was selling beer. While once common to find pubs that sold no food other than pork scratchings and crisps, it is now very rare to find a pub where a large proportion of the floor space is not designated to diners. As mentioned on a previous post many pubs are now owned by large chains that prize profit above all else and the concept of the local freehouse is rapidly becoming a distant memory. Serving what is now called 'real ale' (once called beer) is a skilled practice. The lines require more attention, there is more waste and the cellars require better keeping. All this means less profit than a pint of lager with a plate of crap chicken tikka masala. Yes, I am old and bitter (no pun intended).


if food be the music of love, eat on.

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Well, I think it's partially because this is the UK dining sub-forum and, specifically, the OP was about food in pubs.

I can't speak for others but I rarely mention alcohol in any of my posts as I don't drink it.

As for pubs not displaying their beer lists, this may be because of the "tied" nature of many pubs. That is "tied" as in tied into supply arrangements with a single brewery. So, for example, the two pubs in my village are tied to the same one - Hydes - so will only sell their beers (and a guest one, which changes only periodically). Other places, which are not tied, can source their beers from wherever they like. For example, the Brunning & Price Group, which I mention upthread, is one such and, in fact, its website does mention which beers are stocked. I'm talking proper beer here, not bottled lager.

I think it is the name of the thread, "Great Pubs" , which is confusing. Without sounding pedantic it should be "Great food in Pubs". Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs", both as establishments selling food and as pubs??!!

As someone whoi does drink alcohol, there are many bottled lagers which are proper beer!

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Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs",

I guess that, as always with these things, it's a subjective matter of taste. What might be great to you, might be shite to me and vice versa. I'd certainly be interested to see your posts suggesting where you do think is great - it all adds to the available information on the board.


John Hartley

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Strangely this thread tends to mention many not so "Great pubs",

I guess that, as always with these things, it's a subjective matter of taste. What might be great to you, might be shite to me and vice versa. I'd certainly be interested to see your posts suggesting where you do think is great - it all adds to the available information on the board.

I guess I have an issue with the definition of what a 'pub' is. I grew up in the countryside and see a pub as the focal point of the village where folks get together over a good pint and talk. If food is required it consists of 'pub food' i.e. pies, stews, roasts etc. However, the important thing for me is that serving food is a secondary function of a pub rather than a primary one. If an establishment is going to serve ballentine of fois gras with sauterenes jelly I don't see how it can market itself as a pub? It is essentially a restaurant in an old pub building.


if food be the music of love, eat on.

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I think you miss my point on a few levels.

'Tis a weakness of mine, particular when the points are relatively obscure and, as you say, pedantic.

But, just to clarify. Your great, or even good, pub food experiences is what I would be interested in reading - this is a dining sub-forum, after all.

As for my recent experiences, I would still say that they are relative. In these cases, relative to the two pubs near to home and, on that basis, my reports have been about "great" food. I rarely find even a "great" meal to be faultless and I think it's helpful to a readership to mention these as well as the "great" points. The exception to this is the notes about Pen-y-Bryn (above) which was a poor meal and which I commented on by way of contrast to the otherwise good experiences at other places owned by this chain.

So, "good", "fair", "great" whichever - be thankful that I am not American so you will never read "awesome" in my posts. :laugh:


John Hartley

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In honour of the world cup I will be aiming to drink in some good pubs and match the beers with countries playing.

Saying that Ivory coast and Korea will be a tough one. Looking forward to England / Usa where I will be watching in my very good local pub The Crown Inn Worthington. Bourbon county stout vs a pint of "Rooney Juice".

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We did similar at home a couple of Cups ago - matching dinner to whoever England was playing. Game against Holland wasnt the most thrilling meal I've ever eaten.


John Hartley

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