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nikkib

Pubs - the topic

128 posts in this topic

Three pubs I've lunched at in recent weeks and have been impressed by are:

The Red Lion, East Chisenbury, Wiltshire. It has a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’.

http://redlionfreehouse.com/ Limited choice of 3 courses for £15, or alc

The Swan at Southrop, Gloucestershire. Recently voted the GFG Restaurant of the Year. http://www.theswanatsouthrop.co.uk/ 2/3 courses for £14/£17 with two choices per course from the more extensive, and expensive, alc menu

The Marquis at Alkham, Kent http://www.themarquisatalkham.co.uk/ Michelin rising *

2/3 courses for £15.50/£19.50 with at least four choices per course

I've posted a longer comment on the Marquis on its eponymous egullet thread.

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Malcolm

Much as I've also enjoyed the food at the Marquis, surely you're not really considering this to be a pub are you? Whilst the building once was, it certainly ain't now - very serious full-on restaurant, IMO.

John


Edited by Harters (log)

John Hartley

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CORN MILL, LLANGOLLEN

Brunning & Price back on form!

Had an enormous portion of very tasty braised lamb shoulder. Came with Puy lentils, cooked in stock with onion and other stuff. Good range of veg - cauli, beans, carrots, cabbage.

Herself only wanted a prawn sandwich (but then she is a Man United fan).


John Hartley

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You're correct of course John.

The Marquis is described on its website as a " boutique hotel" or "restaurant with rooms".

I put my mistake down to the bus I caught from Dover; it's stop in Alkham is still called the " Marquis of Granby". :smile:

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Is this, perhaps, thedefinition that separates the gastropub from the merely pub? I'm not sure.

"There seems to be a certain type of person who dislikes intensely what we are trying to do. They like cheap food, have a fixed idea of what a pub should serve and often seem to get the words servile and service mixed up. They also like very long menus, very hot food and are quite Stalinist about these matters. The idea of a pub serving food of the highest quality (by definition this is also means a higher price) in a simple, relaxed setting seems to annoy them."

(Lifted from the Sportsman's website)


John Hartley

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DYSART ARMS, BUNBURY, CHESHIRE

I don’t know why I order starters in Brunning & Price places. They never seem to be a patch on the main courses. My partner has learned that lesson but, for me, some things are deeply rooted in my north western genes. Like seeing black pudding on a menu and being compelled to order it.

So it was that a plate of black pudding, bacon and tarragon hash cake arrived. It was a sizeable portion but it needed more – more black pudding that is. And more bacon. And much more seasoning. Topped with a little leaf and with a fried egg draped over it, it looked far better than it tasted. And, whilst I’m having a whinge, let me also criticise the egg – it had a crispy base (something I dislike), yet there was a slight snottiness to the white (something I dislike even more). And I’m not at all sure that the tarragon worked. Not good this. Not vile. Just not good.

Far, far better was the main. Chicken and leek pie. Generous portion of chicken, good flavoured béchamel sauce, some bits of leek (more would have been better) and the crispiest pastry I can recall in a long time. This really was a good pie. It came with fried scalloped potatoes and some shredded cabbage and carrot. For my money, as fine a pub lunch dish as I want to come across.

Meanwhile, herself was getting stuck in to braised lamb shoulder. Although each pub fixes its own menu, there must be some central guidance as there is always a braised lamb dish of some sort on each one (and burger and ham/egg/chips). Today’s offering came with dauphinoise potatoes, carrot and mangetout. As always, it was very generous portion – with a very good flavour from the long cooking. Another winner.


John Hartley

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Not been here in a while John, even though its one of our favorite pubs. Its wonderful inside and out, but on a sunny Cheshire day it really comes into its own.

The food was a bit patchy on one of our last visits but I love the Brunning and Price brand and generally they do a cracking job.

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Weather was a bit iffy - but we managed a little stroll along the canal afterwards. The church was also packed with history - for instance, some painted panels from 1450.

Pub was surprisingly quiet for a B & P place - apart from a couple of guys having a swift pint, we were the only ones in. Must have hit it on a bad day as the landlady says they make 50 pies every other day.


John Hartley

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A return to the GLASFRYN today for lunch, as we were passing nearby.

Herself had a very decent Welsh rarebit - nice thick toast, fairly good cheddar, some well dressed leaves.

I had an enormous and very tasty burger, topped with bacon, cheese and just about everything else you think should go with a burger. With chips.

Nice.


John Hartley

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And a return lunch visit to SUTTON HALL

Some pretty decent food, although there were inordinate delays in bringing it (including getting on for 40 minutes between starter and main).

Butternut squash & sage soup – warm autumnal flavours, nice little note of sage

Pigeon breast salad – nicely rare meat, a scattering of bacon over watercress, sherry vinegar in the dressing, spoilt a little by the poached egg which should have added to the dressing being cooked all the way through.

Fish finger sandwich – homemade. Nice. Nuff said

Braised silverside – I would have cooked this a tad longer for “cut it with a spoon” tenderness but it was none too shabby. Mash, veg & gravy. Good plate of comfort food.

And Mrs H had a pint of Lord Lucan pale ale from the very nearby Wincle brewery. She said it had a mysterious and elusive flavour – or was she talking about Lucan?


John Hartley

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http://www.thesmokerinn.com/ a recent lunch time visit to the smoker in knutsford left me very impressed indeed. They have a great selection of hot and cold sandwiches and also "real" dishes as well. We just went for sandwiches as we werent too hungry - i had cheshire cheese with damson jam and the others went for "hedgehogs" a warm plaited bun with various fillings. Service was very friendly and the pub has a real cosiness to it - one to stop in at if you are in the neighbourhood for sure.

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

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ROSE & CASTLE, ANSTY, COVENTRY

Just off Junction 2 of the M6, the Rose and Castle has a canalside setting that’d be lovely in summer. It’s definitely a pub for eating rather than drinking, although there’s nothing remotely “gastro” about the menu.

There’s a long menu suggesting regular deliveries from Brakes Bros, or similar supplier, but home cooked ham was a generous portion of a quality gammon which came with coleslaw, chips and a salad garnish.

The local Midlands dish of faggots also had a decent offaly flavour but I’m glad the chips were served separately otherwise they too would have drowned in the lake of industrial strength gravy (made worse by the fact that it had already started to form a skin.

As often with these motorway stop-offs, I find that despite the negatives this was much better food that we’d have got at Corley Services. And much better value too as there was a BOGOF in operation till the end of the month which meant that the two plates, and a drink each, cost just twelve quid.


John Hartley

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I was having a glance through this thread to see whether it's the right place to post about a lunch I'll be going for later today (it probably is, post to follow tonight) but was interested by the debate about beer/food above, so here's my input.

There has been a huge explosion in the number of small, independent breweries making interesting beer in recent years. The cask ale movement (the OP on the subject (anm) may have heard of CAMRA, the campaign for real ale) has been going for decades now, but more recent developments have probably been influenced by the American craft beer movement, with high quality keg beers being developed as well as cask ales.

The consequence of this is that there are many, many pubs serving high quality beer, but these aren't necessary the same pubs as those serving high quality food (although there are some doing both). Here are a just a few of those pubs in three major cities, listed off the top of my head:

London

The Rake

The Market Porter

The Euston Tap

Jerusalem Tavern

The Royal Oak

The Greenwich Union

Manchester

The Marble Arch

Crown and Kettle

Bar Fringe

Knott Bar

The Angel

The Castle Hotel

Peveril of the Peak

The Britons Protection

Port Street Beer House

Leeds

North Bar

The Reliance

The Adelphi

The Palace

Mr Foleys Cask Ale House

Veritas

Every one of the above will serve you excellent beer, and there are many more throughout the country.


Visit Northern Food at http://m62food.blogspot.com/

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Cross Scythes Sheffield

Went here at the weekend

http://cross-scythes.com/menu.php

5 of us plus kids, hot sandwiches and chips were the order of the day, standard sounding stuff but done really well steak and onion, roast beef and horseradish, homemade chips were fab, desserts were better than the usual pub fayre cheesecake especially - will go again!

Couple of pints Timothy Taylors landlord made a good start to a day out.


Edited by codheadred (log)

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Crab and Lobster, Asenby, North Yorkshire

Sunday afternoon here yesterday. It's a pub restaurant specialising in seafood, been around for years as far as I'm aware. Just about still classifies as a pub, it does have a bar area although the focus is very much on the dining. Off the wall atmosphere with crazy decor and live music (see the blog for full details), it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Food is expensive (around £30 for 3 courses without any booze) but the £18 3 course lunches available Mon-Sat would be great value. Generally high standard, excellent mussels, fish soup and desserts. Fish and chips was a bit of a duff note, the fish was fine but the batter was too thick. Roasts were also good, but judging by the soup and mussels I think the fish/seafood dishes (not battered) are probably the way to go.

Overall a good option, particularly for a passing lunch as it's just off the main North/South routes (A1 and A19).


Visit Northern Food at http://m62food.blogspot.com/

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FOX & BARREL, TARPORLEY, CHESHIRE

You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a Brunning & Price pub. The furnishings are similar, the welcome and the immediate offer to set up a tab is similar, the menu is similar. In fact, everything is similar – right down to the old prints on the walls of the loos. It’s no surprise – both the manager and the chef are ex-staff of the group, previously working at the Grosvenor Arms. And, clearly, they know what works and have taken that with them.

We weren’t that hungry and decided to go straight for main courses. Pot roast lamb rump was flavoursome. It sat on lentils which were OK, although there was slight incongruous taste going on there – burnt garlic probably. Full marks for serving a free-range chicken breast on the other plate, although it was a shame to cook it till it was a bit dry. It came with what was described as “chorizo boulangere potatoes” which were fine as a small serving of boulangere but without any discernable sign of chorizo. Some honey roast carrots and green beans completed the dish.

Now, it is fair to say that the food is well above the offerings of most pubs. In itself, that doesn’t say much and the test for us had to be was it the equal, or better, of Brunning & Price places. Well, I’m afraid that on this showing, no it wasn’t. There was a lack of generosity in portion size and the cooking was just off the mark.

The Fox is listed by the Good Food Guide as a Cooking 2 which may be about right (as I'm in a generous mood today). How come no Brunning & Price places listed by the Guide?


John Hartley

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John - as the resident Brunning & Price expert, it's 3 years now since B&P cashed in their chips and sold out to TRG. Would it be fair to say that our fears at the time have not been realised and that B&P have been able to maintain their erstwhile core values?

I ask because I only ever get to visit Harkers, their Chester presence, and any change there might be down to changes in management at a local level, rather than wider influences.

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The Berkeley Arms, Wymondham, Leicestershire

We went here for Sunday lunch a week ago, and it was one of the best pub meals I have had in a while. It's a lovely place, not far from Rutland Water - and quite handy for the A1. It's nicely furnished, with an open fire and areas for drinkers who don't want to eat. I thought it might be a good bet, as I had read that the new (ish) owners used to work at Hambleton Hall just down the road, which always gets great reviews and has a Michelin Star.

All four starters were good - a decent prawn cocktail (I don't care what they say, I love it); a pork, chicken liver and pistachio pate; mushrooms and poached egg on toast and a goats cheese dish, which I can't remember the details of, but the bit I tasted was very good.

Two of us had the roast beef - cooked beautifully to a pinky red; one had the roast pork, which was perfectly cooked - not always easy with loin, and one had a delicious salmon dish, served with a tomato tarte tatin, and some other things I can't remember. The roasties were great - the best I've had outside of my own kitchen - and cooked with goose fat I think. The gravy served with the beef was pretty good, but it was slightly sweet tasting, which I wasn't sure about. And they serve it with a mean homemade horseradish.

Portions (particularly of the meat dishes) were huge, so we were too full for pudding, but the list was tempting - including three of my favourites: creme brulee, bread and butter pudding and pannacotta with rhubarb.

The other menus read well - mostly British dishes, with a few French and mediterranean influences, and they try to source as much as they can locally. They know what they are doing in the kitchen - the food is simply done, but with a few interesting twists, and the ingredients are good quality. Prices were reasonable for this standard of cooking - £18 for two courses and £21 for three. Lunch deals during the week are a fair bit cheaper, and there is an a la carte and a bar menu too. A two course lunch for four people, with a bottle of red, glass of white, a soft drink and two pints of bitter came to £120, including tip.

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and that B&P have been able to maintain their erstwhile core values?

I would say so.

It's consistently a pleasant and well valued lunch experience (one experience at Colwyn Bay excepted). My only criticism which I seem to voice on most my reviews upthread is that starters tend to be poorer than mains - but that's possibly down to my picks.

They continue to slowly expand, particularly in the south (where they've now got something like 10 places). Expansion and a loss of what must be quite close management control of the group would worry more than the overall ownership issue.

John


John Hartley

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Quick word on the Harkers. I love it as a pub especially in the quiet of the afternoon. It's very well stocked and shows no sign of being part of a large commercial chain. It's also half way between my bit of North Wales (Bethesda/Bangor) and the rest of the world and only five minutes from Chester Rail Station. So for the third year in a row I had my birthday celebration there last Saturday - excellent, tolerant staff.

But I'm not so sure food-wise and less so since I asked if I could have a burger as pink as they were allowed to serve it. I was told it couldn't be rarer than it was because burgers came in pre-cooked.

Mick Hartley (no relation)


Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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Oh dear, pre-cooked burgers are an 'orribly bad sign.


John Hartley

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...because burgers came in pre-cooked...

Wow. I didn't even know that was possible.

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SWAN INN, KETTLESHULME, CHESHIRE

Situated on the Cheshire/Derbyshire border, just outside Whaley Bridge, this is a small pub doing some bloody good food, several cuts above the standard “pub grub”. And, when I say small, I mean small. If you’re going, you’d do well to book. We hadn’t and were lucky to get the only one of about ten tables that was free.

There’s a range of sandwiches and snacky things. Gypsies’ eggs perhaps – a chorizo and wine stew, topped with eggs and then baked, or mushrooms on toast. The main menu makes great play of a commitment to fish stating that they are members of the “British Skippers Scheme. This allows any participating trawlers to email details of the days catch to participating members before each catch is landed. We can then reserve stocks through our wholesaler to be delivered and on the plate within 24 hours”. Now that sounds like a great idea!

And one of our dishes came off the seafood menu. Whitby-landed baby lemon sole was accurately grilled, the flesh just flaking off the bone. It was topped with a generous serving of sweet brown shrimps, warmed through in a spiced butter. Lovely concept.

I toyed with the idea of the Greek rabbit stew or the 22oz rib steak, cooked on the bone, with chips and gravy but it was impossible to resist the obvious pig-fest that featured local pork belly, long cooked and delicious with very crisp crackling. Alongside a local sausage, and chunks of Clonakilty black and white puddings. Both dishes came with separate servings of dauphinoise potato, carrot, crushed cauliflower and leeks.

Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.


John Hartley

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ROEBUCK, MOBBERLEY, CHESHIRE

The Roebuck is a past holder of the Cheshire Dining Pub of the Year award. And certainly, there’s a really good dining pub struggling to get out, in the competition between pubby food outlets on the outskirts of Manchester Airport. The small village of Mobberley has three decent contenders and a couple of others doing pretty gruesome looking pub grub.

What brings folk in is the exceptionally well priced lunchtime two courses for a tenner. That might bring you Bury black pudding cake topped with poached egg, followed by local lamb’s liver and onion gravy. Another draw is the well kept beer, which included Tatton Best bitter, from literally just down the road in Knutsford.

However, we decided to order off the main menu. For starters, a classic prawn cocktail was a generous mix of king and ordinary prawns. The sauce a tad underseasoned and a tad parsimonious. For the other, a breast from a locally shot wood pigeon sat between a “sandwich” of puff pastry with a little watercress and spinach sauce. It was good idea that needs some work – cook the sauce more to intensify it, cook the pigeon less so that’s not so tough.

Rib of beef was described as 24 hour roasted (eh?) and served medium rare. Perhaps their definition of medium rare is different to mine, but this was somewhat past medium. Damn good flavour, though. Excellent goose fat roasted spuds, carrots, broccoli and cabbage contributed to my five-a-day. There was very good gravy and two deliciously crisp rashers of pancetta.

On the other plate, an individual homemade shortcrust pie – steak, mushrooms, Tatton beer. I wanted this as soon as I looked at it but there was no chance of a swap. It came with the same veg as my beef, chips and small jug of beer based gravy. Good dish.

So, a pretty reasonable lunch which, with drinks, had cost £45. Not perfect, but perhaps they were having an off day. The Roebuck might describe itself as a dining pub but this is pretty much a restaurant in anyone’s book. Sure, you’ll be welcomed just to stand at the bar and swig a pint or two. But folk are mainly here eating – you’re shown to your table, as in any restaurant; orders are taken at the table and the bill is later presented. Don’t let that put you off.


John Hartley

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http://www.thehollybushpub.co.uk/ - now this is what pubs are about. The landlord in a suit and simple pub grub and well kept beers. BLT sandwich was a real treat, perfect back bacon, well cooked and generously portioned with juicy tomatoes and lettuce. No restaurant food here, but if you are after a great sandwich/ploughmans/egg mayo and prawn then this is your place

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

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