Sunday 18 August 2013

Pheasant Inn - Higher Burwardsley, Cheshire

It is said that 10% of the UK’s population lives within a 45-minute drive of the Trafford Centre. When needs must, my wife and I join the 35 million people that pass through its doors each year but despite it “boasting” Europe's largest food court, we rarely stay for food.

This statistic got me thinking about how many decent options there are for food within the same 45-minute drive in the opposite direction. One place that (almost) qualifies is The Pheasant Inn, which is probably closer to an hour away, if taking a leisurely route through the Cheshire countryside.

We visited the Pheasant towards the end of June and found it to be a pleasant pub serving good quality, largely locally sourced, wholesome food with fantastic views.

Michelin say it is a, ‘Well-run, modern pub set atop a sandstone escarpment, with views across the Cheshire Plains. The daily menu focuses on simple pub classics, with no-nonsense cooking and clear, gutsy flavours.

We arrived without a booking, which it seemed at the weekend was not the best of ideas. There was an option of a table inside but despite my wife’s protesting that it was perhaps one or two degrees too cold to be dining al fresco, the idea of sitting and looking out across the landscape won the day – especially when I noticed that the adjoining field was full of scampering rabbits, which were great fun to watch.

To drink, we ordered a Beartown Polar Eclipse (a dark oaky stout, soft aromas of treacle and burnt toffee; leading to a taste full of complex flavours, coffee, molasses and roasted barley) and a locally produced Cheshire Cox & Bramley Apple Juice (from the Eddisbury Farm in Delamere).

To start, we shared:

Deep fried whitebait with dressed salad and devilled mayonnaise –  Whitebait have always been a favourite of mine (especially tasty, well cooked ones like these) but I’ve recently read they are on the Marine Conservation Society’s list of ‘Fish to Avoid’ based on sustainability issues. I’ve vowed not to order them in the future and take greater heed of the list in general.

Sticky ginger chicken wings, spring onion and sesame salad – meaty wings, nicely done, not overly sweet and sticky.

Potted shrimps with mace and lemon, salad and toast – the potted shrimp were beautifully done with well balance flavours; the salad was fresh and the toast were good.

Char-grilled mackerel on garlic croute, with rocket and pickled kohlrabi salad, lemon and dill – my wife’s main (another starter), she was happy with it and said it was well cooked.

28 day aged Bowland 10oz rib-eye steak on skillet, with watercress, roast tomato, mushroom and onion rings – the steak and its accompaniment were good but I have no idea why they choose to serve them on a cast iron skillet, which resulted in it continuing to cook leaving the final bites cooked beyond my preference. 

Side of chunky chips – the chips were very good but came served in a china “crumpled paper cup” – the Pheasant’s chosen prop in the ever growing trend of vessels designed to give the punter less chippage.

All in all a lovely drive for a good meal and wonderful surroundings… way better than goin’ Traff! 

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