|The Pony and Trap|
Having the blog and living out with Scotland this summer, has pushed us to try divergent culinary experiences, including Josh and Holly Eggleton's award winning country pub. We booked up for a Sunday lunch a few months in advance on the recommendation of a friend who lives in Bristol, and after reading about the establishments reputation for using local ingredients.
Luckily we did, as the week before we went Josh won the South West heat, beating off the contenders on the Great British Menu. Being fans of the show, this fuelled our appetite to try Josh's cooking for ourselves. His reputation has grew since returning to his roots and origins; once a former Gordon Ramsey college scholar, his culinary and travel experiences influence his food at "The Pony & Trap" along with a field to fork ethos.
The pub is situated in Chew Magna, within the Somerset countryside. It's around about thirty five minutes from both Bath and Bristol. The pub has a rack of accolades including the Michelin award held since 2011 and coming third in the Publican Morning Advertisers top 50 UK gastropubs in 2014.
|The Bar Area|
We arrived at the remote location at noon. Walking in the front door, we arrived at the bar, where we were swiftly taken to our seats, which were tucked away through the back in a much brighter dining space. Our table had beautiful views of the Chew Magna valley. The pub had a welcoming atmosphere and was particularly busy.
|Additional Dining Space|
The interior sticks to its traditional English country pub roots, but is more modern than a traditional boozer, with its clean and bright walls and wooden furniture. We particularly liked the divergent dining experience in different rooms and spaces, where tables can suit anything from a quiet couple to a loud family gathering.
|Busy Dining Room|
It was refreshing to see that Michelin dining does have to mean table clothes, French waiting staff and a stuffy atmosphere. Instead a convivial atmosphere was apparent with a great wine list to match, and of course beers and ciders on draught. The restaurant has a clear connection to it's surroundings of rich farm lands, this is apparent with the local ingredients listed on the menu by the suppliers list and associated map. At this point it should be noted that no amuse bouche and a delivery of bread was present, this is unusual in the Michelin world but we looked forward to our Sunday lunch, here is what we ate:
|Steamed Mussels, Seaweed Butter, Smoked Bacon|
We adore mussels, especially when they are fresh. The mussels were plump and juicy. It was refreshing to have something a little different to the standard white wine sauce, where the bacon made the dish salty and delicious. It is fair to say, the sourdough done a great job of mopping up the tasty sauce which was left behind.
|Chilled Lovage Soup, Hand-Picked White Crab|
This was a colourful and interesting starter. The bright green cold soup had strong pungent flavours of fennel which worked well with the seasoned crab meat. This dish was fresh and a real testament to summer English produce, a light and refreshing start to our lunch.
Vegetable Selection: Roasted Beetroot, Baby Carrots, Creamed Savoy Cabbage & Peas, Cauliflower & Leek Cheese, Broccoli Almond Butter.
A full table with all the trimmings. We loved how the seasonal vegetables were served for sharing in small ramekins. The local produce shined through, where we particularly enjoyed the creamed cabbage and peas. This is a Sunday lunch with no tricks, just honest, heart warming food, that does all the talking for itself.
|45 Day Dry Aged Red Devon Rare Sirlon|
A classic piece of meat which was cooked rare, just the way we like it. The tender meat was a joy to eat and had a real depth of rich flavour amongst the classic gravy. The Yorkshire pudding was humungous, a classic piece of cooking, it was crisp and airy within. This balanced the rich flavours of the meat, along with the potatoes. This was by far the most popular choice among the dining table and for an obvious reason, as the classic pub grub was cooked to perfection.
|Wild Seabass, Smoked Chicken Wing|
This dish pays homage to the fresh ingredients used, where the presentation was particularly dainty and traditional of a Michelin establishment. The crispy skinned fish flaked away nicely and was a soft delight to eat. The salty crisp chicken worked well to round off this dish, but it was the butter sauce which was the star of the show. Some may argue that this is not a Sunday roast classic, we would disagree, it was instead refreshing to see a variety of dishes with an array of cooking skills.
|Sticky Ale Pudding|
We were absolutely stuffed after our mains but felt the need (or greed) to try a dessert, since Josh had just the previous week received a ten for his dessert on the Great British Menu. This homely classic had a light and moist sponge which was not over powered by the ale, instead the sticky sweet delightful sauce shined through. The pungent ice cream contrasted with the sweet aspects of the dish, although this is something we could not eat alone, it worked superbly with the other flavours on the plate. Overall, we found this dish well rounded and a delightful end to the meal.
|Apple & Summer Berry Crumble, Vanilla Custard|
We really liked the simplistic appearance of this dish, where we both are fond of this staple classic. The custard was not overly sweet but perhaps a tab too thin for our taste. The sharpness of the fruit was delightful against the crunch of the crumble. The only fault we had with the dish was the fact that the fruit and the crumble did not tie together, where the crumble instead tasted and had the texture of granola. Having tried many a crumble in our time, this didn't quite live up to the classic for us. Where we felt that Josh's take had great texture and flavour, but lacked the element of the classic crumbly pastry based topping.
|The Garden and Views across Chew Magna Valley|
After our lunch, we sat out the back at the prime spot for enjoying the surroundings. We both agreed that the lunch had been well worth the trip, where the local produce used and the cooking skill does the talking for itself. The lunch is well priced at £26 for two courses or £30 for three courses, we felt that this was of a good value, considering the accolades of the head chef.
We could not fault the waiting staff, who coped well with the busy lunch service. The menu focuses heavily on the ingredients used. We feel this is an important element and added to the dining experience, where the classic Sunday lunch was elevated due to a hint of fine dining slant which is added by the professional cooking skills within the kitchen.
Wether it's a pint; a portion of chips; a roast dinner; a tasting menu; or a pimms iced rocket; that you are after. "The Pony and Trap" can cater for the needs of a variety of individuals. We feel this is important since there is nothing worse than feeling out of place within a high end establishment.
If you fancy great food, within stunning surroundings, try The Pony and Trap for yourself.