There are plans for The Plough Inn at Wall-under-Heywood, big plans for it to become a ‘destination’ cafe/restaurant, but locals who use the bar just to enjoy a beer need not fear – they will still be welcome to pop in for a pint.
Rating: **** There are plans for The Plough Inn at Wall-under-Heywood, big plans for it to become a ‘destination’ cafe/restaurant, but locals who use the bar just to enjoy a beer need not fear – they will still be welcome to pop in for a pint.
The trio who are now running the pub on the Wenlock Edge, near Church Stretton, want to create a more sophisticated atmosphere, with good quality coffees available alongside an impressive menu, a Tanners wine list and local real ales on the guest list.
“We want to become more of a destination cafe/restaurant but still have a local bar where you can enjoy a pint and a chat,” explained Andy Stephens when I rang him up after my visit this week. He runs the pub with Steve Sant and Anne Briscoe after they took it over back in March.
They have already started work on transforming The Plough including installing a new kitchen and general refurbishment – and more is planned.
But, back to our dining out experience.
I did not anticipate a great experience, after all this is a pub which has seen ups and downs in recent years, but how pleasantly surprised I was. So much so that I commented to my dining companion that the food came from a chef not a pub cook.
And before I get vilified for that comment, there’s nothing wrong with pub cooks, they do a very good job, but food as good as ours was highly professional. A comment borne out when I learned that Andy is the chef and he has worked with some very good chefs indeed.
There is an a la carte menu and a prix fixe menu but we were both tempted by the Wednesday Night Special – two steaks and a bottle of wine for £24.99. How good would the quality and size of the steaks be, never mind the wine, at that price? On the menu was a choice of a 10oz gammon, 10oz ribeye and 8oz sirloin or rump.
Easy decisions were made as one of Neil’s favourite meals involves gammon and I particularly enjoy ribeye. There was a choice of red and white wines – not just a bottle of house – and we went for a good bottle of Merlot. Neil’s gammon arrived with a fine display of excellent chips, homemade onion rings and a fried egg sitting inside a field mushroom.
The gammon was succulent and although I thought he would never make his way through it, he did!
I think ribeye is one of the best steaks to have when it has been hung well, and this one had. Quality meat, and indeed cooking, stand out and this steak was top of the tree. Requested medium, it was perfectly cooked. It had a rich, deep flavour.
My chips were also excellent, although I could only manage half the portion, and the onion rings were crisp on the outside with juicy vegetable inside. My large field mushroom was stuffed with butter and tasted earthy and wholesome. It actually tasted like a fungi and not a piece of plastic as mushrooms so often do.
I also had a dozen tiny vine tomatoes, still on the vine, that had been cooked with a little oil. Sweet and oh so moorish. Much better than a tasteless insipid looking standard tomato.
It was difficult but we did manage a pudding, although I have to confess I did take a few ounces of my steak home for my very spoiled dog!
I had an excellent creme brulee (£4.95) which was rich and creamy under a beautifully burned sugar topping.
Neil had a chocolate fudgecake (£4.95) with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. It was moist and light and Neil also managed to clear that plate.
It was full time on both counts at this stage and we didn’t have a coffee – although a highly sophisticated machine is due to arrive soon to deliver the likes of cappuccinos, lattes and the like.
The total bill was £34.89 which was amazing value for the quality and service we experienced.
On Thursday evenings there’s another special night, beer-battered cod and chips with a bottle of wine for £19.99 and we’ll be going back soon to try that.
The Plough also does a Sunday lunch and at lunchtime there’s what looks another amazing value for money menu with light bites and bigger bites including jacket potatoes with a variety of fillings, fishcakes and salad, and liver and onions, all at £5 each.
Andy says he uses local where he can, with that delicious meat coming from Hough’s in Church Stretton, and menus that will change with the seasons and local availability.
All this seems like a recipe for success – if he and his partners are supported – and with so many pubs and restaurants in dire straits with many closing, I wish the team every success.
Especially as the Plough is just a short drive from my home!
Local ham hock, butterbean, confit duck and wild mushroom terrine with pear chutney (£5.95)
Heritage mixed tomato salad with balsamic dressing,, micro basil and basil oil (£5.75)
Slow-cooked crispy belly of pork, glazed pork cheek and crispy pug ears with fondant potato, glazed apples, beetroot and apple puree and cider sauce (£14.95)
Steak and local guest ale pudding with creamy mashed potato, carrot puree, glazed baby vegetables and red wine jus (£13.95)
Syrup sponge pudding (£4.95)
Vanilla cheesecake (£4.95)
It was early evening and a little quiet but pleasant
No disabled facilities