Bradford Arms Hotel, Llanymynech
Rating ***** Neil Thomas plays the generation game at a border hotel and comes out a winner.
plays the generation game at a border hotel and comes out a winner.
I am indebted to Mrs Marian Ingram, of Llanymynech, for steering me in the direction of a very enjoyable evening out.
Mrs Ingram wrote in suggesting that we review The Bradford Arms Hotel in her village, a hostelry which I had not visited for around 10 years and had driven past on average four times a week without ever thinking of re-crossing the threshold.
Mrs Ingram very kindly writes: "I love your Eating Out section in the Shropshire Star".
She continues: "We have the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech. When my daughter visits from Kidsgrove, Staffs, she never goes back without going to the Bradford."
Now it may just be, Mrs Ingram, that your daughter is desperately trying to put off for as long as possible her return to The Potteries, for even those of us completely enraptured by the romance and colour of Arnold Bennett's Five Towns would have to concede that Kidsgrove is one of the dreariest places on earth (I hasten to add that I write this with affectionate tongue-in-cheek as one born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent).
However, I'm fairly confident it is genuinely the allure of the Bradford Arms that detains your daughter, Mrs Ingram.
Her letter adds: "My grandson, from Oswestry, wanted to go there for his 18th. Lovely."
Any place that can please three different generations must be doing something right. In our case, The Bradford only had two generations to satisfy - and certainly succeeded.
Mr wife Vanessa's deep-fried brie (£4.95) was a starter but, so generous was the helping, it could, simultaneously, have been a finisher. These large brie wedges served on a bed of leaves with cranberry sauce could easily have provided an enjoyable light lunch in themselves.
Likewise, my smoked salmon coronets (£4.95) were excellent value in terms of quantity and flavour, with Scottish smoked salmon wrapped around lemon and black pepper seasoned cream cheese, served on a bed of crisp leaves.
Vanessa's Lasagne al Forno(£9.95) was home-cooked using, according to the menu, the chef's own secret recipe which means it is not easy to tell you with any certainty what exactly was in it, though the usual suspects for a lasagne of minced beef and pasta were, thankfully, in evidence. Taste and presentation were first class. Yet again, it was a very generous helping, supplemented by a fresh side salad and excellent, crusty garlic bread.
My Fisherman's Pie (£10.95) was also a cut above. Generous pieces of cod, salmon and prawns were what the menu promised and that is what were delivered. They were cooked in a cream dill sauce and topped with mustard mash and mozzarella cheese before being oven baked to perfection, presenting succulent seafood, smooth creamy mash and, a lightly browned crust. Delicious.
The accompanying vegetables were seasonal and fresh, while the home-made chips were the kind that transport nostalgia-obsessed middle-aged men like me back to idyllic childhoods of the 1960s when the chip pan was never off the hob, the devil had not yet entered the mind of the deranged scientist who invented the frozen oven chip and there were no "health police" .
Our seven year-old son, Sam, had a freshly cooked kid's burger (£5.95), which was certainly meaty and came with some of those old-fashioned chips. He gave his verdict by clearing the plate - and, again, it was a very generous portion.
In fact, the team at the Bradford are clearly aware that these are hearty meals, for the menu offers smaller portions of mains on request, which, in a social commentary sense alone, rather shows how far we commoners have progressed in 175 years since Dickens reduced Oliver Twist to asking for more. Please Sir, can I have less.
The beer was well-kept and I enjoyed an excellent pint of Black Sheep.
So replete were we, in fact, that there was no room for dessert which meant we forewent such treats as Malteaser crème brulee, apple Anzac tart and homemade bread and butter pudding. Considering I have a sweet tooth and the company is picking up the bill, this failure to leave room for pudding borders on negligence. Still, the health police would have been proud of me.
Sam declared his evening out to be "great" and awarded The Bradford Arms 10 out of 10, so joining a fan club that includes Mrs Ingram, her daughter and grandson, not to mention Vanessa and me.
And I'm sure quite a few others too.
Bradford Arms Hotel, Llanymynech, Powys SY22 6EJ
Tel: 01691 830582
Black pudding and apple mash tower (£4.95); Moules Mariniere: Mussels steamed in white wine in a garlic and parsley cream sauce (£6.95)
Italian chicken: Oven baked chicken breast stuffed with Mozarella cheese on fresh tomato sauce with pesto (£10.95); Pork a la Mutarde: Pan-fried pork fillet with creamy wholegrain mustard sauce (£ 9.95).
Chef's homemade cheesecake (£4.50); Treacle tart with custard (£4.50).
Relaxed and convivial
Friendly and efficient
Plenty of room between tables and wide door at rear by the car park
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