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Affcot Lodge, Upper Affcot

South Shropshire | | Published:

Rating **** Sharon Walters finds a restaurant that shows top form only three days after opening.

Rating **** Sharon Walters

finds a restaurant that shows top form only three days after opening.

Times are hard in the pub and restaurant trade. Barely a week goes by without a closure somewhere in Shropshire or close by.

So it is good news when one that had to close its doors reopens.

The Travellers Rest at Affcot, between Craven Arms and Ludlow, suddenly shut up shop late last year.

It was part of a small group which had taken it over in 2007 when longstanding landlords Fraser and Mauresia Allison sold up and retired. The couple had run the place as an excellent country inn selling real ale and quality pub food. You could almost have described them as having been made for the job.

I went along to do a food review when the new people took over and had a very good experience. It appeared to be doing well for a couple of years but then started to falter and finally fell.

Now it has been bought by another couple ,Wendy and Chris Davis, who have run the highly successful Ragleth Inn at nearby Little Stretton for several years. They have refurbished and reopened on July 1 with manager Allison Harris in charge and a team of local chefs in the kitchen. It also has a new name – Affcot Lodge.

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So off I trotted a few days later to see what they had done.

This is a pub on the very busy A49 and as such should do a good trade all day long and indeed it is open all day. Doors open at 11am, the full menu is served between 12 and 3pm and 6 and 9pm with light bites served all day from 12 to 9pm and a Sunday carvery.

Meet and greet were excellent, the barmaid was busy serving but acknowledged us which made us feel welcome. Other establishments please take note. That reaction makes all the difference.

We ordered a couple of drinks and took a couple of menus to a table. Here a criticism. Some of the tables had beer mats on but most were completely bare and did not look appealing. A few set up to eat and with menus on would have looked better.

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Back to the food. I chose a roast Mediterranean vegetable risotto with Parmesan Tuille (£4.95) to start. Risotto is quite difficult to get right but this was as near as damn perfect. Rice of the correct consistency with tasty vegetables and a crisp and very cheesy tuille. Impressive.

Neil had one of his favourites, deep-fried breaded Brie with port and redcurrant jelly (£4.75). It came with a crisp salad and had just a light breading over the flavoursome Brie. Before I could pinch a bit to test it had gone – enough said.

After quite an "upmarket" starter I came back down to pub food with bread whole tail scampi (£8.95) – scampi and chips, not in the basket a la 70s but on a large square white plate with golden chips, a delicious salad and garden peas.

The scampi were not overcooked as happens so often when the breaded element so hard you need a chisel to break inside to the fish.

A huge 12 oz horseshoe of gammon was the other choice for main course (£10.95).

This arrived with similar golden chips to mine, salad, mushrooms, tomatoes, onion rings and an egg.

The gammon was moist, the egg runny and Neil was a delighted diner. But even he couldn't manage all that meat and took a piece of it home to a very appreciative pooch.

I just couldn't manage anything else but Neil felt a small corner had not been filled and had a lemon meringue pie (£4.25) which he chose to have with ice cream – custard and cream were also offered as options.

It was very zesty with a light meringue topping and although he had to leave some gammon, he somehow managed to find a home for all of this!

The emphasis is on using locally sourced produce where possible and one suggestion is that they could name the supplier of items like the gammon and dishes including chicken and sausages. Punters like being able to make that connection.

Our waitresses were attentive checking everything was OK and offering table service for further drinks.

As for the drinks, there is the usual range expected at a pub with decent house wine by the glass

There were a couple of teething problems, but then you expect them after just three days' trading.

However none of them detracted from the dining experience.

We went in very early in the evening in the early part of the week when you would expect it to be quiet – as it was. I am sure it sparkles more later in the evening and I fully expect that this place will soon be buzzing day-long when word gets around.

ADDRESS

Affcot Lodge, Upper Affcot, near Church Stretton SY6 6RL

Tel: 01694 781275

Web: www.affcotlodge.co.uk

MENU SAMPLE

STARTERS

Smooth chicken liver and cognac pate with red onion chutney (£4.75); Crispy whitebait with homemade tartare sauce (£4.50)

MAINS

Traditional beef and ale pie with shortcrust pastry, new potatoes and vegetables (£9.95); Creamy fisherman's pie with vegetables (£9.95); Homemade chicken, ham and mushroom pie with chips and vegetables (£9.25)

DESSERTS

Sticky toffee pudding with pecan and toffee sauce (£4.25); Raspberry brulee (£4.25)

SERVICE

Very good

ATMOSPHERE

Quiet, but I expected it to be!

DISABLED FACILITIES

Full disabled facilities

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