The Acton Arms, Morville
Rating: ***** I don't take any notice of TripAdvisor, writes Rex Key. And you don't have to take notice of what I write.
I don't take any notice of TripAdvisor,
. And you don't have to take notice of what I write.
So if you are in the vicinity of Morville near Bridgnorth call in at the Acton Arms and see for yourself just how good the food is.
It has been under new management for four months, being run by business partners Tom Bradbury and Philip Long.
My wife and I celebrated (with dozens of members of our families) one of my big birthdays six years ago and had a thoroughly enjoyable meal, so returning on a damp Wednesday evening in November we were able to make comparisons.
The Acton has for three centuries offered comfort and refreshment to travellers (and apparently the odd ghost) but most motorists speed by without knowing what high quality dining they are missing.
We had booked beforehand having been advised that the service and food was well worth leaving the TV and armchair for. However there were plenty of tables to spare as recession-dogged Britain is not now eating out as often as it did.
That is the great worry, use it or lose it. Judging by our experience it would be little short of a tragedy if the supremely tasty and attractively presented meals we encountered at the Acton Arms were lost.
They score highly in not just choosing and cooking the food exquisitely well, but also earn plaudits for sourcing as many of the ingredients as possible from local producers (not just local suppliers, which can mean something else). They also endeavour to offer food that is in season, and therefore fresher and considerably tastier. Asparagus from, say, Peru, in November may be edible, but it's nothing like having some local spears, briefly steamed within hours of cutting.
And there were precious few air miles involved in the procurement of the black pudding wrapped in sweet cured bacon for my starter (£5.95). It was served warm with roast garlic and Shropshire Blue cheese with fine-cut, crisp salad leaves. Delicious.
The Acton damson gin cured salmon gravadlax with an orange and fennel salad (£6.75) was Libby's choice (edging out the honey roast goat's cheese with a roasted pepper salad). We were both full of compliments for the taste, presentation and well-balanced mix of flavours.
There was a broad selection of mains offered, ranging from £10.95 for the battered fish and hand-cut chips with mushy peas to the 28-day matured rib-eye with chips, garlic and tomato (£15.95). There were also two vegetarian options, the chef's specials and the fish of the day.
For me it was the braised beef brisket with whole grain mustard mashed potatoes, thyme roasted carrots and onion jus (£13.95). Brisket may be a comparatively cheap cut, but properly cooked (and mine was cooked to perfection) it is enough to make a diner swoon. I didn't need a knife to cut it, the flavour was intense and with the thick, dark, delicious onion gravy it was an absolute treat.
I swapped a morsel with Libby, who then exchanged a slice of her slow roasted pork belly, with sage and onion mashed potato, caramelised apples, black pudding and cider jus (£14.95) which she claimed just about trumped my dish. No point in arguing, they were both of premier quality. By-the-way, Libby's pork came complete with crispy crackling – but that's another story.
Delving into the desserts after that was totally unnecessary, but I did anyway (in the cause of research). They included sticky toffee pudding, coconut crème brulee, mulled winterberry Eton mess and a cheeseboard. I decided on the home grown damson and white chocolate cheesecake (£5.95), which was most enjoyable. It was imaginatively presented, as a squat tower rather than a slice. Perfectly enjoyable but perhaps not quite up to the high standard of the previous courses.
Libby nobly declined the sweet course, preferring instead to reflect on the culinary excellence which had gone before.
They are demonstrably true to their stated aim at the Acton Arms, and use high quality ingredients served at a time and in a manner so that they can be enjoyed at their best.
This is definitely a restaurant for all seasons.
The Acton Arms, Morville, near Bridgnorth WV16 4RJ
Chicken liver parfait with onion marmalade and toasted bread (£6.75)
Soup with crusty bread and croutons (£4.50)
Handmade burger with chunky chips, relish and garnish (£10.95)
Roasted pepper stuffed with bean salad served with couscous (£11.95)
Selection of sausages on creamy mash with onion gravy £9.95
Homemade faggots with hand cut chunky chips and mushy peas £7.50
Mulled winter berry Eton mess (£4.95)
Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and butterscotch ice-cream (£5.95)
Welcoming and comfortable
Extremely friendly and competent
Wide doors with level floors, toilets are wheelchair user-friendly
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.