Martin Griffiths reviews The Portway Inn, Herefordshire

PUBLISHED: 12:06 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:08 20 February 2013

A beef pie from the bar menu represents the Portway’s well-cooked, traditional food at sensible prices

A beef pie from the bar menu represents the Portway’s well-cooked, traditional food at sensible prices

This traditional Herefordshire inn has a new look, a new menu and a new owner. Martin Griffiths visited and found a delicious mix of classic and contemporary

Portway to pleasure

This traditional Herefordshire inn has a new look, a new menu and a new owner. Martin Griffiths visited and found a delicious mix of classic and contemporary

New owner Darren Rawcliffe and his team have already made significant renovations to the Portway and with the newly refurbished rooms now up and running they have added a comfortable and smart dining room and employed the services of an exciting and passionate young chef.

Darren is keen to offer both a drinking and dining option alongside comfortable country accommodation. With its separate lounge and private dining options the Portway can host family parties and business meetings. There are 10 spacious bedrooms and the new restaurant will seat up to 60.

The present menu offers some hearty bar meals while new chef Adam Davidson is working alongside Darren to introduce exciting options including English classics that really make the most of local and seasonal produce. Adam has worked in some of the areas most highly regarded restaurants and he and Darren are so committed to local produce they are looking to grow some of it themselves.

Their approach will be to keep the food simple and well cooked. Darren calls it the sort of food I would like to serve to friends who come for dinner in my own home and Adam is looking to cook mainly British food that is open to other influences. The meal that Mrs G and I enjoyed on our recent visit fulfilled both these objectives.

We started with a bowl of mussels cooked in a light creamy sauce flavoured with ginger and chilli. This represents the Portways new approach to food, as it was clean, unfussy and fully flavoured. For main course I went for a beef pie from the main bar menu and was not disappointed. You get a pot full of tender chunks of beef in a thick juicy sauce and a lovely, light, crisp pastry topping. Its become a pub classic but when its that popular and tastes so good why look to change it? If its not broke dont look to fix it.

Mrs G opted for one of Adams new choices of duck breast served on a potato rosti. This is fine cooking and it was served with a delicious and subtle orange and honey sauce. My beef pie was absolutely fine but the duck represents a high degree of cooking skill and reflects the new menu and high aspirations of the chef. Both dishes were served with ample amounts of freshly cooked vegetables, plainly presented, simple and honest.

Pudding offered more treats and although the baked figs cooked in a reduced honey and red wine sauce was very good, the star of the show was the bread and butter pudding served with custard. Adam had kept the pudding light but gently sticky and allowed it to gain a little crisp topping. Flavoured with a touch of cinnamon and orange this really is classic British food at its most glorious and unpretentious best and is highly recommended.

I was pleased to see that Darren has also put some English wine on his wine list. Nearby Lulham Court makes a perfectly acceptable range
of white wines that will go splendidly with his ideas about food although there are also some fantastic world wines on offer, including an excellent Sauvignon Blanc from the Nautilus estate in New Zealand.

Getting there
Situated on the main road out of Hereford towards Brecon the Portway offers excellent accommodation that is smart and comfortable. The new menu looks well judged and on my visit was excellently cooked. There is some fine walking in the area, the River Wye is nearby and the towns of Brecon and Hay are within easy reach. It makes a great venue for family gatherings, parties and celebrations and there should be plenty of delicious options on the winter menu.

Portway Inn,Staunton on Wye, Herefordshire, HR4 7NH
Tel: 01981 500474

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