Review: England's Gate Inn
PUBLISHED: 15:23 14 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:55 20 February 2013
Martin Griffiths takes an old friend for dinner at the England's Gate Inn, Bodenham, and enjoys the good beer, ambience and high quality cooking
Martin Griffiths takes an old friend for dinner at the Englands Gate Inn, Bodenham, and enjoys the good beer, ambience and high quality cooking.
Situated just south of Leominster on the edge of Bodenham, Englands Gate is an example of how a wonderfully old Herefordshire pub can keep refreshing its ideas and respond to changing markets without losing its essential friendly character.
The wealth of beams, stripped and polished to reveal the glory of the grain, great open fireplaces and country furnishings make it every inch a traditional village pub. What has been added is a converted coachhouse offering very smart accommodation and a menu with top-quality cooking of a range of classic British food and a chefs passion for detail and flavour.
From an interesting selection of starters, I chose the spiced pear and Stilton with crushed hazelnuts and a ginger and star anise syrup. This is a subtle combination of sweet and sharp savoury flavours, the Stilton is a creamy quenelle, which exemplifies the chefs understanding of flavour combinations and how to balance them.
On the mains menu this thread of thoughtfulness continues with choices such as lambs liver with bacon and a saffron mash, roast breast of chicken wrapped in bacon, apple, chorizo and black pudding and poached monkfish with prawn, lobster and dill: classics, with an added touch of finesse and attention to detail. Not over-fussy, just good cooking. I eventually chose the roast fillet of pork stuffed with apricots served with a lovely Marsala and sage sauce.
Head chef Darren Field clearly knows his stuff and is making great use of his local background. Hes passionate about his ingredients and proudly says: The majority of our ingredients come from a 20-mile radius. Meanwhile, my companion Garston is tucking into a steak with chips, mushrooms and tomatoes. Cooked just as I like it, he explains tender and a lovely sweet flavour. Some people talk a lot of squitter about food, but this is good honest food and thats fine by me.
Puddings and a superb cheese selection looked enticing and I chose the chilled lemon posset and really enjoyed it. Clean flavours to finish off a meal before relaxing with coffee and a malt whisky.
Englands Gate is a bit like an old pal. Someone you might see regularly or revisit after a time away but always feel perfectly relaxed with. And that makes it an essentially friendly pub, offering good beer, plenty of ancient beams and excellent food to entice you back.
Englands Gate Inn, Bodenham, Hereford, HR1 3HU. 01568 797286.