After our positive experience of The Pack Horse, Hayfield (described here) we booked a table for two for dinner on Saturday night. This typical old village pub, built in local gritstone, has been transformed internally into a stylish and eclectic bar and restaurant. It has a style of it’s own mixing ancient and modern, a sort of not-too-shabby chic meets loft style. It is admirably individual and avoids that over styled look of the serial refurbishers. Although now apparently focussed on providing what twenty-first century people want on a night out rather than the needs of Sixties drinkers, it still retains a pub feel and you should not be put off stopping by for a quick drink.
We arrived early and waited in the lounge area with drinks until promptly called to eat at our requested 8.30 slot. I started with the “Old school” prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce, lemon & granary bread, while the OH went for a starter portion of the battered squid served with a smoky mayonnaise from the specials board. The prawn cocktail was very good as unusually the prawns had the upper hand over the lettuce, but having tasted the excellent squid still felt I had made the wrong decision.
For main courses we chose the Pan seared lamb rump with pea mash & mint gravy and Braised lambs liver with mash, onion gravy & crispy bacon. Both dishes arrived briskly and were generous in portion and well executed. The professional and attentive servers smiled knowingly as they cleared our empty plates.
Whilst we took a breather before dessert, we couldn’t help noticing how a full restaurant of possibly 40 covers was being expertly and sensitively handled by the staff and management with all the dishes coming out on time and looking like they should. Our choices for dessert were the Sticky toffee pudding with Vanilla ice cream and a deconstructed Black Forest gateau with ‘tipsy’ cherries served in a cocktail glass. Our, now high, expectations were duly met and shortly after delivery two more empty plates were returned to the kitchen.
In retrospect, a meal of Prawn cocktail, grilled meat and a Black Forest gateau ? Surely it’s the Seventies? Did we drink a bottle of Mateus Rose or Blue Nun? No, a robust and flavoursome Australian red of a predictable grape variety (for us) and some very well kept real beer from the Wincle Brewery. The only thing approaching the seventies was the bill and that was comfortably and acceptably in the sixties !
Overall a great experience and for us, The Pack Horse could not be faulted ; excellent service, both prompt and professional (remembering drinks is always impressive), the use of locally sourced produce, good bread, a jug of tap water provided without quibble and so much more. The always attentive front of house manager, or perhaps owner, wearing his cravat with panache, offered an invitation to a opening of the upstairs private lounge which can host either dinners or small parties of up to 100 which we had to decline as we are planning a weekend away on that date. They also offered to arrange us a taxi if we wanted to stay longer but we will leave that for another time. And there will most definitely be another visit.
It appears, after speaking to the owner, that the pub is no longer in thrall to Enterprise Inns.