Steak and ale pie. Bangers and mash. Pasties. Pickled eggs. Pork scratchings. Pie and a pint... English pubs are not famed for their fine cuisine.
Whole swathes of the country have to make do with bland theme pubs, whose culinary offering comes delivered on trucks microwave-ready.
Tarporley, like many parts of West Cheshire, is not one such location. The area is teeming with award winning restaurants and pubs.
They don’t come much finer than The Fox and Barrel. Located in Cotebrook, just a handful of miles from Delamere Forest, this country pub has bags of character. As soon as you arrive you’re met by a herd of horses galloping around the neighbouring field and a weathered but colourful tractor sat retired next to the car park.
Inside a cosy fireplace and snug bar offer a wonderful welcome. Low ceilings and wood-panelled walls all add to the country-pub experience.
But as beautiful as the building is, it’s the food we’re here for. The food at the Fox and Barrel is excellent. A regular in The Good Food Guide, the pub won the ‘Cheshire Life Dining Pub of the Year 2013’.
I started with an Appleby’s Cheshire cheese soufflé, with pear & walnut chutney (£7.50).
My friend had the Crispy chicken wings, with lentil dahl, spiced onions, and yoghurt (£6.95).
When reviewing an eatery I like to sample all three courses; starter, main and dessert. Half way through the starter I knew I was to be defeated - as well as being delicious, the food is hugely filling!
For my main I had the Beetroot tarte tatin, with goat’s cheese, warm chicory & apple salad, and giant cous cous (£11.45).
My friend had the Salmon fishcakes, with tomato & spring onion salad, and dill mayonnaise (£11.45).
The fresh flavours shine through. It’s obvious that time and care has gone into creating well-balanced dishes which are extremely tasty, and the portions generous.
The Fox and Barrel is a family favourite of ours. It isn’t particularly cheap, but it offers excellent value for money!