Cow and Plough

July 16, 2010

For those that don’t know know it, the alternative name for this lovely pub is “that place that used to be the farm park”. For a good few years now this collection of farm buildings on the South East edge of built-up Leicester has been a  real ale drinkers place run by the Steaming Billy brewery and pub company. 

Over the years The Cow and Plough  been an ideal stopping off point for a beer at the end of rural bike rides. Thanks to the selfish git who nicked my bike last month  that pleasure has been denied me this summer, but I did decide to drive out and try the restaurant there, which I had enjoyed on my only visit some five years ago. 

The pub bit of the building is characterful and rough and ready in the way real ale pubs generally are. The restaurant section down the other end  is rather smarter as befits the quite ambitious menu. Turning up without a booking I was offered a place in the half-way house section away from most of the drinkers but without laid tables.   Starters include dishes such as  rillettes of pork with apricot chutney, and pan-fried scallops with chorizo and cauliflower puree  – so despite the surroundings you can see this veers more towards fine dining than pub grub (though fish and chips, sausage and mash are available). I picked seared local rabbit and woodpigeon  salad, a slightly curious name for what was basically two hunks of meat in a gloriously sticky redcurrant jus that drowned a few lambs lettuce leaves. The meat was cooked well and had beautiful flavours – if I’d been at home the plate would have been licked.

Main course was less successful. An overcooked duck breast was pretty  tough while another sticky glaze was over-reduced  and needed a quick whisk  – a few globules of jellified stock remained. It was billed as “gooseberry sauce”, a nice seasonal idea which seemed to involve the  addition of a few poached berries to a standard meat jus. I liked the berries,  but more could have been done with them.  The sauted new potatoes and green beans were excellent though.  From a desert board I chose “trifle” – no further explanation was offered. Turned out  not bad – cream, custard and sponge were all fine and a light jelly seemingly flavoured with a touch of elderflower was very pleasant.  A curious sprinkle which  appeared to be something such as Ovaltine  was a mistake  – why not just grate some chocolate?

Service was a bit hit and miss – cutlery arrived a good 45 seconds after my starter was given to me. You might put up with that having a burger in a pub but this just seemed a bit sloppy.   I’ll cut them a bit of slack as I sat down shortly before a party of 25 arrived. The inability to provide a  bill was another issue  – given there was no price on the desert board I’ve no idea how much the desert or my glass of house wine cost.  Or indeed whether the bill was added correctly.

Would I go again? Yes I think so, but a few things would need to improve if it was to become a regular dining haunt.  

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