About time I put up one my Leicester Mercury reviews. This one is of a very pleasant Sunday lunch at The Three Crowns in Wymeswold.  I’m not saying this is destination dining, but you know when you’ve had one of those meals out and you keep giving little mental ticks at things that have been nicely done?  That was this – good fresh ingredients cooked and presented with care can go a long way.

The Three Crowns

45 Far Street
Wymeswold
Leicestershire
LE12 6TZ
01509 880011

 

Cost: Sunday lunch £15 two courses, £19 three courses.

 

three crowns

 

Wymeswold is a rather lucky village. It’s got a first-rate fine dining pub in the shape of the Hammer and Pincers, then there’s the Windmill which is part of the lively Little Britain Pub family of gastropubs and now a third pub offering good food.

The Three Crowns was traditionally more of a drinkers’ pub but last summer it was rented from Punch Taverns by cricketers Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney and given an extensive smartening up, along with help from their pal Dan Cramp who has made a great success of the Larwood and Voce pub at Trent Bridge. Sensibly, it’s not a cricket themed pub – no Square Leg of Lamb or whatever. Indeed there’s no overt links to its owners, just a nice and tidy English village pub with pictures of old Wymeswold on the walls and some ancient low beams which caused a regular problem for our 6ft 3in barman.

Our Sunday lunchtime visit didn’t get off to a great start. It had been a bad enough week for City fans without going into a pub and seeing Harry Kane’s face on the television celebrating yet another hat-trick. Fortunately our table space was in a quiet little corner away from the main TV area and we could focus on the food and drink. The pub still has that pubby feel but the weekday menu is veering towards restaurant territory with the likes of chicken liver parfait with winter fruit chutney at £5 and pan fried sea trout with leeks, mash and pesto at £11. It’s the kind of menu you look at and think – if this is done well, it looks a bargain but if their heart’s not really in it, it could be very dull.

On Sunday it’s £15 for two courses, £19 for three and there’s a choice of around four starters. One look at ours when they arrived suggested we were going to be fine. A block of ham hock terrine looked lovely – deep pink meat flecked with green herbs. It tasted fine too. With some cornichons, a teeny little pan with some fiery English mustard, a few microherbs and a big doorstep of excellent toast it was an entirely pleasing assembly. The same could be said of a superficially simple starter of Colston Basset stilton with pear, walnuts and gem lettuce. Not only were the individual ingredients all delightfully fresh, but they worked together splendidly. The cheese, lightly crumbled here, was creamy and the nuts were super fresh. There’s not much worse on a plate than nuts that have gone a bit stale but these were big, fat and crunchy and matched harmoniously the rich cheese while the neatly-pared slivers of pear added sweetness.

Sunday lunch can sometimes be treated as a bit of a cash cow by pubs, so it was nice to see a level of care and precision being applied in this unpretentious setting. There were three real ales on tap, including the fruity Black Sheep from Masham in North Yorkshire which was a good match for ham hock, while from the craft beer section the spicier Rare Red rye from Caledonian stood up well to the mild cheese.

Main courses on Sunday were beef top side, loin of pork, chicken breast or roasted celeriac risotto with basil pesto. The beef was offered “pink or cooked through” – an ambitious promise during a long Sunday service but we ordered and it came precisely as pink as you’d want. It had excellent flavour too. The yorkie was superb – crunchy but not brittle around the edges, fluffy and not soggy in the middle, virtues shared by the excellent roasted spuds too. Kale and cauliflower were perfectly cooked too – in fact probably the only issue we had with anything during our lunch was the rather insipid gravy. Not horrid, just a bit of a let-down when everything else was bringing nods of approval. A shared glass of a big, fruity Argentinian Malbec was suggested to go with the beef and it was indeed a lovely addition.

The pork loin was well-flavoured but also with dull gravy. I suspect a few pork lovers would have been disappointed with the small slivers of crackling but too me this was just right – a wee mouthful to give a hint of crunch but no inedible tooth-threatening slab.

We shared a desert straight out of the home-cooked comfort food canon – pineapple upside down cake. It was a fine version – lightly browned on top, nice light sponge inside and surrounded by a light and frothy custard laced with rum.

Staff were young, friendly and cheerful and service was prompt and helpful. It all added up to a nice relaxed Sunday environment. Whichever venue you choose in Wymeswold, with Springtime on the horizon the village is a good choice for city and town dweller looking for a run out to the country.

 

 

 

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Hammer and Pincers

August 16, 2016

My recent review from the Leicester Mercury. Always good to find an old favourite is on good form.

The Hammer and Pincers
5 East Road
Wymeswold
Leicestershire
LE12 6ST

hp

I first reviewed the Hammer and Pincers around 12 years back. Since that time it has, as restaurants must, tacked and trimmed to meet prevailing economic currents but has remained in high esteem among East Midlands diners. A quick look at the online menu suggested chef and owner Danny Jimminson is currently back to offering appealing, fine dining dishes, so a good time to go back and see how it’s doing I thought.

Jimminson has a strong CV, including training at the Savoy with Anton Edelmann, but crucially for a chef who wants to prosper, he can also pick talent. A few years back he gave a job to a 16 year old local lad who had just been expelled from school – and now fiery Tom Sellers and his Michelin-starred Restaurant Story is the talk of all London.

Sellers own CV refers to his first job “in a pub”, but in truth the Hammer and Pincers is not really one of those. Wymeswold already has The Windmill, part of the Little Britain Pub Company (along with Rothley’s Bluebell and The Curzon in Woodhouse Eaves), and from August former Leicestershire cricket stars Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney are re-opening the Three Crowns, so the village is well-equipped for pubs. This is more a smart, stylish destination dining venue.

We struggled to get a table in the week we wanted to go as the restaurant was booked up with proud parents and their offspring celebrating graduation. You can see why it’s so popular for such events – the menu reeks class and the place is run by with friendly efficiency by Sandra Jimminson and her well-trained team.

Our meal started with superb bread – sweet walnut and raisin and nicely savoury rosemary foccacia. Both were so good we were pleased to be offered a second round when they saw we’d wolfed down the first lot.

Then starters – both tremendously thought-through dishes that offered a wide range of pleasures. A large, pillowy raviolini was stuffed with chorizo – suitably chopped and cooked to create a spicy, sauce-like filling – and smeared in a great smoked garlic purée. It sat on a little bed of sweet onion marmalade and then there were salad leaves covered in generous shavings of manchego, a little twist on more usual parmesan. Bringing it all together was a completely wonderful little pot of intense pork stock made with Pedro Ximenez sherry – completing the Spanish-Italian fusion style of the dish.

Our second starter was a real beauty, a ballotine combining duck liver and confit leg meat rolled in crushed pistachios with a toasted brioche roll, with lovely little balls of poached peach and melon and a sour peach purée. It looked a picture and tasted as good as it looked.

 

Then there was a palate-cleansing cucumber and herb sorbet – heavenly stuff – before tucking into our mains. I don’t know if it says more about me or the Hammer and Pincers but I realised afterwards that the two main courses were pretty much identical to those ordered on that first visit. Fortunately there was no real drop-off in standard in the intervening years. Mustard-rubbed fillet of beef was impeccable, and the sauce with it showed – like the porky one with my starter – that the kitchen takes no short cuts in with its stocks, jus, gravy whatever. There was a sort of pastilla of 48- hour cooked shin and a tremendous potato cake with thyme and smoked bacon plus roast heritage carrots. It was a hefty dish for a summer menu but great steaks will always sell and this was certainly that.

From the specials menu I ordered monkfish with lobster and crayfish risotto, not least because I was keen to pair it with one of the Rieslings that German-born Sandra had added to the wine list. Monkfish doesn’t have the kind of sublime texture and flavour of, say , turbot or halibut, or even a really good piece of cod, and it needs strong flavours around it. The risotto was indeed rich and intense with fish and herbs, though for me it was little overdone – I think risotto always needs a just a little bit of bite left in the rice. There was also an unnecessarily huge pile of peashoots with it – on this occasion a case of more is less. So a satisfying, if not perfect dish, but a great match for the Dr Loosen Riesling from the Mosel valley.

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(pics are from Hammers and Pincers website – not my meal)

 

Our shared desert was dreamy though, if you are a chocolate lover anyway. A pavé of chocolate sponge topped with rich ganache came with a light mousse contained in a quenelle of thin, crisp chocolate, a perfect raspberry sorbet, fresh raspberries and dabs of raspberry gel.

Well constructed dishes, solid classsical technique, fine ingredients and careful service all typify the Hammer and Pincers. It’s certainly a place to celebrate but should also just be enjoyed by anyone who loves their food.

The Curzon Arms

August 29, 2011

Just a very quick recommendation for Sunday lunch here. After a bracing six mile walk up and down Beacon Hill yesterday, we ended up back in Woodhouse Eaves and at the Curzon Arms.

It’s a smartened up community pub serving a rather smart community – hence soft sofas inside and big parasols providing a nice alfresco dining area too. It could be horrid, but somehow avoids gastropub smugness and just feels all rather nice and civilised. We ate outside on a warm day and first off enjoyed an excellent pint of Cornish Doom Bar ale, barely touching the sides after that long walk. We then got stuck in to some  excellent beef (sirloin, 28 day matured, plenty of it), roast pork loin with sage and onion stuffing, and a very tasty duck and apricot pie.  Veg were excellent – crisp roasties, cauliflower cheese, purple sprouting broccoli and shredded cabbage that was beuatifully crunchy. The gravy seemed a little undepowered and the Yorkshire pudding wasn’t perfect but neither detracted from a superior  lunch.  Deserts too were enjoyable – a smooth mint chocolate pot with crushed amaretti,  mixed fruit  Eton mess, sticky toffee pudding and cherry frangipane were all well made.

Not that cheap at £14.50 for two courses but the food is good, the service friendly and willing and the surroundings charming. The owners are reproducing the template at The Windmill in Wymeswold, which I think is due to open any day now and should be worth checking out if you are in the area.

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