A historic Staffordshire pub has reopened after laying closed for five years. LIVING was invited to be among the first to check it all out…
Situated in the charming little village of Hoar Cross, about 8 miles from Burton-upon-Trent and the Derbyshire border is the Meynell Ingram Arms. This historic pub has been closed for the last five years, but reopened again to a rapturous welcome in May. Hre you can read our Meynell Ingram Arms review.
Standing in front of the building, you can appreciate its popularity. It’s a handsome building with immaculately kept gardens and green spaces decorating the exterior. A large car park to the rear provides ample off-road parking, although some of the punters choose to park up on the greenery opposite the pub entrance too. On first impression, it provides a lovely, countryside setting for both locals and destination diners alike.
As you venture inside, for those who remember the pub, it could be quite a surprise to see the transformation. I know this because one of the fellow journos attending the launch had been a previous patron and was quite surprised at the new layout. And that’s no surprise to hear. Berkeley Inns Ltd acquired it back in November 2018 and set about transforming the pub with an extensive £750k refit and redesign, but all with the aim of keeping the well-loved character of this pub alive.
The original dog-friendly Meynell bar and restaurant remains and this is the most relaxed area to sit and dine in the new-look pub. It’s cosy and comfortable and great if you’re stopping off for a bite to eat or drink after a long day or country walk. There are several local beers on tap and a vast selection of gin, whisky and rum to choose from.
Continue round the bar and you reach the new restaurant offering ample space for diners who want a more formal setting for their meal. It has a much more contemporary style with light wooden table tops and plush plum and grey velvet seating.
Off the main restaurant is also a private dining room if guests have a special occasion to celebrate. Its decadent design will certainly add a more luxurious touch to your meal, with a unique mirror and quirky art donning the walls.
Moving outside, there is a large courtyard which is beautifully designed with a wonderful ‘living wall’ of plants to one side. And to the other is Sam’s Bar – a sports bar with flat screen TVs, its own bar and pizza ovens.
Despite the separate dining areas, the menus remain the same. And you can order anything and sit where you like to eat – adding to the overall relaxed country pub vibe.
Food and drink
The Meynell is open daily for lunch and dinner, but also has a breakfast service on a Saturday and Sunday – and its proving extremely popular.
The menus are extensive and there’s plenty of them, including an a la carte menu, Sunday lunch menu and separate children’s menu. It’s also replicated (as near as possible) the a la carte menu for gluten-free diners, which I thought was particularly clever. And a broad vegan menu makes sure there is something for everyone looking to dine here.
The man responsible for the food is renowned Midlands chef, Colin Ansell. Previously Executive Head Chef at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham and for the last 10 years at Pascal’s at The Old Vicarage. There’s definitely an air of fine dining to some of the dishes, but Colin said he wanted a new challenge and the Meynell’s offering is still very much classic (high-end) pub grub, with the reasonable prices to match.
You can expect the usual pub favourites like prawn cocktail, fish and chips, lasagne and the house burger, but also a few nods to Ansell’s prestigious background with the likes of lobster and a 16oz Chateaubriand.
Plus, there’s a big pizza menu to make use of that dedicated pizza bar and plenty of sharing boards and salads for casual diners.
I opted for the Smoked Haddock Arancini which came served with a mushy pea mayonnaise and a herb and caper salad. It was simply delicious. For a main I had the 24-Hour Slow Roast Packington Pork Belly, it was rolled with a sage and onion stuffing and served with apple sauce, black pudding and cabbage and potato hash. The pork was soft and succulent, and the crackling was melt-in-the-mouth. It was very good. For dessert, I was spoiled for choice, but finally decided on the Assiette of Chocolate – three decadent desserts in one consisting of a dark chocolate mousse, an iced milk chocolate parfait and a white chocolate truffle, served with orange & passion fruit. This one is certainly worth a try. I also caught sight of the signature banana sundae (which they say is large enough to share) and that’s one i’ll definitely be going back for. If you love your puddings – this place should be on your list.
This is a new offering to Hoar Cross and Staffordshire, but Berkeley Inns has done well to keep the character of the property throughout to respect the history the pub has in the village.
The result is a pleasant and relaxed country pub that’s got a great atmosphere, wonderful food and friendly staff. It’s not only a great place to add to the county’s bustling food and drink scene, but in providing new jobs for the area, it’s a welcome boost for all.