We’ve found ourselves going up around Chester recently, and heard about the Pant yr Ochain at Gresford, near Wrexham.
We went because it was at just the right point in our journey, and their menus sounded good.
But from the moment we arrived, we knew it was going to surpass expectations.
First impressions positive.
A quick look round the side revealed gorgeous grounds, with a fine view down to the the lake.
Those Victorian landscapers knew what they were doing.
Inside, the feeling of visiting a county house continues.
If you want to sit in that conservatory, you’ll have to get yourself a reservation.
However, Bethan and I were delighted by a quiet table (the place is full of hidden alcoves) looking out over the garden, lake, and gambolling lambs.
And right next to the fine bar, with an impressive array of local beers and a well-priced wine list.
The menu is lengthy, with portions, prices, and degrees of fanciness to suit all.
There are sandwiches for a lighter meal, including goat’s cheese, fish fingers and a chicken-bacon-egg-salad club wrap.
The main courses are exactly as you’d expect from a high-end gastro-pub.
Duck breast with garlic and herb parmentier potatoes, greens and red currant jus, or maybe sea bass fillets with samphire and linguine, and a lamb and veg suet pudding all caught our eye.
Bethan decided to go down the veggie route, and we couldn’t complain about a lack of ingredients.
Cauliflower, sweet potato and chickpea tagine with cous cous, pitta bread and toasted flaked almonds was a lot of stuff for £11.95.
It was thoughtful,tasty and generous. As Bethan said – she could do it herself at home easy enough, but how often does she bother. One happy customer. Nor was this the only well-considered veggie option on offer.
My Coq Au Vin with buttered mash and greens (£13.95) sounded much less adventurous, but look at this big plate of food.
There must have been nearly half a chicken in there.
And that wine sauce!
So thick with good stock, so full of winey flavour, reduced down to a rich gravy.
I could have had a bowl on its own.
The mash was good, and the accompanying Savoy cabbage gave a contrast of crunch, colour and health.
It might have made your French purists cross, but it was my best value winter meal in a long time.
We were very pleased with our lunches, very pleased with the location, very pleased with the friendly service.
Our glasses of cider and beer were tippy-top too.
The desserts sounded very fine – Clementine and chocolate tart or Chocolate crumble tart with boozy cherries and raspberry sorbet – but it would have been too much at lunchtime.
If I have one criticism it’s that, err…
It’s obviously very popular?
It’s a bit near Wrexham?
No, I can’t really think of anything.
It’s part of a chain called Brunning & Price, who have done a fine job restoring the old house.
It is now charming and characterful – there are no handwritten signs advertising “Alan’s Tuesday Night Darts Quiz”. You do not “have to be mad to work here”. There is no “free beer tomorrow”.
Bethan was so pleased I found it, she paid for lunch, so I must offer thanks to the (dead posh) Cheshire Life website where I read about it.
There’s a lot of outside space, and a big open fire, so it really is a pub that suits any season.
If you’re in the area, it is the place to go.
Old Wrexham Road
Tel: 01978 853 525
(an excellent website that should be a lesson to others)