Cheshire Life Luncheon - The Glynne Arms, Hawarden, Flintshire
PUBLISHED: 10:51 26 June 2013 | UPDATED: 21:45 21 October 2015
Direct descendants of Gladstone own The Glynne Arms. The hospitality at this historic Hawarden coaching house made it an ideal choice for our Cheshire Life lunch date.
WORDS BY RAY KING PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
The Glynne Arms was built in the heart of the picturesque Welsh border village of Hawarden in 1812 – the year that Spencer Percival, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated, was shot in the Lobby of the House of Commons.
I mention this because Prime Ministers – or rather one Prime Minister in particular – are big in these parts. The ‘Grand Old Man’ himself, William Ewart Gladstone, married Catherine Glynne whose family’s ancestral seat was nearby Hawarden Castle. When Sir Stephen Glynne, the 9th Baronet, died in 1874, the estate passed to William and Catherine’s eldest son William Henry and has been under the stewardship of the Gladstones ever since.
Reel forward exactly 200 years from 1812 and the fine Georgian coaching house, which in recent times had become sadly dilapidated and had been closed for five years, reopened in May 2012. Major refurbishments instigated by Charlie Gladstone – the eminent Victorian’s great-great grandson – and his wife Caroline, who also own the award-winning sister business, the Hawarden Farm Shop, restored the Glynne Arms to its former glory.
As guests at Cheshire Life’s luncheon discovered when they gathered in the Glynne Arms’ sunlit courtyard to celebrate its first birthday since restoration, the link between the Hawarden Estate, the farm shop and the inn is not only logical but absolutely key to what this admirable venture is all about.
We were greeted with delicious canapés, refreshing spritzers made from Cairn O’Mohr elderflower and strawberry fruit wines from Perthshire in Scotland, where Charlie and Caroline farm - and welcomed by Charlie’s enthusiastic sister Vicky who looks after the farm shop and co-ordinates events at the Glynne Arms. I sat next to her throughout the splendid lunch in the inn’s Grand Old Man dining room, an attractive rustic space with many portraits of the four-time Prime Minister (the most in history). So Lloyd George knew your father...I know Gladstone’s great-great granddaughter!
The menu, introduced by manager Alan Downes, is as fine a representation of locality and season as one might encounter anywhere; brilliant for that and superbly executed by chef Alec Pringle who relishes the luxury of his close relationship the master butchers at the farm shop and having the pick of the estate’s 25-acre fruit and vegetable farm. Virtually every ingredient on the menu was sourced from the farm shop which in turn gets its produce either from the estate or trusted local Welsh and Cheshire-based businesses.
Out starter was a fantastic illustration of less being more, of simplicity supreme. Excellent creamy baked golden Welsh brie, its rich flavour and runny texture enhanced by delectable sweet honeycomb, was served with sharing platters of crudités of roasted purple sprouting broccoli, charred and raw estate-grown asparagus and Garrard’s of Wrexham multi-seed bread for dunking. What a country feast with which to serve the ideal wine partner, the Glynne’s house white sauvignon blanc from Chile, supplied by Rodney Densem Wines of Nantwich.
The main course delivered another seasonal treat: gloriously uncomplicated, just wholesomely delicious. Roasted estate-reared sirloin of beef, hung for 30 days for maximising tenderness and flavour, came with the first Cheshire new potatoes of the season, red wine sauce and two sharing platters of just-picked vegetables – one a mélange of estate-grown asparagus, broad beans, peas and pea shoots, the other a colourful and tasty confection of roasted beetroot, Wirral watercress and horseradish salad with crème fraiche. The house red, ripe and plummy Chilean merlot, accompanied.
Pudding was conceived and served in similar comforting style – estate rhubarb, harvested the night before, arrived in a compote with orange blossom, the shortest of home made shortbread, yoghurt and honey. Confirmation indeed that, when it comes to a choice between over-indulged cheffy cleverness that can render the provenance of ingredients irrelevant or the simple delights of season and region, give me the latter any old time.
Cheshire Life Luncheon Menu
Baked Golden Welsh Brie with Honeycomb, Crudités & Multi-seed Bread
Trewa Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Chile
Estate Reared Roast Sirloin of Beef with Red Wine Sauce
Trewa Estate Merlot 2012, Chile
Estate Rhubarb & Orange Blossom Compote, Shortbread, Yoghurt & Honey
The Glynne Arms, 3 Glynne Way, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3NS; Tel 01244 569988. www.theglynnearms.co.uk