Food review - The Farmer's Arms, Poynton
PUBLISHED: 15:22 14 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:14 09 November 2016
The three-month refurbishment of Robinson’s Farmer’s Arms in Poynton is a triumph, resulting in delightful decor and a refreshed menu of tasty food
Try to picture Living Ventures’ The Botanist as reimagined within the pages of the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and you’ll envisage Robinson’s startling makeover of The Farmer’s Arms in Poynton.
The late-summer 14-week-long refurbishment of the 18th Century village pub - its first major overhaul in 32 years - has produced a jaw-dropping exercise in neat, well-ordered rusticana; a sort of idyllic, stylised vision of country farming without any of the associated muck and malodorous drawbacks - to townies at any rate - of the real thing.
Members of the Stockport brewery’s design team have excelled themselves: ten square metres of wall-mounted flowers, 2,900 multi-coloured butterflies, bloom-filled milk churns and a life-size floral cow only tell a fraction of the story. The Farmer’s now also boasts a light and airy orangery sporting an atrium and cloud-dappled wallpaper, superb House & Garden furnishings, wonderful natural finishes including warm Cheshire brick and lots of wood, and at the heart of it all, a beautifully rebuilt bar in walnut with a new back bar area displaying over 30 spirits.
Thirty-two years is a long time in the pub business, during which time thousands of traditional hostelries have closed. For the most part, the survivors - and The Farmer’s Arms is a pretty good illustration of the point - have had to reinvent themselves substantially and that has meant a much greater emphasis being placed on food, an avenue into which this pub has not previously ventured to any significant degree.
It now offers a menu fully in the context of the surroundings and despite all the pressures of instant huge popularity, the Farmer’s has made a good start with its traditional English menu of home-cooked comfort food, grazing boards (wasn’t grazing something that happened in the pasture rather than the pub?) using much locally sourced produce and a range of 28-day aged steaks and burgers from the grill.
I began with that very welcome pub food revival, Scotch egg (£5.25) served correctly with a soft runny yolk; the forcemeat jacket was mixed with black pudding for a dash of extra peppery spice and the outer coating commendably crisp. It came on a bed of lamb’s lettuce leaves and a swirl of HP sauce drizzled on to the plate. Scotch egg, we missed you so!
Mrs K started with a touch of la campagne from across the Channel: if a whole baked mini camembert wasn’t enough, then the whole bulb of roasted garlic ensured a blast of forthright Gallic flavour rustique. Served in a wooden seed tray, a crisp shard of pancetta and some seared bread for dipping in the cheese sealed the deal (£5.95). For the main she chose duck confit served on potato rosti with roasted root vegetables and red onion and blackberry marmalade (£11.95), an all-round treat. The duck came crisp of skin but with flavoursome flesh tender and moist enough to be falling from the leg bones; rosti was excellent rather than the mush that sometimes arrives and the cubes of sweet roasted carrots, swede and turnip offered a lovely seasonal touch.
I hovered over choosing Dewlay’s Lancashire cheese and onion pie, billed as ‘not for the faint hearted’, but armed with the knowledge that Robinson’s do excellent fish and chips in the brewery visitor centre cafe-bar, I chose beer battered cod fillet with farmhouse chips (served in a mini pail, natch) mushy peas, chunky tartar sauce and a wedge of lemon (£11.50). I wasn’t disappointed: the cod was generously proportioned and fell into delicious moist white flakes within its tip-top batter coating and the chips were just so; crisp without, fluffy within.
Our choice of dessert was made for sharing, so we did; chocolate fondue (£4.95) comprised a bowl of rich warm melted dark chocolate surrounded by marshmallows, strawberries, mini donuts, chunks of chocolate brownie and oreo cookies for dipping. So we did...and finished the bottle of Urmeneta Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (£15.95) with offered fresh citrus and tropical fruit flavours.
The Farmer’s Arms, 90 Park Lane, Poynton, Cheshire, SK12 1RE. Tel: 01625 875858. www.farmersarms.pub