Food review - The Smoker in Plumley

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 10:00 03 November 2020

Smoked applewood and haddock fishcake Photo: Paul Taylor

Smoked applewood and haddock fishcake Photo: Paul Taylor


A great stop-off point when taking a walk near Plumley.

Pork schnitzel
Photo: Paul TaylorPork schnitzel Photo: Paul Taylor

This month’s refreshment stop is a pub that can honestly claim to be one of a kind. In these queasy times for the licensed trade, the notice at the door of The Smoker in Plumley serves as a rallying cry for the invincibility of the great British pub: “This inn was privileged to serve the subjects of Queen Elizabeth I and is still open,” it reads. “Long live Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”.

Yes, The Smoker was established in 1597. And still it stands, serving those who turn in off the busy A556, just as it did those who clattered in on a stagecoach needing a change of horses.

It is claimed to be the only pub in Britain which goes by that strange name. If you imagined it to be a historic enclave for Cheshire’s tobacco fiends (surely a health and safety nightmare in a building that to this day sports a thatched roof) you would be dead wrong.Smoker was a smoky-coloured charger bred by the Prince Regent and later owned by the first Lord de Tabley, who raised the Cheshire Yeomanry to fight Napoleon. Smoker won 12 of his 19 races in the late 18th century – a feat marked with a new name for the hostelry that had hitherto traded as the Griffin Inn. Despite a tasteful makeover two years ago, The Smoker still looks every inch the 16th-century coaching inn. There are nooks and crannies and gnarled timbers low enough to smite the forehead of the unwary. The walls are adorned with snippets such as a list of landlords going back to Randle Mottershead in 1597.

This is a place to eat heartily, and The Smoker delivered. A starter of tomato and basil soup (£4.95) was zingy and thick as porridge, whereas my partner raved about an Applewood cheese and haddock fishcake (£5.95) with its crunchy shell and lush filling. A main of pork schnitzel (£11.95) arrived marinated in lemon and rosemary, with a generous salad, chips and apple sauce. Our other main of pan-fried sea bass (£16.50) was accompanied by purple balsamic onions and paprika-laced sauté potatoes. A shared dessert of ginger and rum pudding (£5.25) was a sticky, sweet glutinous joy.

The Smoker’s menu was that rarity – a bill of fare on which

I fancied every dish. A return visit is in order; but no hurry... this pub’s got a few more centuries in it yet.

The Smoker
Photo: Paul TaylorThe Smoker Photo: Paul Taylor

Chester Rd, Plumley, Knutsford WA16 0TY

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