Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: The Feathers Inn, Hedley on the Hill, Northumberland

Pubs, they come in all shapes and sizes. There's the local at the bottom of your street, there's the gastro pub you go to for a good burger and there's the dodgy looking pub you can go to if you want to see a man about a dog. So if you try and imagine Britain's best pub it's a little tricky, would you think of an amazing boozer you can spend hours in having pints on a Saturday afternoon or somewhere with incredible food?

The Feathers Inn at Hedley on the Hill won such an award late last year and it can now call itself Great British Pub of the Year as well as winning the Best Gastropub award. This isn't a boozer you can haphazardly spend an afternoon in, rather one you have to book at least a week in advance to get a table, but it is still a properly British pub with unfussy and traditional interior located in the centre of a rural village that also happens to do some of the best food in Northumberland.

I have been to The Feathers Inn once before, just before they won the award which must certainly have propelled them to a different level of expectation and demand, and it was so utterly fantastic I have been dying to go back ever since. Sadly for car-less folk like me, their idyllic rural location means its bloody impossible to get to so I had to wait for my opportune moment. Moving house (yes I no longer live in a horrendous houseshare) meant my parents had to deliver me my new Le Creuset dishes (not a joke) and I suggested a little drive to the country. However a very well planned drive, as even calling 5 days before the only table left was first thing at 12.

The Feathers Inn, Menu
What this picture of the menu doesn't show you is the map on the back which shows where all the food being served has come from in the local area - one of the main things about The Feathers Inn is their attention to food sourcing and animal welfare. It was reassuring to know I could eat my hunk of cow safe in the knowledge it was a locally reared Haydon Bridge beef. They are so dedicated to the sourcing of their food they've won an RSPCA award for the last 3 years.

Of course I went for the beef roast with all the trimmings. This option did come with a £3 supplement to the menu price of £13.50 for one course, making it a pretty pricey roast. It was delicious - a thick cut flavoursome piece of meat, perfectly crisp roast potatoes (although I could have done with 1 or 2 more), a huge yorkshire and sticky honey parsnips.

Roast Rib of Beef, The Feathers Inn
All the trimmings, honey parsnips, carrots, califlower cheese, braised red cabbage

I normally like my meat a bit pinker than this but it was still wonderfully tender and the edges had a nice charring.

The Slow Roast Ravensworth Grange Middle White Pork with apple sauce and real ale gravy was a winner with my mother although sadly didn't come with crisp roasties and the other half had a Steak and Kidney pudding with beautifully creamy piped mash. Both represented the best of classic British cooking using only the highest quality British produce.

Steak and Kidney Pudding with creamy mash, The Feathers Inn
Slow Roast Pork

Whilst the mains were very good, I am of the school that a roast has its limits and its proper place. It's something you grow up, reminds you of home and no matter how good they can be when eating out (and this one was very good) there's nothing like mother's own. Pudding on the other hand, is a whole other kettle of fish.

I had been hoping they would do the cheese board even though it was Sunday lunch. The cheese board at  The Feathers Inn is phenomenal, a huge platter of cheese is brought out to you and you choose which ones you'd like and are served with hunks of fresh bread and crackers.

It being a sunday lunch and this being a traditional British pub, there was of course not a cheese board as that would have been a bit odd. Instead I indulged in the richest, most heavenly dark chocolate torte with marmalade ice cream. The bitterness of the dark chocolate was complimented by the sweet, tangy marmalade ice cream, which i'm pretty sure is made in house. This pudding killed me. The slice was huge, I could barely move after finishing it.

Dark Chocolate Torte 
The other half, ever the traditionalist went for the sticky toffee pudding and both parents opted for a very lovely quince, pear and apple and almond tart of some kind. My dad is very much a pudding man, and throughly approved.

The Feathers Inn truly is a fabulous British pub, the sort that needs to thrive in the countryside and has the sort of ethos and values more restauranteurs need to take up. They also regularly run special events and food markets which can only been good for the local community in a small village. The views surrounding it are also stunning if you were debating whether the drive was worth it. It is. 

After the roast, torte and a pint of pale local ale I wanted it to be nap time but drove down the road to Corbridge to visit RE, another fabulous reason to venture out into the Northumberland countryside. 

The Feathers Inn is located in Hedley on the Hill just outside Stocksfield, 01661 843 60, I would recommend booking about a week in advance for weekend meals & Sunday dinner. 

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