Restaurant Review (The Hunstman)

The Huntsman at Little Wenlock is tucked away in the midst of the Shropshire countryside, as you approach the recently renovated building looks cosy and inviting, the perfect setting to enjoy a relaxed meal as the winter draws in.

The Huntsman is owned by a local Shropshire Family and has been successfully run for the last 3 years by Manager John Duncan. The team have recently welcomed a new head chef Idris Hughes, formerly of the Mytton and Mermaid. His new menus are bursting with wholesome British classics with a strong focus on using only the best fresh local produce.

Food is served from Monday to Saturday 12noon until 9.30pm and 12noon until 7.30pm on Sundays. Menus are updated regularly with Sunday lunch and Children’s menus available. Current menus are available to view on the website at www. thehuntsmanoflittlewenlock.co.uk and booking is always advisable.

On arrival we were shown through to the cosy bar area, where we ordered drinks and perused the menus next to the roaring fire, before being shown through to the dining room. An imposing inglenook fireplace dominates the large open plan Dining Room, floor to ceiling French windows stretch the length of the room, which by day flood the room with natural light and by night reflect the flickering candle light and glow of the log burning stove.

As it was a Monday evening we had the option to order from the special menu which featured 2 courses for £10.95 or 3 courses for £13.95 (available on Mondays and Tuesdays) or choose from the autumn menu, which we both did. There was a wide selection of dishes available to suit all tastes including vegetarian options; I found it really difficult to choose, as there were just so many tempting options!

To start I opted for the chicken liver and port parfait with toasted brioche (£4.95) and Fran ordered the creamy garlic mushrooms with toasted ciabatta (£4.95). My starter came artistically presented on a long rectangular plate. The lightly toasted brioche triangles were the perfect accompaniment to the smooth and flavoursome pate, which was served with a deliciously sweet onion and orange marmalade and fresh dressed leaves.

Fran described her starter as satisfying and warming; it comprised of a generous portion of tender mushrooms in a creamy sauce with a serving of garlic ciabatta. She commented that the sauce was creamy yet surprisingly light and the crisp yet fluffy garlic bread finished the dish off perfectly.

After a short wait our mains were served, Fran went for the (New) Huntsman burger (£11.95) and I couldn’t resist the crispy confit belly pork, on bacon and scallion mash (£13.95). The presentation was spot on yet again with the burger served on a rustic wooden board, with a cute mini bucket of French fries and a serving of fresh dressed leaves on the side. The burger tasted incredible, the patty was perfectly cooked and the Wenlock blue cheese centre was creamy and delicious, with a Dijon mustard kick rounding the flavours off perfectly. The bun was soft and warm and the French fries were crisp and perfectly seasoned, all in all a brilliant burger!

My pork belly was mouth meltingly tender with a wonderfully crisp skin, the bacon and scallion mash was full of flavour and very filling and the apple puree added a lovely hint of sweetness to this hearty autumnal dish.

The portions for the starter and main were so generous that I almost considered not having a dessert, but that moment of madness soon passed once I saw the menu. I ordered the pear and custard tart with vanilla ice cream and scorched meringue. Fran has a thing about chocolate brownies so couldn’t resist the double chocolate and hazelnut brownie served with vanilla ice cream, it certainly lived up to her exacting standards, it was glossy on top with a dense and fudgy centre, with the hazelnut pieces adding a lovely texture and crunch.

My pear and custard tart was delicious; the delicate pear flavour really came through and complimented the crisp buttery pastry and thick custard perfectly. The mini meringue was perfect, crisp on the outside with a slightly chewy centre; this dessert was lovely and the perfect way end to a wonderful meal.

It’s easy to see why The Huntsman of Little Wenlock has gained such a great reputation in recent years; it’s got the perfect combination of cosy country charm, friendly relaxed atmosphere and fantastic food. If you haven’t tried it yet, its well worth booking in to see for yourself and if you have been before then the arrival of the new chef Idris Hughes is a great reason for a return visit. I will definitely be back very soon to sample more from his delicious new menu.

Reviewed by Charlie Scott & Fran Davies

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