Who’s up for a country supper? Who the f*** knows what one is? Well, we’re going to invite Cam and that flame haired Medusa from Warrington to tell us. Because they’re obviously the experts. In the meantime, we’re jumping on that zeitgeist (skin crawling though it is) and celebrating the fact that we’ve got a brace of brilliant country pubs within an easy drive of Liverpool and the Wirral.
And, hey, it’s Father’s Day this weekend. So go treat your Dad with a country supper, and start planning a cosy, mutually beneficial back-stratching relationship. We can’t guarantee the free loan of police horses, but we can assure you of some hearty grub and a well poured pint.
We’re SevenStreets. We don’t want to run the country. But give us a nice fish pie and a pint of Robinson’s and we’re happy. And, with our recommendations, we trust you will be too.
After all, we’re all in this together. LOL. Air kiss. Etc.
The Sandpiper, Bickerstaffe
Roaring fires (handy in June around here), squishy leather sofas, chalkboard specials and rustic bric-a-brac by the verdigris-stained bucketful – the Sandpiper is a convivial bolt hole within striking distance of the city. Great roasts, fish pie, beef and ale pie and hearty puds. A newish addition to this peaceful corner of south Lancs (the Sandpiper was once a farm) this handsome huddle of rooms, flagstone floors and oak timbers is getting everything right.
A rambling old manor house alongside a lake (main pic), surrounded by mature woodland and – get this – a sit-on model railway. What more could you want? How about great food all day, fine cask ales, and smiley service. They’re all a given – even on the busiest days – at this border pub (hard to find, but worth tracking down – check the Google map kindly created by Andy Minnis, below). Go for the fig and blue cheese tart for starter, and the braised shoulder of lamb, or Chinese belly pork for mains.
Ring ‘o’ Bells, Christleton
It’s a bit bling (think jazzy fabric wing chairs, feature wallpaper and stacked up piles of logs destined never to see a roaring fire) but the drama doesn’t end with the design. The food’s pretty memorable too. Fabulous pizzas, fish dishes and wonderful roasts keep the faithful coming – as do the half dozen or so cask ales.
The Alvanley Arms, Tarporley
One of the region’s most dependable pubs within an easy drive from the Wirral, this 16th Century coaching inn offers a couple of rooms, a beer garden, duck pond and – increasingly rare when it comes to country pubs – a genuine independent flair. The Alvanley is still a family-run concern, serving hearty Cheshire pub grub such as Robinson’s beer battered fish and chips, plump sausages and mammoth Ploughman’s lunches.
The Goshawk, Mouldsworth
Tucked just behind Helsby hill, the stately Goshawk is an efficient, charming gastro pub with a list of chalkboard specials enough to warrant a regular excursion past the dark satanic mills of Stanlow or Rock Savage. Starters of chicken, chorizo, new potato and watercress salad, and mains such as Monkfish in parma ham or Thai green vegetable curry show a dependable hand in the kitchen. Best to book.
The Stanley Arms, Aughton
Conveniently located just off the busy A59, but nicely shielded by the village green, venerable old church and swaying sycamore trees, the Stanley is at the heart of the old Aughton village and remains a vibrant community pub first, and much-loved destination for those who want to escape the city for the afternoon. It’s a fuss-free place too: none of your fancy bells and whistles, just great, filling pub grub, friendly service and wonderful steak and kidney pie
Parr Arms, Grappenhall
Grappenhall’s a smashing little village just minutes away from the roundabouts and one-way hell of central Warrington. And with the Parr Arms, it’s got a belter of a pub to match. A canalside pub, it’s a popular spot with boaters and locals alike. Thick sliced Cheshire ham, Chilli nachos and no-nonsense, belt-testing, mixed grills make it worth braving the world beyond Ikea. And it’s hard to beat a pint of Robbies on a summer’s evening.