MANY people start the new year determined to cut back on what they eat, and trying and shed some excess pounds. Not me.
I decided to try and banish those January blues by taking myself over to The Sitwell Arms at Renishaw (not to be confused with The Sitwell Arms at Whiston) for a spot of lunch.
You’re spoilt for choice as soon as you get to The Sitwell Arms – you can choose to dine in the Wild Boar Restuarant, or opt, as I did, for the more informal surrounds of the Lounge Bar.
I grabbed a menu off the bar and found myself a snug little corner by the window to sit in while I considered my options.
I was struck immediately by the aura and mood of the Lounge Bar. It is a very traditional bar room, some would say old fashioned, complete with patterned carpets and wallpaper, and wooden tables and bar stools, a couple of gaming machines.
After some deliberation I opted for the combo (£4.55) for my starter and beef and ale pie (£8.95) for my main.
The combo starter comes in two sizes - single and double - so by ordering the single I was confident I’d have plenty of room left afterwards for the pie.
But once the combo was brought to my table that confidence soon evaporated. What was brought to me was a main in itself.
A full-sized plate piled high with tasty nosh. The combo comprises – a mini rack of ribs, buffalo wings, garlic dough balls, onion rings, crispy mushrooms, and potato wedges, served with small pots each containing generous amounts of garlic mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and sweet chilli sauce. And remember, that this was just the starter.
I am a man of considerable appetite but even I, at this point, was feeling ever so slightly uneasy at the sheer magnitude of the task that awaited me – I had to eat this whole platter AND then follow it up with pie, chips and peas.
My task was made all the more harder by the ribs. These were no pesky little ribs that were all bone and no meat. The rib bones were wrapped in a surfeit of succulent and juicy pork that fell off the bone effortlessly. The rest of the combo was good too – proving to be quality as well as quantity.
After a quick, and much needed breather, the beef and ale pie, with chips and peas was brought before me. Not only that but a whole gravy boat full of rich, thick, meaty, piping hot gravy.
Then the first negative of my lunch at The Sitwell Arms’ Lounge Bar. For some reason the pastry lid of the pie was hard like a biscuit.
Undeterred, I put the pastry to one side and ploughed on, the chips were good, the peas were peas, and the contents of the pie were luxuriantly rich and full of great flavour.
But, in the end, I had to admit defeat – just four or five chips short of the finish line.
Pastry aside, my lunch at The Sitwell Arms Lounge Bar was time very well spent. The whole lot came to £16 – which considering the vast quantity, as well as the quality of the food I had and the fact I washed it all down with a pint of something cold and fizzy, was excellent value for money indeed. I shall be returning.
by Ben Green
star rating HHHH