As it was our anniversary today, but also our last day of our long weekend off so work in the morning, we decided to celebrate with a nice lunch out rather than a big meal this evening.
After much deliberations and searching in the pub guides for somewhere decent that wasn't a long drive away we drew a blank - have a look in the Good Pub Guide under South Yorkshire and you'll see why its such an issue - if we looked at the foodie map of Britain as a weather map - we're certainly in a depression......
So we decided to head out to try the Wortley Arms, a pub about 15 minutes drive in the little village of Wortley (now there's a surprise!) It had a redesign a few years ago under Chef Andy Gabbitas who previously did private catering for Margaret Thatcher and John Major amongst other high profile clients but this was our first visit as we'd heard conflicting reports about the place so had been slightly put off.
It was a quiet lunch service, at one point we had the whole pub to ourselves, but then, what can expect in the sticks on a Tuesday afternoon! However, this wasn't a reflection of the place, the food or the service - all of which were excellent. The waitress was knowledgeable, efficient and well versed in the skills so often lacking in restaurant staff - knowing where to draw the line between being around to see what we needed but not "hanging around" and making us feel uncomfortable in an empty restaurant. I do so hate staff who constantly check and fuss but she was in and out with a simple "everything OK" within seconds! Those that carry on conversations with their colleagues whilst ignoring you are an equal bug bear but no such issue here.
The food, was far more inspiring than the menu on the website, which as it says, does change regularly. In addition they had a blackboard of amazing sounding sandwiches (we'll be back to try those soon) and specials. We began with one of the specials - a ham hock terrine with homemade piccalilli and the soup of the day (that was the only slip up - we were told it was watercress and potato when we got the menus but when we ordered she came back immediately to say sorry, it was actually tomato!) Both were delicious as was the homemade bread that came with them. The piccalilli was particularly good and very sharp and spiky, just to my liking, and a perfect foil to the rich ham. Sorry forgot to photograph them - we were really hungry so tucked straight in!
For mains, we both went for the specials - I opted for the tuna steak with crushed new potatoes, green beans and, surprisingly to me, a peppercorn sauce. This did seem a strange sauce to serve with fish but I have to say it is one I will be replicating as it was delicious and worked brilliantly. The fish was huge, really fresh and cooked perfectly to my liking - just pink but not to rare, just as I asked.
My husband opted for duck - he almost always does if its available as its one of the few things I never cook for him as I don't really care for it. This was duck two ways, duck breast on a bed of spring cabbage with confit duck leg and potato croquettes with a chicory tart tatin and a reduced red wine sauce. Here was my second revelation of the day - chicory CAN taste delicious! I've only tried it once before and found it bitter and unappetising - this light little tart (top right) however was amazing - it had a gentle apple character beneath the savory notes and worked perfectly with the rich duck. The croquettes were also totally delicious (so was the duck apparently!)
We opted not to have dessert on this occasion as two rather substantial courses was enough for lunch, but the dessert menu did look equally exciting and we'll definitely be going back to try that, and the restaurant upstairs VERY soon.