Whenever we travel around the UK, we always take with us our trusty AA Good Pub Guide - in 99% of cases there is a great pub within 20 minutes of most motorway junctions which find always worth the detour as for the same price as you pay for a limp sandwich and cardboard cup of coffee you can get a truly fabulous meal.
This last weekend, we travelled to visit our friends in Leominster (Herefordshire) and our route takes us through Shropshire down the A49 - a route we've taken many times. This year, there was a new addition to the 2012 pub guide - The Pound Inn at Leebotwood - a little village between Shrewsbury and Ludlow. We weren't scheduled to stop for dinner - but a combination of bad weather and worse traffic meant that our normal 4½ hour journey took us almost 7 hours so by the time we hit Shropshire we were starving so we pulled into the quite empty looking car park and checked out the menu. It and the newly refurbished pub looked fabulous and I am pleased to report that once again the pub guide did not let us down - this is a total gem of a place and will definitely be a regular stopping point for us on our visits to Leominster.
Now, this was a quick stop, we were running late to get to our friends, so we just opted for main courses. The waitress was efficient, helpful and really friendly and did point out that my choice would mean a wait of 25 to 30 minutes but I really wanted it so we decided to risk it (it actually came in 20 in the end but we appreciated the forewarning). My choice was butter poached free range chicken with butternut squash puree and a mustard butter sauce. There were vegetable extras on the menu but our waitress assured us our dishes came "fully garnished" and she was right, in addition to the items described on the menu my dish came with divine roast potatoes, broccoli, courgette and a delicious strip of crispy bacon. It was probably the tastiest piece of chicken I have ever eaten - the butter poaching providing a sweet succulence that I must try to recreate (or we have to move so we can eat it more often!)
My husband, predictably, went for the belly pork which was described as with a soy and honey glaze and apple relish. This came with the same delicious potatoes, carrots, broccoli and a rich red cabbage stew. The pork was succulent and the apple relish was a perfect accompaniment with a little sweetness but also a spike from thyme and some other subtle spicing. The cabbage may well be a little unseasonable for a normal June day, but as it was cold and wet on our visit, it was just perfect.
Our bill for both meals with a couple of soft drinks on the side came to a very reason £31! Now that'll beat a motorway service station any day of the week!
See you on our next visit - we may well become your farthest away regulars ;-)