Monday 29 December 2014

The Wheatsheaf, Old Glossop: a Review

It snowed yesterday (Saturday). Of course, where I reside in south-west Manchester snow rarely lasts, as the climate is too mild. Fortunately we are only a few miles from the Pennines, the so-called backbone of England. The journey towards the High Peak of Derbyshire was enchanting as the sky shone down from a perfectly azure sky turning the scenery into one gigantic piece of jewellry, dazzling with opals and diamonds.

[Image description: the pub cum restaurant's front façade; © The Wheatsheaf]

My companion, my assistant for the day, and I had set course for Glossop to meet an old, mutual chum. I could find no mention on Tripadvisor so had to look elsewhere. Google’s top recommendation for lunch on a Sunday, with 4.8 out of 5, is The Wheatsheaf situated close to the parish church in the conservation area of Old Glossop. We were greeted warmly by the family-run and family-friendly staff. Service throughout the repast was affable and for the most part efficient (and for those of us into redheads, an absolute æsthetic delight!).  The village pub cum restaurant is not only popular with locals but also with the many walkers that pass through to or from hikes on the high hills. Lunch on a Sunday is served from midday till eight in the evening (food last orders).

We arrived at one to find the place fairly empty; ninety minutes later there was not a seat to be had and standing-room only at the bar. There were families with babies/toddlers, retired couples, groups of young mates, a couple of gay chaps, middle-class posh car types, walkers in their paraphernalia, as well as locals. This rather suggests a place with an all-round good reputation. Our friend had dined there several times on previous occasions and pointed out that we would not be disappointed.

A warning for those allergic to pet hair: the pub allows dogs in the bar area, though I saw none in the eating side.

I tucked into a hearty sunday luncheon of half a dozen large and succulent slices of Mettricks' ‘High Peak’ (the local reared high hill) lamb with roasties (roast potatoes), Yorkshire pudding, and dark, thick gravy served with a side-dish of juliennes of tasty and unblemished orange carrots with florets of cauliflower and broccoli. This I washed down with a pint of Wren’s Nest (which I later discovered is brewed quite literally round the corner at Howard Town Brewery), a real ale (artisan-created as opposed to mass-produced), with a pale amber hue, a mild flavour and an oh-so-smooth texture. The beer’s flavour complemented the nutty flavour of the lamb just so.

[Image description: a bottle of Wren's Nest; © Howard Town Brewery]

For dessert, I selected home-made bread-and-butter pudding and opted for the custard accompaniment (one could also have chosen, cream or ice-cream). The pudding was laced with raisins and glacé cherries, so it may have been constructed from panettone slices. Whatever, it was totally delicious. The little jug of piping-hot custard was thick and the right side of lumpy - exactly the way I like it. Interestingly, the barman-cum-waiter (a very fetching ginger!) expected me to select custard. I wonder whether he is a fellow custard-lover! To accompany the sweet, I opted for a black coffee. There was no hint of bitterness; indeed, the blend was naturally sweet and mild; spot on with the creaminess of the bread-and-butter pudding.

A little aside here: I hate it when one orders black coffee and end up with a stained cup; the bowl in this instance was spotless, save for a few drops of the caffeinated nectar I was unable to swallow. Clean crockery! And on the subject of cleanliness, the cutlery was not watermarked - which either means the kitchen had a very expensive dishwasher or the knives, forks and spoons had been polished post-washing. The table too lacked any kind of stickiness or food detritus; neither did the menus, which also had nary a trace of residue on the covers nor on the laminated pages.

This might also be the appropriate juncture to point out the pristine state of the gents’ WCs. The sanitary-ware was unmarked and there was no malodorous aroma in the urinal area. The floor was clean and dry. There was pump-dispensed soap by the sink. And, although the hand-dryer was kaput, a supply of paper-towels and a table-top bin for the soiled ones had been conveniently placed near the wash-basin. I could not see a disabled convenience (I later determined there is not one) and there was no hand-rail down/up the two steps to/from the gents and the ladies. However, they were shallow in depth and there was a handy ledge above the dado-rails either side of the steps upon which I was able to lean to aid supporting myself.

The bill came to just under sixty pounds (£60), which for two courses apiece and five drinks (including two that were alcoholic) was a very reasonable price.

Despite being packed out, we were not rushed nor made to feel that we needed to vacate our table.

I certainly would return for a meal in the future and recommend The Wheatsheaf to my regular readers.

[Image description: post-prandial stroll down Church St. South,
the parish church to the right]

"Irene's home cooking with Bobs passion for meat have made The Wheatsheaf Steakhouse dining room the No 1 Pub in the Glossop area for quality food."

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