Last weekend we took a trip away to Mid-Wales for the other half’s birthday, staying at the Drawing Room in the Elan Valley (on Rebecca’s recommendation) over the Friday and Saturday evening’s. As it’s somewhat of a tradition for us to head out for Sunday lunch somewhere new at least twice a month we wanted to add this into our weekend somehow. We have tried almost every decent gastro-pub across Lancashire and Cheshire in our quest for the best Sunday Lunch, so after reading with interest in Red magazine about the Lion and Pheasant in Shrewsbury we added in a short stop on our way home to the Ribble Valley.
And boy are we glad we did!
The Lion + Pheasant, a pub with 22 rooms and a Mr & Mrs Smith property, is a stunning conversion from coaching inn to stylish townhouse with a scandi-chic meets colonial New England interior. The Farrow and Ball-esque grey painted walls sit perfectly alongside pale oak and flagstone flooring with mismatched wooden furniture and industrial tolix chairs and stools creating a stylish yet laidback space. From the entrance on Wyle Cop we were greeted by a light and bright open-plan bar and reception area, where there is a wide variety of seating on offer from long dining tables to sofa’s and comfortable little nooks for two. Every aspect of the interior feels well thought-out with many clever designer touches that I loved, like the mason jar lighting over the bar area and the simple Christmas decor of holly branches in clear glass vases. The hotel was actually remodelled by Rachael Chidlow of Paul Keogh Architects who is related to the owner and it is quite evident there has been a professional design-hand at work here.
We chose to dine in the buzzy bar area instead of the more formal split-level restaurant space upstairs, inviting as it was dressed with crisp white linens and gleaming glassware. We had a lovely long table to ourselves tucked away in a corner by the bar offering some privacy but still feeling part of the action. There’s also an inglenook, open-log fireplace in the bar area, perfect for enjoying a mulled wine (or three!) on long, lazy winter-days.
Images by: Steve de Jetley Marks via Mr & Mrs Smith
The cocktail list was incredibly enticing, with seasonal variations of the classics on offer, I plumped for a Pear and Port fizz whilst the other half stuck with his standard Peroni. Despite arriving over an hour early for our reservation the staff could not have been more helpful and accommodating, seating us straight away.
Head chef Matthew Strefford has been awarded two AA rosettes for his outstanding and innovative dishes. We plumped for the traditional Sunday lunch menu and I wished we’d not spent the last two days stuffing our faces so I could try the full 3-courses on offer. The Mr opted for a root vegetable soup with creme fraiche, served with a basket of different breads which I helped him to mop up, the soup was perfectly spiced with the delicate creme fraiche and chives adding an unexpected yet delightful twist. We also both chose the Rib of Beef next with all the trimmings which included perfectly fluffy roast potatoes, caramelised whole carrots and parsnips with a delicious meaty gravy and of course crisp yorkshire puddings. The meat was served pink, which our waitress checked was okay for us, and it literally melted in the mouth. One of the best Sunday roasts I’ve tasted in a while – also on offer was belly of pork and turkey (given the proximity to Christmas). The wine list was extensive with both standard, purse-friendly options through to the more extravagant. A glass or two of cassis-rich Cabernet Sauvignon was the perfect partner to our lunch.
The dessert choices were mouthwatering to say the least with treacle tart, orange cake and many other delights on offer. Our waitress insisted we could still order after resting for a while, despite the fact the kitchen stopped service at 3.00pm and it was now some way past that – another little tick in the goodbooks and so refreshing against other establishments and their ridiculous ‘rules that cannot be bent’. Alas it was not to be I’m afraid, I just could not fit it in….a reason to go back if ever there was one! The other half however had room for more and chose a cheeseboard which came with 6 delicious cheeses, a variety of artisan crackers, celery, walnuts and a slab of quince, all served up on a wooden cheeseboard and cleverly delivered to our table with two plates so we could share. And I can confirm every bit as delicious as the other two courses, I managed to squeeze in a few mouthfuls, much to the Mr’s disgust (hates sharing food!).
As a pub with rooms these guys have hit the nail on the head, combining superbly warm hospitality with delicious, flavoursome food and stylish yet unpretentious surroundings.
Whilst there we had a little walk around Shrewsbury itself, meandering the olde worlde streets filled with independent boutiques and historic buildings. Unfortunately for us most of the shops were shut but I quite quickly determined this was a place I could easily spend hours having a good old browse. Some of the shops that caught my eye included:
- Urban Folk – Hidden down an alleyway off Wyle Cop is this really quirky and creative shop with design-led gifts and accessories
- Rustic and White – a beautiful French Vintage shop, selling home accessories @RusticandWhite
- Vintage Shrewsbury – A shop that celebrates good ‘old-fashioned’ design
- Appleyards Fine Foods – Located on Wyle Cop – luckily for us this one WAS open and it’s fair to say I was like a kid in a candy shop. A totally traditional deli packed to the rafters with gourmet fine foods. We stocked up on stinky cheeses for Christmas.
It’s fair to say we fell a little in love with our short visit to Shrewsbury and the Lion and Pheasant and will definitely be adding it to our hitlist of places to visit again to stay for a weekend in the future.
So readers have you been here? or do you have other recommendations of similar places to try across the UK?