Sometimes I think I expect too much from restaurants – maybe they bring it on themselves, maybe it’s the setting, maybe I just have high standards.
The Plough and Flail in Mobberly, Cheshire is set in the middle of sparrow laden hedgerows, lush fields and picturesque villages; stepping in, you’re surrounded by light wood, slate floors, exposed brick and comfy cushions. There’s also a wine cube, a special room for all their amazing stock of wine and their food is all locally sourced and seasonal.
On paper this is somewhere I’m going to love – commitment to local sourcing, drinks I’ll actually enjoy drinking, natural materials and period features, all set in an idyllic setting.
It’s just that the meal wasn’t quite right – it was almost a meal of two halves. The pâté for the starter was bland and livery, tasting as if it was bought in. However t’boy’s homemade hash brown and poached egg was a salty, crunchy, carby delight and the egg was cooked spot on – dribbling warm orange juices all over the hash, softening up the palate and just generally scrummy.
Pheasant three ways was dry, stringy and tasteless bar the cute little pie; however this was horrendously salty and drowned out any other taste and was more pastry than filling. The dish was served with a scoop of lumpy mash potato (yes, an actual ice cream scoop, see picture) and some chopped carrots – very school dinner and not at all appetising.
Again t’boy scored with his Gressingham duck – pink, soft, sweet and absolutely cooked to perfection, it also looked beautiful on the plate and tasted pretty much like that too.
Would t’boy score a hat trick? He did indeed with a buttery, crunchy, sweetly sharp berry crumble. Gorgeous and generous I was left eating my overly lemony treacle tart with a lump in my throat – and that wasn’t just from heavy pastry under the custardy lemony filling I was swallowing. I appreciate a treacle tart needs a lemon tang to lift it up, however I’m sure this was actually just a lemon tart masquerading on the menu as treacle. I can only presume they a) ran out of treacle and thought I wouldn’t notice b) have a confused chef that isn’t quite au fait with the differences or c) were sent a wrongly marked lemon tart from the catering company they use.
How a meal eaten by two people on one table can be so different for the parties involved, I don’t know – the skill, balance, cookery, look and taste of our dishes was so far removed that we could have been eating at different restaurants. Having sampled (a lot) of t’boy’s meal I know it wasn’t just my conceptions – he had some absolutely belting dishes and I, to use modern parlance, ‘lucked out.’
If The Plough and Flail can bring the quality of all their dishes up to the same considerably high bar that they so obviously are capable of, then it would become the country idyll pub I’d originally imagined it to be.
Price for two starters, two mains, two puddings and two beers –
Food – 7/10 (6/10 for mine and 8/10 for t’boy’s)
Atmosphere – 8/10
Service – 6/10 (we struggled to catch peoples’ eyes as they whizzed past)
Value for money – 7/10
Total – 28/40
Go again? If my meal could be as good as t’boy’s, then yes, but as the food quality is variable I’d only go again if I was in the area.