Review: Sunday lunch at The Barn at Pidley, Cambs

The Barn Pidley Review by NICK MARKWELL

I’VE eaten a lot of roast dinners in all manner of pubs and restaurants and have never found one as good as I can cook at home. The problem is usually the roast potatoes, they are either undercooked and hard, or roasted to within an inch of their lives, and for me, the spuds are what I’m there for.

I’d heard a lot about The Barn at Pidley, and the whispers were all complimentary. On arrival, we found a modern take on a barn conversion that although not spectacular from the outside, sung of rustic charm on the inside. The mezzanine floor has a stunning chimney stack which rises from its centre like the sail of a ship and the oak beams create a perfect frame for the well-proportioned tables.

We stopped at the bar and I ordered a bottle of Aspalls, but there was the choice of Calvors Suffolk lager on tap and a decent wine list with prices starting in the early teens, with many sold by the glass.

We were seated at a large table, overlooking the bar area, the restaurant was about half full, although business picked up as the one o’clock crowds filtered in for their lunch.

The staff were friendly and unobtrusive, which is how it should be for a relaxed Sunday lunch.

We declined the bread that was offered and went straight for the starter.

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I had the pork terrine with gooseberry pickle. This was a lovely dish, a slab of rich porky pate with toasted brioche and a tart gooseberry jam on the side. It worked really well, and it is so nice to see the gooseberry being used outside of the pudding course, it’s such an underrated fruit, the acidity is suited to all sorts of rich meat and fish.

Paula had the spiced mackerel on fennel coleslaw. The mackerel was plump and juicy but the spices were a little bit too subtle for my tastes. The fish went well with the fennel flavours but there was a lack of spice to the dish, which was a shame.

So, on to the main attraction, the roast. We both plumped for the Hereford Beef roast and when it arrived, it all looked good.

The beef was lovely and rare and there was plenty of gravy. The potatoes looked decent but where was the rest of the vegetables? We had a saucer full between us and apparently that was all we were getting!

We set about the beef, which was really good, I think it was topside, and it had the proper beefy taste and nice texture. The potatoes were a mixed bag, one of mine was as big as the Yorkshire pudding and had not been cooked through, leaving it heavy, the other was great, one of the best I have had in a pub, crispy outside, fluffy inside.

We ploughed through our main courses but decided to go for an ice cream on the way home as opposed to a dessert.

It’s difficult to get the full picture of a chef’s ability when you order the roast, but what we ate was good and enough to make me want to come back and try the dinner menu.

We paid �40 for two including a tip and came away feeling that we had had value for money.