The Pony & Trap - Chew Magna
A wintry Sunday at this time of year, how shall we spend it? I quite fancy the idea of settling into a cosy corner of a country pub and being served a traditional Sunday roast, which, I promise to walk off with Winnie later! But, where should I venture to for the ultimate roast, the kind that makes other diners turn their heads, enviously eyeing up what arrives to my table? How about The Pony & Trap, which is located in the quaint hamlet of Newtown, on the fringes of Chew Magna, just 8 miles from Bristol and 11 miles from Bath?
If you were 200 years old, it’s likely you would have a rich tapestry of stories to tell. Although I do not possess the knowledge to reveal any juicy, scandalous secrets of times gone by at The Pony & Trap, I do know that this delightful pub was formerly known as The Rising Sun. It was taken over in 2006 by Josh Eggleton, and his sister, Holly. As well as giving the pub a makeover, the Eggleton’s introduced a fine dining ethos, whilst simultaneously being mindful not to remove its relaxed atmosphere.
In 2011, Josh, aged just 27, won the restaurant a prestigious Michelin Star - he has successfully retained this accolade ever since. When Scott and I discovered that The Pony & Trap recently started serving a regular Sunday Roast Menu, which runs from 12pm - 6pm, we were intrigued to book a table and sample their cookery.
We made our reservation a few weeks in advance (given their reputation and popularity, they get fully booked, so I would suggest planning ahead if you have a particular date in mind). Arriving last Sunday afternoon, and after being blown in by a blustery, pesky wind, we were shown to our snug setting in the bar area.
Rather than ordering a jug of tap water for the table, we opted for a bottle of sparkling water with slices of fresh lime and cucumber - a game changer, I’m telling you! So refreshing and zingy, and a much more exciting thirst-quencher to accompany our meal. Scott ordered a glass of Romanian Pinot Noir to compliment his main.
The Sunday Roast Menu features two courses for £30, or, three for £35. We began with two starters; the ‘Duck Liver Parfait, Sourdough Toast and Pickles’, and, ‘Cured Salmon, Beetroot, Horseradish and Mushrooms’.
On the back of each menu is a list of all the local suppliers utilised in the dishes, so you can pinpoint the source of any of the ingredients you have on your plate. However, if your curiosity gets the better of you, you could always ask a member of the team who know the provenance of everything on the menu anyway. Their ethos is very much ‘field to fork’ - all of their fresh ingredients come from just across the valley, and, as they summarise; ‘the farmland around The Pony & Trap is an extension of our kitchens’.
You know you have found food heaven when you suddenly remember to look up to your dining companion, realising you have hardly exchanged words to one another since your dishes arrived to the table!
A thick wedge of perfectly toasted sourdough teamed with velvety smooth duck liver parfait and salty cornichons. Meanwhile, my beautifully cured fresh salmon paired with beetroot gel and horseradish cream was a deliciously light way to start off a Sunday Lunch.
Given the size of the dishes to come, we were thankful for a brief pause.
‘Roast Pork Belly, Onion Soubise, Apple Sauce and Roast Potatoes’ for myself. The pork belly was exceptionally tender and melt-in-the-mouth, and the golden crackling had that wholly satisfying crunch with not an ounce of moisture in sight. I will comment that my heart sank slightly when I took my first bite of the roast potatoes. Unfortunately, they had been sat in the pool of rich (actually too rich for my liking) gravy, and so their exterior was all a bit soggy and disappointing. I was banking on a perfectly crisp roastie, and, would have preferred to pour my own gravy so I could have swerved the potatoes too! However, aside from this, I happily enjoyed my main.
Next to me, Scott readied himself for a hearty feast of ‘Dry-Aged Roast Sirloin of Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Roast Potatoes’. You know I previously mentioned that I was on a bit of a culinary hunt for a show stopper Sunday roast? Well, here it is! If this triumphant Yorkshire pudding doesn’t have heads turning, then I don’t know what will!
To accompany both of our mains, our dishes arrived with bowls of ‘Cauliflower and Leek Cheese, Greens, Roast Shallots, Glazed Carrots and Bashed Swede’. Beautifully cooked, seasonal ingredients all singing from the sides!
Now positively groaning with full tummies, we were seconds away from asking for the bill. However, when our waiter arrived with the dessert menus, and presented them before us, just incase we had a little room left, we… Well, we didn’t have the space, but, how could we resist an ‘Apple and Raisin Crumble, Golden Guernsey Ice Cream’, and a ‘White Chocolate Cheesecake, Rhubarb, Crème Fraîche and Honey Ice Cream’?!
A delicious ending to our Sunday roast feast, and, although we left feeling fuller than we had planned, we were delighted to have sampled three fantastic courses each.
Now it’s time for you to tell me whether you have been before, and if so, what dishes you highly rated? Or, if you now plan to book a table for a Sunday lunch soon? If the latter, just be mindful to arrive on an empty stomach and pack your wellies in the boot for a walk before, or after!
By the time we bid farewell to our meal, it was sadly too dark to venture out on foot and find a good walking route, but, Winnie (and I!) soon enjoyed a long countryside stroll the following morning.
If you would like to find out more about The Pony & Trap, and, book a table, then please head on over here.