Today we went out to lunch with some friends.
Last time we went to lunch with them, which was the first time we had ever been to lunch with them (and the first time I had met them), Oscar had a totally unexpected melt down, and wet his pants right in the middle of their lounge floor just before we set off to the restaurant. He piddled so much and with such vigour that we had to borrow an entire set of clothes from their son, and his shoes were squelching.
Not only that but he then proceeded to have full on hysterics for half an hour and refused to be unclamped from my neck for the twenty minute walk to the restaurant.
You can imagine that I was slightly trepidatious about our follow up visit, particularly given that the girls were coming with us this time, and melting down in public is usually Tallulah’s job.
As they bickered and squabbled in the car on the way there, and my stomach griped and grumbled under the blanket of pain killers, I confess to feeling quite reluctant about going to lunch. This is not normally a sentence you will hear from me. I was rather glum.
My mood picked up as we swept through the glorious countryside. We had, of course, woken to rain, but it had cleared up to let the sun through, albeit amongst inky clouds and storm threatened skies. This only served to highlight the beauty of the surroundings though, as the light was that super saturated, filmic light that gives everything a little touch of gold.
We were driving through the Vale of Belvoir (pronounced beaver), an area of countryside about forty minutes from here, between Melton Mowbray and Nottingham. It is stunning.
The pub we went to was in a little village called Woolsthorpe, about three miles from Belvoir Castle. I’ve never been to the castle. It’s something I intend to rectify this summer. It is so splendid to look at, it must be worth a visit.
Plus, if we go there I might be able to sneak in another visit to the pub we visited today. It’s called The Chequers Inn, and it was fantastic.
Fantastic despite the sign on the door which really, really got my hackles up as we entered:
It never fails to irk me when business owners equate animal ownership with having children.
Nevertheless, once we got inside, the staff were unfailingly polite, friendly and attentive, and extremely welcoming to the children, and the entire experience was a total pleasure.
They have a simple Sunday menu of half a dozen starters and main courses for £13.95 a head for the two courses, or £8.95 for the children’s versions. If your child doesn’t want a starter they will do a main and a dessert instead.
We all opted for starters and mains. The children impressed me thoroughly. Oscar had parma ham for his starter, followed by roast chicken and all the trimmings. Tallulah had smoked salmon with brown bread and butter, followed by roast beef and all the trimmings. Tilly had deep fried halloumi and then the beef.
This was the halloumi, beautifully presented.
Before our food came we were served with a basket of warm bread rolls stuffed with sun flower seeds and pats of salted butter.
I had prawn cocktail (I love prawn cocktail), which had a generous amount of prawns, an extremely tasty sauce, properly crunchy lettuce and thin slices of brown bread and butter.
I followed it with pan fried black cod with roasted potato and beetroot and a salad made interesting with a zingy, orange dressing.
The portions were substantial. Here, for example, is the beef:
You had to pay a £3.95 supplement if you wanted the beef, but you can see why. The Yorkshires alone would feed a family of five, and that was before you added the substantial amounts of veg that were on offer, which we could have had replenished had we run out.
The food was hot, the service was excellent and the ingredients were top quality.
We were so impressed, that even though we had eaten our fill, we decided it would be extremely rude not to test the puddings. The children all had home made ice cream, of which there were about fifteen flavours to choose from. Jason had sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce (and licked the plate clean), and the rest of us had strawberry Eton mess.
It might not look much, but this portion was both extremely generous, and entirely delicious.
Not only was it a fantastic meal, but none of the children melted down, nobody filled their shoes with wee, and everyone got along beautifully. So beautifully that we went back to our friends’ house, and sat in the new conservatory, chatting and soaking up the last rays of the afternoon sun while the children played and Sunday went as Sunday’s should, soporifically and full bellied into the evening.