Michelin’s Latest Pub Eating Guide Hits the Streets
There’s no denying Michelin makes a good tyre, but unfortunately they don’t taste so good. So it’s just as well the tyre major has released the 2009 Michelin’s Eating Out in Pubs guide. Launched on September 3 and priced at £14.99, this is a publication worth studying before deciding upon a place to whet your palate.
This year’s guide includes 563 of the best pubs serving good food in the UK and Ireland and of these, 84 are new additions. Also included is the 2009 Michelin Pub of the Year, The Punch Bowl Inn, Crosthwaite, Cumbria. The guide is divided into regions and counties, and each region is preceded by a brief overview of that area followed by a map showing the location of each pub – a great boon when planning a holiday, and equally helpful for those with no sense of direction.
Every pub has a full page entry with a colour picture and descriptive text giving an insight into its character. Other essential information includes contact information, opening times, location, prices, typical dishes and, perhaps most importantly, the beer they serve. All the pubs in the guide have been selected for the quality of their cooking. However, a number of these establishments deserve a special mention as they boast at least one extra quality that makes them particularly special. This could be the delightful setting, the charm and character, the excellent service, the overall value for money offered or the exceptional cooking. To help identify these we highlight them with our inspectors’ favourites Bibendum stamp. There are 110 of them in this year’s guide.
Commenting on the evolution of pub food and its rise in popularity, Derek Bulmer, the guide’s editor said: “The standard of cooking in British and Irish pubs keeps getting better and better. We are seeing a growing confidence in our culinary heritage, greater use of local, seasonal ingredients and a rediscovery of regional specialities.”
As for the Punch Bowl Inn, among the 563 entries in this year’s guide – all of which serve great food – what is it that singles this premises out? Take one attractive stone pub in a delightful rural setting; mix in characterful interior features and smart homely furnishings; add a large spoonful of community spirit and a splash of home-brewed beer; throw in some excellent local produce and great classical cooking; and finally top-off with a generous handful of luxury accommodation. Et voilà.
The guide’s vigilant inspectors identified several charming areas: a pleasant decked terrace; three delightful bar rooms with open fires and squashy sofas; a dining room with leather chairs and polished tables; and a snug sitting room ideal for afternoon tea. The mood is relaxed and comfortable. Four local ales are on offer – including their home-brewed ‘Tag Lag’ – and there’s an extensive selection of wines by the glass. In addition, every dish at dinner has a recommended wine to accompany it.
Cooking at the Punch Bowl Inn is classical, seasonal and relies on local produce. The extensive menu ranges from open sandwiches to full three-course meals at lunchtime, while in the evening it becomes a more substantial, gutsy affair. The baked cheese soufflé is something of a speciality and, coming complete with its own menu, the strictly regional cheese selection is an experience in itself. If it’s fine dining without pretension you’re after, Michelin says this is definitely the place to find it.