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A super lunch at the Staunton Arms, Vale of Belvoir.

Just had a fabulous pub lunch and felt the need to share the joy. This is a not a Sunday Lunch you understand – as that’s a whole other kettle of fish, as you know. In fact it was a Wednesday lunch and bloody good too.

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We drove out to the delightful Staunton Arms in the beautiful Vale of Belvoir, we drove out because I can’t imagine there is really any other way to get there, I didn’t spot a bus, but one might exist. The Staunton Arms is certainly rural.

I was recommended to try this – always a risk I find – but I was not disappointed. It is a 200 year old pub in a listed building in a small, what would you call it? probably hamlet rather than village, surrounded by rolling countryside. The weather was kind to us and we sat outside. It was busy, we only just found a parking space so full was it and I am glad we made reservations as the place was bustling (in a good way, I hasten to add). There appeared to be only one guy front of house which made me think that perhaps they had experienced an unexpected rush of customers due the clement weather, but apparently not, when we asked our server if this was unusual for a Wednesday lunch, his reply was “standard”. Okaayy, we discovered as lunch went on, he was perfectly polite but he was a man of a few well chosen words…

The pub has several menus, “lite bites” and daily specials and an a la carte. From this I chose the Crab Croquette with samphire, chilli and a spring onion broth with micro coriander. It was very good indeed, great texture, great flavours and contrasts, just enough chilli but not too much to kill the delicate flavour of the crab. It was also huge, I was wondering if I would get through my mains.

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FWH went with the Local Beetroot frittata, creamed goat’s cheese, textures of beetroot and pea shoots. I’m not a big beetroot fan (nor of goat’s cheese) it has to be said. As the FWH was raised, so he tells me (but he tells me all sorts) on beetroot sandwiches (I cannot imagine, frankly) he considers himself something of an expert and was very happy indeed with his starter.

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For mains, I went with the crispy skinned chicken breast with charred baby gem, garlic crispbread, parmesan shavings, parmesan puree and tempura anchovy. This was so good, a pretty salty combination for those thinking blood pressure, but I loved it, I find so much food is under seasoned now in pursuit of the “healthy” (but tasteless) option. And deep fried anchovies – what a bloody revelation they were. Never had them before, loved them. Before I had known the size of the starter I asked what the chicken came with…. the server tells me “What is says on the menu” (perfectly politely) and I thought yeah, perhaps it was a bit of a stupid question, however, there were sides listed so I went with the salad (couldn’t possibly eat it and it would have added nothing to this great dish, so I took it home for supper).

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FWH went with the soy and chilli glazed pork belly with Pak Choi, radish and spring greens, honey and hoisin dressing and sesame seeds. This was a beautiful, sweet and sticky dish with perfectly cooked meat. The side of home-cooked fries (yes, I did say to the FWH that chips didn’t belong with this dish at all, but they were cooked in beef dripping and he was blind to any culinary advice after that) also came home with us as they couldn’t be finished (and he fried them again for supper…).

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We had no room for puddings but I can only assume they would have been as good as the rest of the meal. Reasonably priced and superb pub food are not phrases often seen in the same sentence but in this case it applies. Despite our server being rather succinct, he was nonetheless lovely – efficient and perfectly polite (We have now added the word “standard” to our lexicon eg “How was your day dear?” “Standard”) and he coped admirably and efficiently with the busy service.

The food was great, the setting very pleasant and all in all a really good experience. Fab pub.

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