We traversed the country lanes of rural East Staffordshire to find a friendly welcome in Hoar Cross at The Meynell Ingram.
The historic Staffordshire pub had been closed for over five years, reopening on 10 May. The building has been cleverly reconfigured by Berkeley Inns, who acquired it in November 2018. Now there are a series of distinct spaces around a central courtyard complete with parasols, heaters and a ‘living wall’ of plants.
The traditional country pub remains very much at its heart, but beyond that there’s a modern and elegant restaurant dining area, complete with immense bifold doors which let light stream in from the courtyard. There’s space for private dining in the Mirror Room. On the third side of the courtyard, Sam’s Bar is a relaxed space with flatscreens showing sports, a second bar, and a pizza oven. The outdoor space here will really come into its own this summer, with not only the enclosed courtyard to enjoy, but beautifully planted gardens and patios to the side and rear of the pub.
Tom Cross has moved over from The Cow at Dalbury to take up the position of general manager at The Meynell, where he leads a team of professional and personable front of house staff clad in red and black plaid. Behind the scenes in the kitchen, the brigade is headed up by Colin Ansell, who joins the Meynell from a 10 year stint as head chef at Pascal’s at The Old Vicarage.
The bistro-style à la carte menu caters to many different tastes, featuring pub classics with a fine dining twist to Mediterranean inspired dishes. There are nibbles and sharing platters if you’re looking for something lighter, and freshly baked pizza for those long summer evenings.
To start, we opt for the steak tartare made with Staffordshire beef, which holds its own comfortably, and the heritage tomato with goat’s cheese, prosciutto, avocado and sourdough croutons – perfectly balanced in terms of acidity, creaminess and crunch.
In the spirit of adapting with the seasons, we order the Thai beef salad bowl and ras el hanout spiced chump of lamb for the main course. The salad is packed with fresh veg – bean sprouts, spring onions, shallots, cucumber – and fresh flavours from the basil, mint, coriander, lime and soy-sesame dressing. It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish that’s still light and summery. The tender pink lamb has a delicious spicy crust and the couscous is laced with tiny pieces of sweet apricot and flavoursome herbs. The zingy tzatziki lifts the rich meat with its sourness.
If it’s sumptuous desserts you’re into, you won’t be disappointed here. The raspberry crème brûlée, served with the pastry chef’s beautifully short shortbread, is a delight, but we’re slightly over-faced by the decadent Meynell Mess – a bowl of ice cream, fudge, brownie, seasonal fruit, coulis and marshmallow that is definitely made for sharing!
Berkeley Inns Ltd currently operate four other rural and semi-rural pubs in Derbyshire. This is the group’s first foray into Staffordshire, and if our experience is anything to go by it looks set to be a fantastic success.
The Meynell Ingram Arms
Abbots Bromley Road, Hoar Cross, DE13 8RB