The Littleton Arms is an independent restaurant, pub and 10-bed boutique hotel right in the centre of the busy market town of Penkridge.
Food is served from the busy kitchen seven days a week, from 7:00 on weekdays and 8:00 at weekends, so there’s a menu for every occasion: breakfast, brunch, lunch, bar bites, and dinner.
The imposing whitewashed building dominates the crossroads at the heart of the town. Inside, the rustic character of the 17th century inn has been retained with painted panelling, exposed wooden beams and nods to its heritage, including a wall half-covered in horseshoes. There’s plenty of cosy leather and richly patinaed furniture to create a comfortable haven from the chill of the outdoors.
You’re invited to take a tall seat in the bar area or wait to be seated in one of the dining spaces. It takes a short while, but the welcome from the staff is warm, and they’re attentive and swift to take our orders once we’ve settled at the table.
Our visit coincides with the release of the new autumn menu, devised by The Littleton Arms’ head chef Will Dean. Many of the dishes show evidence of the close working partnership between the venue and quality local suppliers. So, for example, you can enjoy a 10oz pork tomahawk steak from Perry’s Butchers in Eccleshall, which is served with mustard and spring onion mash, fine beans, bramley apple sauce and melting cheddar with a cider gravy.
Other tempting autumnal dishes on the menu include pheasant breast with streaky bacon, a leg meat and potato croquette, cauliflower cheese purée, honey roasted parsnips, quince jelly and a red wine jus. For hearty appetites there’s also the game mixed grill – a decadent combination of seared venison loin, wild boar sausage, wrapped rabbit loins, seared pigeon breast, creamed savoy cabbage, garlic mash and baby carrot, also with red wine jus.
As it’s lunchtime when we visit, delicious as these dishes sound, we lean towards slightly lighter options. The seared seabass is a generous two fillets rather than the standard single piece of fish, and it sits atop a fragrant coconut and jasmine rice in a mild Thai red curry. The sweet mango salsa with tangy charred lime cuts through the creamy sauce well to produce a satisfying plate of food.
Meanwhile the sundried tomato and vegan mozzarella linguine harks back to the flavours of summer, with a fresh vegan pesto coating the well-cooked pasta. It is one of the vegan options, but is listed on the main menu rather than the separate vegan menu, perhaps to give you the chance to add crispy goat’s cheese, which we gladly do, or crispy calamari. The same goes for the Persian lentil and wholegrain rice risotto with pine nuts, saffron and toasted walnuts, to which you’re invited to add chicken supreme or duck ragù.
Whether you’re drinking or not there’s no shortage of options here, from Iron & Fire coffee and low or non-alcohol beers, to rotating ales on tap. There’s also an extensive cocktail menu and a range of premium spirits behind the bar, including Sun Bear’s naturally flavoured vodka and gin, as well as other local favourites like Hearts Distillery’s London dry gin.
All in all, this is a lovely Staffordshire pub where you can have a happy encounter with some traditional, delicious and filling fare this autumn.
The Littleton Arms
St Michael’s Square, Penkridge, ST19 5AL