[Wrinehill, Cheshire] Hand & Trumpet
Generally speaking, I’m quite a fan of the food at Brunning & Price pubs. It’s reliable, if unexciting, pub food. You can expect to get a decent lunch in pleasant pubby surroundings with decent local beers for those who drink. So, it’s always a bit peeving when something doesn’t quite hit the mark. And somewhat gob-smacking when lunch turns out to be piss-poor. Like today’s return visit (I was last here in May 2013) – both visits after a trip to the nearby Bridgemere Garden Centre, the largest in Europe I believe.
There was a salad starter. Advertised as char siu pork, noodles, beansprouts, wilted bok choi, it was really just a heap of undressed rocket with a scattering of beansprouts, cashews and a few noodles. I played hunt the pork for a while (stop tittering at the back) and eventually found a couple of the thinnest of thin slices coated in a sweet gloop that was, presumably, the “oriental glaze”.
There was more sweet gloop coating my generous portion of chicken (breast and leg). Possibly a different sweet gloop as this was creole spiced gloop. There was very claggy rice & peas. And another big handful of rocket, this time mixed with pineapple and slivers of coconut. Most oddly, there was also a little dish of butternut squash puree served separately. It served no purpose that I could even speculate about. So, a plate of food drawing on many cuisines – none of them done well.
I should have done what Mrs H did and just order the burger. Big tasty patty, topped with cheddar & bacon. Bun that didn’t start to fall apart till near the end. Coleslaw & chips to accompany. Decent job!
I believe it's still operated pretty much as a stand-alone business (although you can never be entirely stand-alone if youre part of a group.).
One of the things I particularly like is that each pub manager is allowed to run his business as a profit centre and, in food aspects, each pub can design its own menu and, to some extent at least, source their own suppliers. They can do similar with they beer they stock. Means you havnt got a "chain" menu - although there must be some sort of central guidance because there are some dishes you will always find on a B & P menu - a burger, a braised lamb dish, ploughmans - although the detail of the actual dishes will vary.
Leaving yesterday's disaster behind, I havnt noticed any drop off in standards over the years since the sell-out. And I suspect the freedom they give to the individual pubs has meant that the buy-out of a smallish chain in the south has been relatively easy to bring those pubs into the B&P group.
Not adding any value here, but the above sounds truly terrifying.
Not quite "Bucksburn chain pub carvery" level terrifying (also known as Bucksburn Manor or more simply the worst meal of 2013) but not terribly far off. At least a horrid salt strewn carvery which was virtually inedible is priced at about £4 and has a far lower chance of inexplicable juxtapositions involving rocket and pineapple.
Relieved to note that my meal here was definitely a glitch. Just back from our nearest B & P pub (Bull's Head at Mottram St Andrew).
Good six plates of food. Me - smoked duck salad, braised lamb shoulder, lemon tart & raspberry ripple ice cream. She - spicy tomato soup, smoked mackerel rarebit, ice cream. Actually nine good plates but I don't usually comment on the food guests/friends/family have eaten.