The Chequers of Weston
Caroline Bingham headed to South Holland, where local ownership has established The Chequers of Weston as not only a destination fine dining venue but also a hub for community events.
Robert Oldershaw and his business partner John Grimwood purchased The Chequers three years ago and under the management of Robyn Howells and Will Vernon, who is also the head chef, the pub has been given a new lease of life.
We visited on a Friday evening and rather than head left into the bar we turned right and joined other early diners seated in the restaurant.
The Chequers was extensively refurbished prior to the purchase and Robyn has introduced warm raspberry highlights in the décor, placemats and napkins to contrast with the wood and exposed brickwork throughout the interior. Some walls are hung with original paintings by a local artist, which caught my eye for their beautiful portrayal of local landscapes.
A special Gourmet Set Menu is available every Friday evening as well as the Evening Menu available throughout the week. I decided to choose from the former while my daughter, who was accompanying me, chose from the latter.
Robyn and Will have a wealth of experience within the hospitality and restaurant industry, having worked at The Olive Branch at Clipsham prior to moving to Weston. The friendly welcome and variety of dishes reflects the expertise they have brought to The Chequers, so making our choices was a difficult decision. There were choices of starter, main course and dessert on the five courses of the set menu and although chicken liver parfait with red onion marmalade and toasted brioche was tempting, I opted for truffled goat’s cheese mousse with beetroot, rocket and pine nut salad. My daughter had the third choice from this menu, which was smoked salmon tartare with cucumber and melba toast.
While we waited for our starters a welcoming appetiser of carrot and coriander soup was served with home-made bread. A taste of some great flavours to come.
The goat’s cheese and beetroot worked perfectly together. The dish had flavour, texture and a lightness on the palate. Equally, the smoked salmon was served bathed in a delicate dressing, which enhanced rather than overwhelmed the flavour of the fish.
The Gourmet main courses included black bream Niçoise with sauteed potatoes, confit tomatoes, olives, fine beans and pesto dressing or olive and herb gnocchi with roasted red peppers and mozzarella. I had to go for one of my favourites, which does not appear often enough on menus as far as I am concerned: seared calves liver with tarragon mashed potato, heritage carrots and a pink peppercorn sauce. Delicious!
My daughter selected roasted chicken breast, red pepper, chorizo and coriander risotto served with a Parmesan crisp. Her verdict: delicious!
After our main courses, a small dish of lemon sorbet was served to cleanse the palate.
Portions had been generous but we could not resist a dessert, so while my daughter chose a deliciously gooey hot chocolate fondant served with chocolate ice cream, I went for coconut and kaffir lime panna cotta with mango and mint salsa. It was tangy and fruity, light and creamy finishing a thoroughly enjoyable meal on just the right note. Included in the Gourmet menu price of £25 (excellent value) was also the choice of tea or coffee.
I was driving so could not sample anything from the interesting and extensive wine list, which is ordered by body of the wine with thorough descriptions of their palate. There is also a selection of local cheeses, which will not disappoint any cheese board connoisseur.
As well as the Evening Menu there is a Lunch Menu and Children’s Menu served every day except Sunday. The Gourmet Set Menu is served on Fridays. On Sundays traditional roasts are served along with other choices on the set menu.
The Chequers also hosts many themed events and evenings including Wine Tasting on a Thursday with a buffet style menu to accompany the vintages. A date for the diary is Sunday 23rd July when the fine dining pub will host another Ale and Cider Festival. You will be able to find out more about this event on the website soon.