The Chequers, Potterhanworth
It is always reassuring to hear that the Dining Out assignment is to visit an establishment which is in the ownership of experienced hands.
So we were really looking forward to visiting The Chequers, one of two pub/restaurants which well-known county restaurateurs Bob and Sara Pickles own in Lincolnshire.
Potterhanworth is a pretty village located between Lincoln and Woodhall Spa, with a main street of stone built cottages. The Chequers is close to the village centre, on Cross Street, at right angles to the main road. The handsome Victorian built pub is on a site which has housed a licensed premises since the late 18th century. Inside there are elegant, tall ceilings, with the main bar to the right of the front door and the restaurant to the left.
We headed straight for our table to enjoy a drink and look through the menus. It was early evening but other customers were already beginning their meals. The Chequers serves food from 6pm on Saturdays and is popular with early diners. On Sundays dining is available from 12noon to 9pm, a relaxed option which is a favourite especially for families. However, to our choices…
We decided to share a starter of deep fried brie with cranberry marmalade (we knew that quite generous portions would probably be served). A very light tempura batter coated the cheese and its richness was offset by the tangy bite of the cranberries. An attractive mixed salad was served to the side with the salad dressed with a delicious vinaigrette. I get very frustrated that so many restaurants serve plain leaves these days and do not even offer a dressing. A small point maybe but well done the Chequers on this one.
There were six other starters on the menu including cream garlic mushrooms on bruschetta, twice baked cheese soufflé with mushrooms and spinach cream and chicken liver pâté with Melba toast and onion chutney.
For our main courses my companion chose a 4oz fillet medallion, topped with Stilton, served on a bed of mushrooms and spinach with a red wine jus. A side dish of chips and a salad were his accompanying choices. I had rolled belly pork served with mashed potatoes and apple sauce with honey, sage and cider. A dish of fresh, seasonal vegetables completed my dish.
Both these dishes were melt in the mouth as far as the meat was concerned, with depth of flavours and excellent presentation. The belly pork had retained moisture and delicacy but was expertly trimmed of fat and stuffed with a sage forcemeat. The fillet was described as being served medium rare but the chef, Callum Hawkins, accommodated the request for it to be medium/well done. Two highly accomplished main courses was our verdict.
Other dishes from the eight on the main course menu included roast breast of Gressingham duck on a green peppercorn sauce, oven roasted salmon on a bed of sautéed potatoes in a lemon beurre blanc sauce and braised blade of beef in real ale sauce with horseradish mash.
As expected, these portions had been substantial so we opted to share a dessert. The blackboard offered a real dilemma. Sticky toffee pudding versus raspberry and mascarpone crème brûlée? We and the other guests that evening had received some excellent service from the young team at the Chequers. We didn’t keep them waiting too long for our decision. We compromised and went for a fresh fruit pavlova instead. Another generous dish which hit the spot perfectly to finish our meal. Homemade pavlova, piles of whipped cream and decorated with berries. We had cleared every plate and enjoyed this food very much.
The Chequers is ideal for a weekend drive out. There are some lovely walks around the village and there is a spacious car park at the back of the pub. In better weather there is the option to sit outside under sun umbrellas at tables on the patio.
I can understand why The Chequers is a popular choice, with extended serving hours, which allows diners to eat when it suits them and plenty of good quality dishes, including a children’s menu, which offers great value for money.