Newest Review: ... and this always makes me nervous. You know where you daren't sit on somebodys bar stool without getting a filthy look. Well, I was right.... more
A Good Inn for Friends, Countrymen and Romans
The Centurion Inn (Brampton)
Author Name: Praskipark
The Centurion Inn (Brampton)
Advantages: An Establishment serving Home-cooked food with good wines, beer and excellent views
Disadvantages: Friday nights are busy so be patient
There seems to be quite a plethora of pubs and eateries in and around Brampton in Cumbria and I have to say I have tried a few but the one that stands out the most to me is The Centruion Inn. From the outside this is a very quaint and pretty building. Any establishment with a name like The Centurion has to be connected to that famous wall of Hadrian's. It is indeed. The original name for the Inn was The Black Bull and has been part of village life for a very long time. Twenty five years ago the villagers realised that part of the building is actually on the route to Hadrian's Wall, hence the name was changed to the The Centurion. Over the years work and renovations have taken place but the exterior and interior of the pub have still kept its somewhat cluttered, Cumbrian charm. Painted black and white with a thatched roof and small square windows, the sort of windows when steamed up, I like to plays noughts and crosses on, this building has a magical quality like no other in this part of Cumbria. The views from the restaurant, Fell View Restaurant, which is situated at the back of the pub are stunning and you are able to see right across the valley of Irthing to the highest peak in the Northern Penines, Cold Fell.
The first time I visited the pub they were undergoing quite a lot of renovation and at that time the rooms weren't let for Bed and Breakfast. The work is now completed and they are now open for visitors to stay a night or two. As I recall the rooms were small with wobbly walls and slanting wooden floors which is quite normal in an old building and I always thinks adds character. I haven't stayed as a B&B guest but it is advertised as having en-suite bathrooms, tea and coffee making facilities which is something British people love. There is also free wi-fi for guests and for hearty walkers a packed lunch which I think is a nice gesture.
Let me talk about the pub first because this is the reason I came across the restaurant. I first found the pub when I actually lived not far from Carlisle and it was a summer's evening and my husband and I were out for a drive. We had been roaming around in the wilds and just by luck drove into this small but very clean and compact village called Walton. The pub or Inn stands out a mile so we decided to park the car in the large car park opposite hidden by several bushes and go in. I remember walking through the entrance which was very narrow and feeling a bit nervous. I know this sounds luidcrous because I have spent most of my life in and out of pubs and bars all over Europe. But I had a feeling that this pub was going to be a bit clicky and this always makes me nervous. You know where you daren't sit on somebodys bar stool without getting a filthy look. Well, I was right. When we walked in the whole room went silent and I could feel them all glaring at us as if to say, You're not from around these parts or as I later found out the real saying, 'You're not local are you?' No, we weren't but we didn't live far away. Anyway, we ordered a couple of beers and went and sat near the windows looking out into the garden which overlooks Irthing Valley. We talked amongst ourselves but all the time could feel ice cold stares penetrating our head and shoulders which we tried to ignore. Gradually more and more people came and took to their usual stations. Some rambled on about their rambles that day as this pub is on the way to and from Hadrian's Wall, and others started playing cards or dominoes. The more drinks we had the more relaxed we became and started to feel a bit more welcome. Perhaps we were just enebriated, or it may have been the warm red glow from the fire. I always love to see a fire in a cosy English pub - I can sit and stare into the glowing flames for hours listening to the idle chatter behind me and the crisp, crackling sound of the logs as they become one illuminated bed of ashes before they fall to the bottom with a slight thud. Time for another log and another beer!
In the end the evening at The Centurion Inn worked out just fine and we went back many times to listen to the old guys clanking their dominoes and telling each other stories that have been repeated thousands of times. We even called in one night when one of the locals had started up a sing song of Cumbrian ditties which was fun. I have always been one for a knees up even if I can't understand the broad Cumbrian dialect. So in one sentence - yes you will be welcomed in the bar eventually after you have been stared at and sussed out which I think in any country pub, is normal behaviour. Let's say they were just curious.
So now to the restaurant - Fell View Restaurant
The night in question was a summer's evening in September and as usual after having a few drinks in the bar we decided we would like to eat and as the restaurant was just next door we decided to give it a try. The room itself is like a long conservatory which has been added on to the building which is a good idea as it looks out to the valley. There are seats available in the garden as well but we chose to stay inside. It was Friday evening and seemed very busy very early on. We had told the proprietor that we would like to secure a table and when one was available to give us a nod.
Eventually he came to show us to our table which was a table for two in the far corner near the entrance to the garden. The menu isn't very extensive which is good because I always get bamboozled when there is too much choice. Before I started reading the menu I had a good look round at the other customers in the restaurants and I could hear quite a few French accents so that was fortunate. Perhaps, later I could practice my language skills. The look of the restaurant is one of homeliness - simple wooden country looking tables and chairs with flowers on every table and tie back, twee curtains to the windows. As the evening light dimmed, candles were lit on each table. Let's say the atmosphere was warm and pleasant and quite noisy with chattering voices.
We don't generally eat starters but this evening we chose garlic mushrooms. These came quite quickly and were served on a bed of variated lettuce leaves with small triangular pieces of brown bread and butter. The mushrooms were cooked just right and not too soft and sloppy. I could taste the garlic and brandy butter which wasn't too rich. Very tasty and worth £3.95. Other dishes on the starter menus were smoked chicken and mango salad, homemade soup of the day, oak smoked salmon and pigeon chasseur. All roughly the same price with the oak salmon being the most expensive at £5.35.
So the starter was successful and while we were eating our delicious mushrooms we ordered a bottle of French wine which the proprietor recommended as he has a great love of French wines. I can't remember the price of the wine but I have a feeling it cost around £8.
To accompany the wine which was poured into average sized glasses I chose medium rare sirloin steak and my husband chose home-made Cumberland sausages. This restaurant is known for breeding rare species of pigs and cows so consequently everything that is served on your plate is made and cooked from the homestead. The sausages have a reputation throughout Cumbria of being the best in the county and are sold on all farmers markets. The proprieters also deal with other local providers of game and fish so you can be reassured that everything is fresh and tasty.
So what did the sausage taste like - delicious so my husband said. It was absolutely huge sizzling away in a bed of onion gravy served with a dollop of smooth creamy mashed potatoes and a side serving of fresh vegetables of the day which were honey glazed carrots and broccolli. The potatoes were delicate and fluffy and melted on the tip of your tongue. All the vegetables were cooked to perfection, just slightly crispy which is how we like them. Of course my husband had to cover his delicious sausage with French mustard which he always does. This isn't a reflection on the taste just his quirkiness and flat taste buds.
What about my steak. Hmm! This is where I dipped. It took ages to arrive and I had to ask several times if the steak was cooked yet. How long does it take to cook a steak? My husband had already been given his meal and he was eating it as slowly as he could. He certainly didn't get indigestion this night. Eventually the steak arived with gushing sentiment and as I was in a very jovial mood due to the wonderful red wine I ate my meal graciously. To accompany my overcooked steak which I could hardly cut I had a dish of over cooked chips and a bowl of fresh salad. I think you can see where this is going - yes I was disappointed. The steak was not medium rare - more like well done and it was cold. I ate most of it and when the waiter asked me if it was okay I had to tell him that I was a little disappointed. He apologised profusely and said it was because they were overbooked and a staff shortage. I didn't rant because I have worked in a restaurant and I know how it goes and sometimes these things happen. I was disappointed but I'll just put it down to experience. I should have chosen the Tarragon Chicken. The Cumberland sausage which gets 10/10 was priced at £8.45 and my sirloin steak was £11. Other meals on the main menu were dishes like Tarragon Chicken, Lamb Shank, Cumberland Dux (which are faggots), Solway Salmon Steak and Pigeon Chasseur. Prices range from £7.45 to £10.25.
All desserts are homemade and change from day to day and they cost £3.95. We never rarely eat desserts so I can't comment.
Tea, Herbal tea, coffee and liquer coffees are available - from £1.50 to £3.10 for liquer coffees.
So overall, a little disappointed with the main meal but the atmosphere inside the restaurant was very cheery and I did get the chance to practice my French. The visitors were French Canadians visiting the area so that was nice. Also after travelling around Bulgaria and Slovakia a lot it was such a pleasant experience to come back to the UK and not to have to share a restaurant with smokers. The building and the views are stunning and in my view, this is the selling point of this bar and restaurant.
If you are ever in the vicinity of Brampton then I recommend you take the road out of Brampton to Longtown (A6071). Follow the road until you come to a small bridge with trafffic lights. After crossing the bridge for about 100yards turn right and the Centurion is on your right. A great pub with a country atmosphere and panoramic views.
Address: Walton / Brampton / CA8 2DH / Cumbria
Summary: An enchanting building to step inside for a beer and a meal
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