“ Upper Ludstone / Wolverhampton / Staffordshire / WV5 7DH „
This very rural pub and restaurant is located just off what us locals call 'The Rabbit Run' which is how we refer to the A442 Bridgnorth to Wolverhampton back road. This is a well travelled route and frequently used by commuters despite its rural charm and hence there are quite a few pubs dotted along the route which seem to do pretty well for themselves.
I have been to the Boycott Arms a couple of times, both with family and most recently for our staff christmas meal from work when a group of about 30 of us visited for a christmas dinner with all the trimmings. I can honestly say that the food is pretty good and on occasion has been incredibly good, unfortunately the service occasionally has not matched it as I will explain below.
The building is quite charming and has many period features, dating, as it does from the 18th century. The website has a fascinating history and a list of landlords going back to circa 1820 which is pretty impressive! Inside there are lovely cosy fireplaces and a warren of rooms all interconnected and quite busy with furniture. It is exactly how you would expect it to look from the outside, oozing history and charm.
The food here is standard British pub fayre but done very well. Light bites such as jackets and baguettes at around a fiver, more substantial mains and evening meals including steaks and fish dishes as well as vegetarian options and roast dinners for around £9-15 and a sumptuous range of classic desserts (apple pie, chocolate fudge cake, cheesecake etc) for around £4.
I can honestly say I have never had a bad meal here. Last time I visited with family for a sunday dinner I had a very tasty, piping hot roast beef with all the trimmings and it was completely delicious and enjoyable. There were in fact clean plates all round which is impressive given the generous size of the portions, I had chocolate fudge cake for dessert (obviously wasnt points counting that day) and remember it being devine and my other half wishing he had chosen the same!
For our christmas meal we were sent menus well in advance so that everyone could pre order as we were a large group, I had chosen melon balls (the other option was pate on toast), the turkey main and the christmas pudding. I was quite happy with my meal and quite enjoyed it but some of the party did have to wait a fair bit before receiving theirs and at least one person sent their main back to be re-heated as it was not hot.
I do appreciate that getting food out to 30 people all at once is not easy and in my opinion they seemed to be short staffed which wasnt helping, we were the only people in the pub at the time however as they had opened at lunch especially for our party - but they did have advance notice of numbers so in my opinion should have been sufficiently staffed.
Anyway, after we had finished the meal we retreated into the lounge for a drink. Due to its very out-of-the-way location we were aware that there are no other pubs in walking distance and therefore had specifically enquired whether the pub would remain open through to the evening to enable us to continue our christmas gathering in the usual fashion with some drinks.
They had assured us that, yes they would be remaining open and as such many people had shared lifts and been dropped off due to the location in order that they could have a drink. I should also point out that it was the third week in December, absolutely freezing outside, dark by 4.30pm and a thick blanket of fog had descended.
So, we went through to the bar en-masse only to stand around for a good 10 minutes with no bar staff as the one member on duty was helping clear the tables we had just deserted. Eventually she appeared and surly faced told us that the pub would be closing at 4pm (30 minutes hence) and not re-opening until 6pm.
Evidently there was much consternation at this, not least of all from people who had arranged pick ups much later in the evening. It was pointed out that we had specifically asked about this when booking the venue and had been told otherwise, grumpy barmaid was not interested and simply reiterated that they usually close between 2 and 6 (thereby implying that they had already done us a favour by staying open til 4).
It has to be said that this put a real dampner on our christmas do and forced all concerned to rearrange plans hastily which was a real shame. For this reason I doubt we will ever go back there and it is still joked about in the department as the christmas do where we got evicted from the pub!
I did think that they did themselves out of quite a lot of business chucking 30 people determined to spend some money out for the sake of a two hour closure but hey ho, they must have had very good reasons or not much business sense.
Anyway, aside from this little escapade, the food is pretty good here, when the weather is nice there are lots of tables scattered about outside and the scenery surrounding it is very pretty. For sunday lunches and bar meals I would not hesitate to recommend it on the strength of the food - but do be aware that they have very rigid opening times if you are planning a visit!
THE BOYCOTT ARMS
We have been here on a few occasions and really enjoyed the atmosphere and the brilliant food.
We visited here on 23rd October 2005 for my husbands' birthday a lovely treat from my daughter, bless her. On this night there were not many people in, but the warm and welcome atmosphere in the place hit you on entering the bar. It has a wonderful open fire to your right as you walk in. You are then facing the bar area. The staff are very pleasant and warm. The setting is quite rustic in appearance and feel, with cushioned benches and large larder tables to eat off. There is a smoking and a non smoking area for eating.
We told the barmaid that we were celebrating my husbands birthday and she noticed I was taking photos and she kindly came over and offered to take a group photo for us, which we thought was a lovely idea.
We dressed in smart casual for the occasion, but there is no dress code as all in all this is a very quaint public house, not a posh restaurant. We did also notice that children are allowed and there is a children's menu.
What we really liked about the choice of food was that you had a choice of basics, Steak and Chips, Mixed Grill, Gammon and Egg etc, but you also had a choice of good home cooked pies, Turkey and Ham in a cream sauce (this has large chunks of turkey and ham, the sauce is very creamy and the whole pie is very, very filling) or Steak and Kidney in a rich ale gravy (this has large chunks of tender steak and kidney, with a glorious gravy), both of these came in their own dishes topped with puff pastry. We have eaten some of the above main courses and they have always been cooked to perfection. There is also a Vegetarian choice available. But, apart from all this you also have a specials menu, which is the more adventurous meal, the choices that were available on our visit were.
Trio of Fish for £10.95
Sea bass fillet, Salmon & Smoked Haddock on a creamy leek sauce with fresh vegetables and new potatoes.
Morrocan Chicken for £8.95
Pieces of chicken breast in a spicy aromatic sauce of pine nuts, apricots and spinach, served with rice.
Harlech Lamb for £10.95
A whole shank braised in red wine, with gravy, new potatoes & fresh vegetables
(My husband has eaten the Harlech Lamb on a previous visit and it melted in his mouth, he still raves about this today)
Pork Medallions for £10.95
Fillet of pork on a pear & brandy sauce with fresh vegetables and new potatoes.
***** OUR EXPERIENCE *****
We had our table pre booked for 7pm on the Sunday night. On our arrival we said to the bar staff that we had a table booked in our name and they immediately directed us to our table. My daughter and I sat ourselves down whilst my Hubby set up a bar tab for our meal and drinks for the evening.
We relaxed and chatted over looking at the menu, well this was a birthday celebration and we had starved ourselves all day for the event, we opted to have a 3 course meal. Looking at the starters on the basic menu, we had a choice of Soup of the Day, which today was Tomato and Basil, Luxury Prawn Cocktail, Oak Smoked Salmon, Deep Fried Whitebait, (V) Homemade Potato Wedges, Bread Mushrooms or Moules (which are Mussels from Bantry Bay served with a savoury white wine & herb jus served with a bloomer wedge and butter - my hubby has tried this on a previous visit and absolutely,(seriously he was in heaven), he loves fish and he loves good food, he has the waist line to show it too, lol).
This list gave us enough choice, but we also had the special menu to choice from as well, this gave us the choice of Chicken Liver Pate served with red onion marmalade or Thai Fish Cakes on cucumber with sweet dipping sauce.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Well for this review, I had to sample everything that was chosen, (there were some minor objections).
My hubby opted for the Chicken Liver Pate - it came served on a large plate, with a huge wedge of Hedgehog crusty bread, a pot of pate, side salad of mixed leaves and of course the red onion marmalade. Now I am not a big fan of Pate at all, but he put a bit of pate on a small piece of bread and the marmalade on top, the combination of the three together was exquisite, they blended really well together. The pate was really smooth and not overpowering in taste. The onion marmalade was red in colour, it is their own recipe which they would not divulge and to be honest I couldn't blame them as it was to die for, it had a lovely sweet taste with a slight sharpness to it, I thought I could taste a hint of raspberry, but I was told it was port.
My daughter opted for the soup of the day starter - this came in a small deep dish with a thick wedge of bread and butter pats for your use if you require, the soup was thick in texture and just the right blend of tomato and basil, both tastes coming through but not overpowering each other.
My choice was the home made potato wedges which came with a choice of a barbecue dip or a garlic dip. I opted for the barbecue dip. My starter arrived on a large plate with 4 very large wedges, they must have been around 3" long and 1" wide, these were crispy on the outside and very fluffy potato on the inside. The dip was a pleasant barbecue flavour and on the side was an arrangement of salad leaves.
We enjoyed our starters chatting away and discussing the food, each having a little try of each others (we are naughty like that). The staff never rushed us, but must have kept an eye on us over the time, as it was only a few minute wait for them to clear our plates away once we had finished. We did not feel rushed at all and we did not have to call a waitress to clear our table.
There was a little breathing space between the starters and the main meal, which was just as well as the starters were very filling in their own right. Once again, the three of us, had a different choice of food for our main course, it was a hard decision for all of us, as we all liked something different off the menu, my daughter being a very fussy eater, had a struggle to decide over the choices on offer, a bonus for us, as we usually have to make arrangements with the hotel to make the food to her choice.
My darling husband Roger, chose to have the Trio of Fish, he simply adores all kinds of fish, he is also well travelled and has eaten in the best of restaurants throughout his life. He would simply refuse to eat the food if he did not like it.
Anyway it's the food you want to hear about not us lol, his meal came on a very, very large platter, the fish was laid over a ramekin shaped mound of new potatoes that had been coarsely chopped, with deep fried grated leek on top of that. To the side was coarsely chopped in blocks of carrot and a large sprig of broccoli, the creamy leek sauce was drizzled down the side of the attractive mound of fish with a little pool of it round the base of the potato. Roger did struggle to finish his meal, not because he did not enjoy the taste, he was actually complaining that he was too full to finish it as he liked it so much he did not want to leave any.
Taste - All the fish was cooked just right and was very moist, the crispy leeks were lovely and combined a lovely onion flavour to the meal. The fish was tender and very easy to eat. The sauce itself was mild enough not to take away the full flavour of the fish.
Sammie (my daughter), choose the Huntsman's Chicken off the main menu, this comprised of a butterfly breast of chicken, grilled with bacon and served covered with a Hickory Smoke Barbeque Sauce and garnished with melted cheese. This was served with chips, peas and salad garnish. Now Sammie, being fussy, asked for baked beans instead, and they kindly exchanged the peas and garnish for baked beans.
She really enjoyed this, the chicken was tender and moist, the barbecue sauce was tasty and not too smoky, the cheese topping was both crusty and soft.
Now for my choice - I went for the Pork Medallions and I was pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived, the pork medallions were covered in a browny colour sauce, which I have to say did not look pretty or appetising, but when I tasted it, I was more than pleasantly surprised, anyway sorry I digress, on the plate was my pork medallions, covered in the sauce and crispy deep fried shredded leeks, wedges of pears mixed with the pork, new potatoes, large carrots and a large sprig of broccoli.
On first trying the meal I went for a bit of new potato with a bit of pork covered in the sauce. It tasted lovely a very pleasant taste, the brandy just enhancing the flavour and not overpowering it. When I tried it with the pear, pork and sauce it was breathtaking, it is a combination that I would never have thought of, but the combination was fantastic, the flavours interacted with each other perfectly. My only disappointment was that I ran out of pears before I ran out of the pork.
We were all suitably very, very full now, so we had a sit down for a while before we decided on whether or not to have a dessert. We are all very pleased that we had loose clothing on or we would be bursting out of them by now.
Even though we are full, us girlies had a look at the desert menu, Roger wimped out being much too full to manage anything other than a coffee. But the best bit of going out for a meal is the pudding, so Sammie and I scoured the menu, we were again spoilt for choice, from Fresh Fruit Pavlova, Apple pie, Banana Split, Individual Treacle Sponge with custard, Fruits of the Forest Cheesecake, Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake, Ice Cream Sundae or Cheese and Biscuits selection. Are you drooling yet, or full - lol
Sammie went for the Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake which came with ice-cream, she was given a choice of strawberry, vanilla or chocolate ice-cream, she opted for the strawberry. It arrived with this very rich chocolate fudge cake, covered in the chocolate sauce and a large scoop of strawberry ice-cream. Now I didn't try this as it is normally too sweet for me, but my daughter loved it and cleared her plate.
I opted for Fresh Fruit Pavlova as it is a desert I love, but don't get to have very often, I had a lovely surprise when it arrived, it appeared like a small baked Alaska - a meringue case with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the encased totally in cream with chocolate powder decorating it, oh not to forget a fanned strawberry on the top, on the plate was a winter berry selection in a jus, plus fanned strawberries and kiwi fruit. The taste, well it was lovely, the ice-cream and cream, lessened the bitterness of the winter berries. The overall combination once again complimented each other.
Our now, very over full tummies, relaxed for a while in the old world charm of the public house. By now, we were all getting comfortably tired, we had enjoyed our meal and the tranquil atmosphere of our surroundings, we had enjoyed a couple of rounds of drinks with our meal and now it had come to crunch time for the bill. As I said earlier this was my daughters treat so she went up to the bar to pay the bill. They will bring the bill to your table, but they are not rushing to do this and we had not asked for it, so like I said we were all comfortably tired and decided it was time to go home, the bill, ah you want to know how much this all cost us for 3 adults - it came to £58.00 that works out at approx £19.00 per head for 3 courses and drinks.
I would highly recommend a visit, you will not be disappointed, it is adviseable to book your table as they do get busy. They also offer Sunday Specials and A Christmas Menu is available.
As the location is a little bit off the beaten track, they do offer a large variety of soft drinks and low alcohol beers for the driver.
*** LOCATION ***
It's about 30mins out of Telford, about 10mins from Bridgnorth, approx 30mins from Wolverhampton and about 10mins from Wombourne. It is just off the B4176 and is sign posted or you could get to it from the other side on the A454 also sign posted.
The Boycott Arms