We stumbled into this place when we were avoiding bigger clusters of people due to the spreading of coronavirus. It was early March, just before the official lockdown.
This place is well-hidden in a small quaint English village of about 1,200 residents, close to Mendip Hills. A place of natural charm. Chew Magna within the Chew Valley is in the beautiful County of Somerset in the Southwest of England.
It seems like a century ago now since I was there for a good meal. Only two months ago but it feels like a lifetime. It must be the effect of a prolonged self-isolation.
I was not planning to share this because it seems inappropriate right now. There are people out there that may be struggling to have a decent three-meals a day due to a reduced income and job losses. Posting this now is an attempt to be positive and hopeful, that life will get back to normal in due course.
The weather was downcast on that day but at least it was not raining. We enjoyed the short trip there. From the West side of the restaurant is a stretch of an uninterrupted stunning view of green fields and golden brown trees of post-winter. Almost like a landscape painting. It was calming.
This place is about 10 miles from Bristol city center. Off a dual carriageway, it was a relaxing drive along narrow country roads passing through scenic valleys and occasional farmhouses and large private country homes tucked behind tall bushes or trees.
Shortly nearer the place was a narrow dirt road leading up a hill. It requires good anticipation and maneuvering skills to avoid hitting the wing mirrors of oncoming vehicles. Backroads like this are quite common outside the cities in the UK. The interesting thing is that the food and little privacy entice people to enjoy a good treat there. We did. The Pony & Trap is regarded as the pride of Chew Magna.
The road situation is so little price to pay for the quality of food waiting on top of the hill, served by a Michelin starred gastropub in this picturesque countryside. This place is also known for using local produce for their ingredients.
The pub was still busy at our 2:30 time slot. It was the only slot available for a lunch meal when we called to book the day before. We sat at the West side of the restaurant by a small window overlooking the valley. Outside, there were benches for the summer bon vivants who prefer al fresco.
Everything on the menu looked appetizing. I opted for Pan-Fried Cod with Chicken Pie Sauce, Chicken Wings, Mushrooms, and Truffle. The look may be conservative but the taste of the soft and well-cut white fish, flavored with meticulously selected spice and seasoning, was sublime. They also offer good selections of white wine to match this.
My friend Mark ordered the Grilled Monkfish Tail, Piccalilli, and Pickled Kohlrabi Salad. He highly recommends this for a lighter lunch option. Our chosen á la carte menus were matched with hand-cut fries and winter greens with cream fráice, anchovy and caper dressing. We found these to be perfect sides for the not too heavy mains.
We finished the meal treat with an irresistible-looking dessert! (cover photo). A soft chocolate pudding, dipped in gorgeous chocolate sauce, matched with crispy walnut plus a dash of ice cream. It was luscious! One of the most delicious puddings I’ve ever had. It was not too sweet nor heavy; it was just exquisite. This went well with a shot of macchiato.
The old interior reflects the 200 long years of service to the community of Chew Valley and beyond. In some parts of the building, the ceiling is quite low. It has a quite cozy and warm ambiance. This old wood-stove adorns the larger dining area. The collectible treasure is tucked neatly in what looks like a fireplace. A rare piece of decor.
The service was good. The staff was helpful and cheerful too. They were knowledgeable about their food and wine selections, which is always useful. Unfortunately, the gastropub is still closed due to Covid-19.
This was my last meal out before the lockdown, hopefully not the last for 2020. Restons positifs!