The Lyttelton Arms, Hagley
Tim Spiers enjoys a good value meal at one of Hagley's most popular haunts.
I think I might have heard of this place before, it's got quite a reputation hasn't it?
Well it's classed as a "country pub and dining" establishment but around Stourbridge it's probably more renowned for being a very welcoming place to have a beer or three.
Thursday nights in particular see it regularly packed out but the weekends also prove popular with Hagley's great and good.
It's easy to see why as there is a wide range of drinks on sale and the interior is very welcoming. There is also a very fancy decking area outside.
That's enough about the alcohol, this is a food review. Was the restaurant any good?
We'd booked ahead – on a Thursday night – and it was a good job we had as it was very busy and we might have struggled to get a table.
First impressions of the surroundings were excellent.
It's got a very modern feel about it, but it's not at all tacky. There's artwork, flowers, coloured lighting, beautifully finished furniture and candles galore – a very nice setting indeed for an evening meal.
Sounds a bit upmarket – is the food a bit posh as well?
No, not especially. It basically offers trumped-up versions of some of the nation's favourite dishes – steak, pizza, fish and chips, burgers and fish pie.
To start with I plumped for mushroom brioche, which is essentially creamy mushrooms on toast. Not that that description does it justice – this was a divine starter bursting with flavours and texture, with a sumptuous creamy body to it. My only complaint was that the bread was doused in cream so wasn't crunchy in the slightest, but that's a personal preference.
To follow came a classic West Country beef burger, with added black and blue Gorgonzola and mushroom – definite theme to the night here. I always feel daft going for a burger at such a nice restaurant but I can never resist and this one didn't disappoint – it came delightfully served on a small wooden board and was just to my tastes.
One word of warning – the burger was absolutely massive, definitely a knife and fork job unless you've got a mouth like Desperate Dan's. Great chips too and it came served with a lovely garlic mayonnaise. My dining companion was equally impressed with her choices of lamb koftas, with a yoghurt dressed salad, and seared tuna salad.
Unbelievably we still had room for dessert – a chocolate brownie with vanilla gelato and a French lemon curd and almond sponge. Like all of the evening's dishes they were wonderfully presented and you can tell that they use well-sourced ingredients for the high-quality food they produce.
Well the food sounds great, how about the service?
Unfortunately it wasn't the best on this particular occasion.
It was a very busy evening and we were served by at least three waitresses.
Although they were friendly, for me thisprovided an impersonal experience, as ideally you should get the same one for the duration. On a couple of occasions we had to wait quite a while for our drinks to be topped up and as we were tucked away in a corner it was difficult to get anyone's attention. Also, we weren't once asked if we were enjoying our food or if there was anything else we needed.
Overall, was it worth it and would you go again?
The food came to £52 in total which is actually quite reasonable for what it was – very high quality ingredients, excellently presented and with decent-sized portions to boot. However when you add alcohol, the bill was £69 which for me is too steep to make it a regular haunt.
As a one-off, though, say for a special occasion, I'd definitely consider going again. But I would choose a day earlier in the week when it would more likely be quieter and the service hopefully a little more attentive.
By Tim Spiers
The Lyttelton Arms, Bromsgrove Road, Hagley, Stourbridge DY9 9LJ
Tel: 01562 882213
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