Food review: The Hinksford Arms, Kingswinford
Time to kick back and relax to enjoy rolling hills along with delicious, food in a family-friendly restaurant. James Driver-Fisher heads to the country. . .
Fancy a trip out to the countryside for some wholesome pub grub, great service and family-friendly atmosphere? If the answer is yes, you really ought to try out the Hinksford Arms.
The huge beer garden, vast selection of drinks and very reasonably priced menu should be enough to entice a family out to the greener side of Kingswinford.
And when your 10oz ribeye steak is cooked to perfection too, it really does tick all the boxes.
Although we live around five miles from the pub, we hadn’t realised it was there until a colleague mentioned it was definitely somewhere to try out, having stumbled across it herself one weekend.
We certainly thanked her for the recommendation because our visit to the venue in Swindon Road, which doubled up as a belated wedding anniversary meal (seven years in case you’re wondering) really was a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening in the autumn sunshine.
Sitting outside enjoying what I suppose you’d call an Indian Summer, our daughter, Annabelle, aged three, was able to blow off some steam on the wooden climbing frame, which sits in the middle of a huge, grassy beer garden.
She’s slightly too young to be left completely to her own devices, but my wife, Kelly, and I were still able to relax with a drink before taking our seats in the restaurant area.
One word of warning, if you’re planning on eating later than 6pm when live music’s on, it’s probably best to check when food is being served until as they sometimes close that room early.
Once inside, however, we were handed the menus by a very friendly waitress, who really went out of her way to cater for us, ordered another drink and had a look at what to order.
It was the classic pub menu so we knew exactly what to expect really, which is sometimes really refreshing.
Starters included soup of the day, chicken goujons, garlic and sweet chilli king tiger prawns, barbecue spare ribs, cheesy nachos and a sharing platter.
Kelly went for the stuffed flat mushrooms, which came with either bacon and Stilton or tomato and brie – she went for the first option – and I choose pâté of the day, which was served with rustic bread, mainly because I knew Annabelle would like it too.
There was certainly plenty to share between two adults and a small child, even one with a big appetite, as the mushrooms came with a whole rasher of bacon folded in half and were smothered with Stilton.
It was certainly a good-sized starter and pretty filling but very tasty, with nice flavours – not too much of the Stilton coming through either, which, for my wife, who admits to not being the biggest fan of the cheese (while enjoying the starter itself) it was a really nice contrast to the thick cut bacon and juicy mushrooms.
The pâté was also a big old wedge but again had plenty of flavour and just enough of the cooked meat and fat to chew on, while the rest was lovely and smooth.
Spread over the crusty bread and served with a bit of the salad, it was a lovely way to start the meal.
When it came to the mains, unfortunately the salmon was off the menu, which Kelly had her heart set on, but she was still happy to try the pork medallion stack with black pudding, which came served in a wholegrain apple sauce with mashed potato and seasonal vegetables.
That, in turn, stumped me a little because I had my heart set on that but thought it would be worth trying two different meals at the very least, so played it safe and went for the ribeye steak.
While all this was happening the waitress was happy to return while I tried to make my mind up because there were a fair few mains catching my eye, including the staples like pie of the day, which changes regularly, homemade cottage pie, chicken and bacon carbonara, trio of sausages with mash, Cajun spiced vegetable pasta, homemade vegetable lasagne, flat bread pizzas, and fish and chips.
We also overheard a couple order the curry of the day, which was chicken jalfreizi when we went, served with basmati rice and naan bread. However, a nice twist was you could order the curry to your liking, whether it was hot or mild, so couples or even families could all have the same meal cooked to their taste.
It was something we discovered happened with all the meal options because as my eye was drawn to the burger and grill section, we found chunky chips could be exchanged for sweet potato fries, jacket or mash, and the usual tomato, mushroom and peas for salad, even though it was not clear on the menu.
The fresh, home-cooked food is served all day every day, whether it’s a quick lunch or a family meal, but all the pub classics, sandwiches, ciabatta and food from the grill is all cooked to order, which keeps it nice and fresh.
The main reason my eye was drawn to the steak was probably because on our actual anniversary a few days before while living it up in Rhyl, I had ordered a one and it had been served completely over-cooked and the meat was also tough.
The ribeye at the Hinksford Arms, which I had with sweet potato fries and salad, could not have been further from the Welsh experience. Ordering it medium rare, it was served perfectly and the meat was so tender the steak knife just slid through when I cut into it.
The flavour was also exceptional and I was glad I hadn’t opted for a sauce to cover it with because it was delicious on its own, with a bit of mustard and ketchup too.
Kelly was delighted with her main too, with the pork also tender, the black pudding tasty and a little spicy, the mash smooth and creamy, and the wholegrain apple sauce rich and tangy, with a just enough kick to wake up the tastebuds after each mouthful.
Again, without wanting to go on about it, the sizes were plentiful and although I finished mine, Kelly still had a fair amount left but was very satisfied with the meal.
Annabelle could have chosen chicken nuggets, battered fish, sausage and mash, beef burger or a giant pizza finger, but went for her usual option, which was tubes of pasta covered in a nice, tangy tomato sauce, served with two warm pieces of garlic bread. It came with a few options – chunky chips, mash potato or curly fries, and garden peas or baked beans – but she chose beans just to pick out really.
She enjoyed every bit and still had room for a children’s strawberry ice cream, which we all ended up sharing as we were pretty full by then.
Had we want a pudding, there were the usual homemade delights to satisfy a sweet tooth such as a chocolate brownie, crumble of the day, bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding or an ice cream sundae. There was even a cheese board option.
It meant plenty of options for a return visit, which I’m sure we’ll get round to fairly soon after such lovely meal at such a pleasant venue.
There is also a lunch menu served noon to 6pm, and week night specials, including the Monday night Meat Feast, Spice Night Tuesdays and Cattle and Cork Thursdays – so it’s certainly worth popping out to.