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Food review: Great food in a pleasant setting at The Inn at Shipley

Leigh Sanders takes the opportunity to enjoy a rare day out with his partner, and visits a pub eatery he only wished he’d tried sooner

The braised shoulder of lamb
The braised shoulder of lamb

There is one kind of day that parents everywhere treasure perhaps more than any other.

Yes, there is the thinking that ‘me time’ curled up watching, playing or reading something you love is the ultimate treat these days.

Alone time so rare it’s like a Fabergé egg of relaxation popping up every now and then.

And there is also the thinking that the perfect family day out in the sunshine visiting a lovely attraction is bliss personified.

That look on your child’s face when they see something that truly amazes them.

Or looking back and laughing at something they said at an inopportune moment perhaps.

Neither of these viewpoints are wrong.

They are both moments of joy that pop their head above the parapet of your usual hustling and bustling of everyday life juggling work, laundry, cooking and cleaning.

But perhaps one other scenario beats them all – ‘us day’.

There’s date nights of course. Perhaps a few hours stolen away from family life where a meal or a film can be enjoyed before quickly rushing in before the babysitter meter ticks over into a fresh, add it to the bill hour.

But a whole day. That is where myself and partner found ourselves recently – both of us off work and our son safely enjoying himself in nursery. We took full advantage.

The red-brick building is clean and olde worlde, hiding the extent of its true size

The sun is shining. We can get breakfast from the shop. Something different to the usual cereal scoffed down while simultaneously making sure little one’s food follows suit and doesn’t end up all over the floor. We can visit somewhere nice. Take a stroll through nature and chat about things that don’t revolve around cleaning rotas, where’s our child’s backpack and can you pick up some baby milk please?

It’s heavenly. And once you have explored and enjoyed to your hearts’ content it’s time to take in some energy and refuel with a hearty meal.

This turns out to be even more blissful than any other experience today. Being able to sit and eat at your own pace. Without keeping a little’un entertained. Without having to share your food because it looks more exciting than theirs. And then watching as three quarters of that meal you bought for them ends up either on the sides of their high chair or on the plate being taken back to the kitchen as it wasn’t what they fancied.

Having visited the National Trust property at Dudmaston with its gorgeous grounds we popped into The Inn at Shipley on Bridgnorth Road. It’s one of those venues we have driven past umpteen times on days out or to visit friends in Bridgnorth. And it’s always one of those “we really should try there” places which never quite happens.

Today it did. And we should have popped in sooner.

The starters were well enjoyed

The pub has a lovely outdoor area with benches to sit at in the sun to its rear, but it’s a shame that the busy Bridgnorth Road adds quite a bit of noise to the surrounds. The red-brick building is clean and olde worlde, hiding its true size like a Tardis of a pub packed with life and character.

The inside is equally gorgeous with its large square bar dead centre overlooking the tables spread out around the walls. The decor is pleasant and intriguing with its many period paintings, wine bottle labels and similar industry wares around the walls.

Also notable is the large room situated upstairs which boasts a huge, round, dark wood table suitable for enjoying all occasions.

The staff are immediately friendly upon arrival. Serving with a smile, they offer suggestions on alcoholic beverages to enjoy and let you try any of the ales on tap before committing to a full pint. The range of local and national options is impressive.

We noted the large spirit options too and particularly liked the cleverly named non-alcoholic option The Driver – very well played.

You really take for granted the quietness and serene nature of these meals before you have children. Normally at this point one of us would probably have our son on our lap, or most likely he would be crawling between the both of us across the table. Instead, we could order our food carefully, sup on our drinks and enjoy what was going on around us.

The tandoori halloumi wrap was ‘stunning’

It wasn’t long at all before our starters arrived. It was late lunchtime so the venue wasn’t too full and there can’t have been too many people before us in the kitchen queue. We had chosen the BBQ chicken wings and warm chorizo sausage and shared them both between us.

The chorizo had the customary kick to it but without being too overzealous and taking away from the sweet, vinegar-like sauce the slices were soaking in. It was also a healthy portion, we definitely got our money’s worth here.

The chicken was also delightful – perfectly cooked so that separating the meat from the bone was no problem whatsoever. These were covered in a sticky, sweet glaze that added flavour and a smooth, warm finish that was probably much more naughty than it felt upon consumption. The chicken meat, too, was good quality and not like the gristly, fall-apart standard that can grace many cheaper options.

It got us excited for what was to come, and when the mains arrived the enjoyment of the food increased further.

I had a bit of a mix and match meal for as soon as I saw the word ‘halloumi’ on the menu I was having cravings. It was the tandoori halloumi wrap with roasted red peppers and harissa yoghurt taken from the light bites menu and I added a side portion of fries to beef it up. The wraps were absolutely stunning. The tandoori seasoning mixed with the yoghurt and the salty texture of the halloumi was a real clash of flavours which delighted. Everything seemed to offset each other nicely in the light overcoat of the wheat tortillas. ‘Light bite’ summed it up nicely, and the wraps would also normally come accompanied with some salted crisps.

The bread and butter pudding with apricot sauce

The fries were crispy and crunchy too, which is just how I like them rather than the thicker, softer chips a lot of people – my partner included – seem to prefer.

She had the braised shoulder of lamb with minted potato cake, carrot puree, mixed green veg and rosemary gravy, which she seemed to enjoy every second of. The “succulent lamb” was “so soft” and fell off the bone – and I can second this as I was treated to a taste. She also enjoyed the potato cake, which was “amazing” as it was “crispy on the outside and fluffy inside”. Three words were saved for the rosemary-infused sauce – “best gravy ever”. Again, I concur, dipping many fries in when her attention was elsewhere.

We weren’t quite done yet as we had already eyed up some desserts earlier on the menu which tickled our fancy.

I had the sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream which combined the warm with the cool to excellent effect. The ice cream, so soft and smooth, was absolutely delightful and added a different experience altogether to the sweet toffee pudding itself. It also came with plenty of sauce which many places scrimp on, another huge plus for The Inn.

My other half had the bread and butter pudding with apricot sauce and clotted cream. She loved how the jam was “sweet but not overpowering”, as it could have blocked out the rest of the dessert had it done so. She said it was “rich and light” and “not stodgy at all”.

The inside is gorgeous with its large square bar dead centre overlooking the tables

We could have sat and overindulged in drinks all afternoon given our parental freedom for the day.

But, as we were driving, it was time to go and pick little man up from his nursery and return to normal family life.

The happy memories of our day in the sun – anchored with this fab meal - will have us looking forward to whenever we next get to experience such an adult-only delight.

THE INN AT SHIPLEY

Address: Bridgnorth Road, Shipley, WV6 7EQ

Tel: 01902 701639

Star rating: 4/5

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