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Food review: Saracens Head, Stafford – 4/5 stars

By Lisa Harrison | Weekend | Published:

We pulled up on the car park and had to dodge a red-head strutting across the Tarmac.

Simple starter – the goat’s cheese mousse

A chicken sporting golden-coloured feathers was clucking about the place in an animated fashion. This sparked an onslaught of ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ jokes.

Funny.

A-Head of the game – The Saracen’s Head

Not so much when it came to deciding what to eat off the menu. The Husband chose chicken – shame on him!

But joking aside the farmyardesque image was rural, rustic and wholesome, a good sign of things to come.

On arriving on a wet and rainy Saturday lunchtime it was clear that we had dropped in at peak time.

Our party of four was weary and ready to put our feet up and was shown to a round table in the middle of a dining area, out the back overlooking a beer garden, fields to the river beyond. The Husband wanted a more cosy booth tucked away on the edge of the room and what a good choice. It was lovely: intimate and private yet spacious with lots of comfy seating.

Simple starter – the goat’s cheese mousse

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The decor is crisps and clean with lots of chunky wood, olde worlde beams and contemporary lighting giving the spacious rooms a golden glow.

There are comfy seats coupled with wooden tables and chairs to give you options of how much you want to lounge about.

It’s always a positive when staff are happy to help you choose the table you want.

From start to finish the service was impeccable with really friendly and informative staff – our waitress appeared to be an expert on posh chips, which turned out to be a good thing.

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The menu has a good mix of traditional dishes and more unusual options along with a selction of sandwiches and lighter bites.

To get things off the ground we ordered in the drinks: beers, Prosseco and lemonade to quench our thirst and make important dining decisons.

A pub classic – beer battered cod with chips and mushy peas

We decided to forgo starters and go striaght for the mains. The men went for big dishes while the ladies opted for a lighter sandwich.

Despite the busy restaurant area there was no delay on service. While we were waiting we noticed a card on the table advertising Yappy Meals. At this point I got pretty excited. My parents have the cutest little toy poodle who would love to come out to dinner so I investigated the deal.

Each meal comes with a play toy, a Pawsecco or doggy beer then a choice of chopped chicken or beef with potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Yum. To finish there’s a dog-friendly chocolate brownie and a cheesy bone. All for £9.95 it seems like a great idea to include your pet in a lunch out. We’ll certainly be giving that a go.

When the food arrived we were in awe.

After picking our slack jaws off the lovely wooden table, we took in the food set before us.

For Husband, the chicken supreme was a hit. It has little in common with the garish 1970s weekday tea staple. It was a lot posher than that.

The chicken portion was large and succulent, sitting in a bacon and thyme jus.

While the consistency of the jus was slightly thin for such a dish, he couldn’t fault the flavour with the thyme subtly lending depth to the whole proceedings.

Poulet whoo hoo – chicken supreme with duchess potatoes, wilted kale and a bacon and thyme jusPictures by Tim Thursfield

The duchess potatoes were cooked to perfection, creamy and rich, but the portion was slightly too light to accompany the full force of the chicken main event. He has a big appetite and a bigger amount would’ve been welcome.

Thankfully, having taken our waitress’s advice, the extra side of posh chips were the ideal supporting act.

Bristling with seasoning and lashings of cheese they added some real weight to the meal – in more ways than one. A minute on the lips. . . and all that.

He was super happy.

My Cheddar with apple and pear chutney sandwich was amazing. I’d gone for brown bread which was a gorgeous granary style – doorstep slices – accompanied with a small salad garnish which was fresh and crisp and chunky chips. All for £5.95. The Cheddar was mature and full of tangy flavour and was offset by the the huge pieces of apple and pear in the chutney. I have never had a chutney like it but it was such a treat.

Strawberry and white chocolate cheesecake

My only criticism, which is a personal preference, was the margarine spread on the bread was in big blobs. It would’ve been better had it been spread evenly and for me, if it had been proper butter.

I’d also gone for a side of onion rings which were eye-poppingly huge. I could, in fact, accessorise with them: they were as big as bangles. The onion was perfectly cooked, light and tasty with a crisp and light batter coating.

The Husband’s dad had gone for a pub classic, the traditional beer battered cod with mushy peas and chunky chips on the side.

It was a healthy catch of cod. A decent size covering the plate with flakes of tender, white cod covered in a light beer infused batter.

Mushy peas are a love it or hate it version of the green veg. But these were a big hit, smooth and flavoursome and just enough.

And the chunky chips were fat with oodles of fluff on the inside and a golden, crunchy coating on the outside.

Husband’s mum had gone for a lighter bite – the open battered cod ciabatta.

It was piled high on the plate with two slices of thick ciabatta topped with a decent sized piece of golden battered cod with tangy tartare sauce and a good helping of peppery watercress.

The ciabatta had a good bite on the outside and was fluffy and doughy inside. That too came with chips and a little side salad. We managed to demolish the lot and even had a second round of drinks.

Rustic revival – inside classic meets contemporary

All in it cost just shy of £70 which may seem quite pricey for two mains, two posh sarnies, two sides along with beers and Prosecco, but it was well worth it.

It was cosy and bright with super friendly staff who were chatty and happy to answer any queries and accommodate our requests. . . service can make or break a meal and the staff here certainly made it.

We’ll definitely be going back and next time we’ll have a four-legged friend to give it the final woof of approval.

Lisa Harrison

By Lisa Harrison
@LKWilliams_star

Deputy Weekend Editor, based at E&S head office in Wolverhampton. Works on Weekend and Woman supplements. Features include celebrity, real life, fashion, homes, beauty and general lifestyle content.

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