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Restaurant The Pony and Trap T


DERI ROBINS abandons her urban comfort zone, sets the sat nav and heads for the wilds of the Somerset countryside


he Pony & Trap has been flickering away on our radar for a good while now – us and the rest of the foodie army – but we’d always been too lazy to drag


ourselves over to Chew Magna, where the 200-year-old tavern with its sweeping valley views has been in the hands of the Eggleton family since 2006. The pub bagged its first Michelin star last year, and effortlessly hung onto it in 2012. Our memory was jogged again this month


when we learned that head chef Josh Eggleton was a mover and shaker behind the new, ambitious-sounding Eat Drink Bristol Fashion festival (page 45), and it was this nugget that finally jolted us into setting the sat nav for the southern hills. Josh’s gastro-philosophy ticks all the


requisite boxes; you know, local, seasonal produce, teased into classic Brit cooking with a twist, He’s also very into his artisanship; bread is baked, preserves made, butter churned, all on the premises. There’s even talk of home- made cheese. Among his many distinctions, Josh was


Gordon Ramsay College Scholar of 2003, and further honed his craft under chefs in Sicily, France and the US. And here’s a fun foodie fact, foodie fact fans: he attended Chew Valley School with Bristol’s only other Michelin- starred chef, Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias of Casamia. Those domestic science classes must have been a riot; we bet the chocolate krispie cakes were delicious. We pitched up at the Pony on a blamelessly


brown shrimp butter was a little patch of seafoody perfection. Meat courses included wood pigeon, cooked


two-ways – bresaola and chargrilled – with an almost Christmassy accompaniment of pickled walnut, pear and carrot (there are only 38 shopping weeks to go, after all). Meat course #2 course was local venison – plump, generous, meltingly tender haunches — served with beetroot and wild garlic risotto, and richly satisfying truffle gravy. Beetroot reappeared in a chocolate


cheese? Yep, this is the ‘bad boy’ of Stilton, Josh says. “Unpasteurised milk, and rennin, unlike ordinary Stilton.” So far, so excellent – but we were warned


to brace ourselves. “This is our longest tasting menu yet,” Josh warned us. Blimey. A bijou mini-faggot, served with carrot


purée and a scattering of pumpkin seeds was simultaneously punchy and light. Really, you could award this a Michelin or AA star of its own. “Easily worth a Halford’s Replacement Gasket Star,” I ventured. Hot on its heels came a richly satisfying


chowder: clam, smoked haddock and potato, served with a fluffy focaccia accompanied by creamy anchovy butter. A beetroot medley with ewe’s curd, apple


“Josh’s philosophy ticks all the right gastro-boxes”


beautiful late-March evening, as a vulgar red, technicolour sun sank over the Somerset hills. We’d booked in for the tasting menu, priced


at a very tasty £45. The amuses bouches got proceedings off to a terrific start – home- made crackling sticks to dip into an apple sauce salad with fresh pear and pickled pear, beetroot and Stichelton cheese. Stichelton


38 Clifton Life www.mediaclash.co.uk


and pine nuts preceded Partner’s course of the night (possibly of the year, she pronounced, devouring at least half of my portion as well as her own); a bowl of Cornish crab bisque, astonishingly dense with fishy flavour,


teamed with a generous spoonful of white crab meat in roasted garlic and saffron mayonnaise. Two main fish dishes followed. We were


treated to a new Josh dish – a fillet of salmon, cured before being pan-fried, was meltingly soft atop its bed of purple-sprouting broccoli, while a wild bass served with lime, caper and


confection – one of two yet more incredible courses that also included a buttermilk pannacotta. The meal finally went out in a fizzy flourish in the form of petit fours that interpreted the classic cola bottle sweetie. Witty. Josh got his first job in a local chippie at


the age of 15, before his training honed him into one of the finest chefs in the country. And you can still have traditional fish and chips at the P&T; during some batter chatter, Josh explained how the perfect fish and chip could hold its head up with the finest bouillabaisse from Marseilles or the richest Lyonnaise sauce available on the banks of the Rhône. If you want to experience the P&T cuisine,


head out there of a Wednesday evening for the fish suppers. Or book up for a meal at the Eat Drink fest. Or – hey! – get yourself out of the city one of these balmy evenings and sample the best food you’re likely to be served anywhere this year – no exaggeration. CL


Visiting details


Opening hours Tuesday-Saturday lunch 12-2.30pm, dinner 7-9.30pm; Sunday lunch 12-3.30pm, dinner 7-9.30pm We visited Thursday evening Prices Starters from £6.50, mains £10.50-£18.00, desserts from £4.00 Wine list Comprehensive, ranging from a deliciously dry Altozano Verdejo-Sauvignon de Castilla at £15.95 to a Chateau Lyonnat Bordeaux at £29.95 Atmosphere Friendly and unpretentious Service Friendly and knowledgeable


The Pony & Trap, Newtown, Chew Magna, Bristol 01275 332 627 theponyandtrap.co.uk


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