As a Warwick foodie for more than 20 years, I relish the opportunity to try somewhere new. So a visit to The Granville Arms just three miles down the road in Barford, was a welcome first.
Listed as one of The Sunday Times’ top ten places to live in The Midlands a few years ago, Barford residents are rightly proud of their sense of community – and this pub seems very much at its heart.
But it hasn’t always been that way and so it was a huge relief for locals when Ghost Inns took over in January and set about reinventing it, from the décor to the kitchen as well as offering the added bonus (particularly in recent weeks!) of an outside bar and wooden pergoda.
It is the result of the shared vision of friends for more than 17 years, Tim Sidwell and Mark Williams, since reopening to the public and, from what I can see, their efforts are paying off.
But the team are unapologetically purist in their aspirations. They wanted to get back to creating a traditional village pub for the locals whilst also enticing others from surrounding areas by rebuilding the solid reputation it deserves. And it seems it’s well on its way.
This smart village pub doesn’t look to wow first-time visitors but the friendly welcome and relaxing vibe set just the right tone for a lazy lunch or dinner date.
The menu, created by chef Carl Aspinwall and ably supported by Sous Chef Jan Kumr, is built around quality, locally sourced produce.
There is something for all foodie tastes here, with an evening menu complemented by separate Burger Menu and, in a throwback to the eighties, (well, if you’re my age you can’t fail but notice!) even a choice of basket meals. Think Scampi, Garlic Mushrooms, Spicy Wings etc. Perfect for snacking or a lighter lunch – and prompting some reminiscing about the ‘good old days!’
Hubby and I faced some tough choices from the Evening Menu. It was actually a blessing in disguise when he was told one of the dishes had sold out because it narrowed his options a bit. Now there was just a shortlist of two to decide between!
Eventually the Homemade Pie of the Day with Mash won out for main course which proved to be a good choice. It was absolutely delicious. But such was the size of the pie, it wasn’t completely polished off.
Meanwhile, as I’m a sucker for a good steak (I’ve had variable results with steak and I usually indulge when I’m in a quality establishment and can rely on it being expertly cooked) I opted for the 10oz sirloin. It didn’t disappoint, cooked perfectly to my medium rare requirements and was further enhanced with the most mouth-watering peppercorn sauce I’d ever tasted. – Yes, quite a claim but one I’m prepared to stand by if challenged!
Our starters of Pan-Fried Scallops for him indoors and Roasted Goats Cheese for me, were devoured. Among the goats cheese accompaniments was, unusually, beetroot. But the contrast of flavours and textures worked beautifully and is definitely a combination I’d look out for again.
It’s quite frankly rude to your hosts not to partake in a third course if it’s on offer! So, while I was embracing the start of autumn with a slice of good ole apple pie and custard, hubby was determined to cling on to his preferred summer flavours with his choice of Sorbet of The Day proving to be a light and refreshing finale following his jumbo pie.
There is a vibrant and cosy bar area so it’s just as comfy for those who’d rather just pop in for a pint – a big plus with the locals. Another is its packed calendar of live entertainment. From music, comedy and quiz nights to clairvoyants, there’s something to tickle all fancies here. Check out their website for more details.
Tim, Mark and Carl have clearly poured a lot of energy and passion into creating this latest exciting incarnation of The Granville Arms, and in so doing, have put this pub firmly back on the south Warwickshire map. From what I can see, its inconsistent reputation is now past history and hopefully, for the locals especially, it will be consigned to stay there.
The Granville Arms represents everything a good traditional pub should stand for – hearty food and great hospitality without the need to feel ostentatious. It deserves to succeed.
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A journalist for three decades, I now run an award-winning PR agency in Warwick and, through my clients and my reviews, love discovering and showcasing the diverse and burgeoning food and drink scene in the county and beyond.